Degrassi Junior High: 205 “Stagefright”

Caitlin contracts epilepsy from a dirty toilet seat. Meanwhile, Michelle is nervous about giving a presentation about nervousness.

Season 2 Episode 5
Airdate: February 1, 1988

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome all to the first annual Warm Fuzzy Glow Degrassi Junior High Award Show. Don’t get too excited, though. This award show only exists because this episode was too boring to review in a serious manner. I had to spruce it up a bit to get it up to par with my (obviously) high TV viewing standards.

The award for superior achievements in special effects would have gone to this scene, except when the doctor flips the super-dramatic creepy switch, Caitlin doesn’t get electrocuted or anything. That would’ve made the show right there.

Caitlin’s embarassed about the results of whatever the heck that test was. Turns out, Caitlin’s got epilepsy, a contagious, debilitating disea–wait, what’s so bad about epilepsy? All she has to do is take her medication and pretty much nothing will happen to her. But for some reason, she’s still terrified of everyone thinking she’s some kind of monster. Luckily, her mom, Chief Girl Scout of Canada, is there to lend a helping hand. She was already working on her merit badge for helping chidren with epilepsy, and now that she has one of her own, it makes the work that much easier.

In the ladies’ room, Caitlin is trying to take her epilepsy pills when Kathleen walks in and starts yapping about how she never gets sick because she eats a balanced diet. Caitlin wins the award for Biggest Wuss but I don’t really blame her, since Kathleen was the sole candidate for the Conscienceless Old Bag award.

In grade-8-land, Joey is trying to pull some moves on Michelle (he tries for her butt but ends up tickling her or something equally as awkward). He consistently calls her “mouse” and makes squeaking noises at her for the rest of the show. Check out Yick, checking out Alexa’s tight pants. Yick would’ve won the Most Unsmooth award if Arthur hadn’t been born.

There’s Maya, who I called “Wheelchair Girl” for the last season and a half because I never knew her name. She comes up in a few later plots, but most of her time is spent whizzing around in the background.

Susie’s having a sleepover for all the grade 7s, and Melanie asks if it’s ok to invite boys. First of all, no. And second of all, no. Considering that the only boys in their grade are Arthur, Yick, and that dorky munchkin kid, I can assume that nobody but the Razor-Mouthed-Flesh-Eater-Award-Winner, Melanie, would want any of that action. So yeah, she calls Kathleen a prude, as usual.

Caitlin turns into a zombie.

AND THE AWARD FOR BEST SPEECH EVER GOES TO…. Wai Lee, known in most Degrassi circles as “The Chinese Kid.” Wai Lee gives a very comprehensive speech about how watching TV is like getting an education, because you learn about people and stuff. Note his captivated audiene.

Caitlin still hasn’t popped any of her epilepsy pills when Kathleen struts by, rambling about the school play. Turns out, she and Caitlin are trying out for the same roll in the play, aptly named “The Worst Play Ever” because I can’t remember the name of it.

Maya zips by again. She has no lines in this episode other than “hi,” so I don’t see why they put her in so often. Must have been Wheelchair Awareness Week when they aired this episode. Or maybe it’s product placement, I don’t know.

“Narbo” is dropped 8.5 minutes into the episode, in an exchange between Rick and the Gary Coleman kid. Degrassi Junior High is a pretty progressive school to trust 13-year-olds with expensive stage lights, but Rick turns out to be head gaffer for the play. Oh, and the name of the play is “Love’s Fresh Face,” according to a poster. I’d be more inclined to see “The Worst Play Ever” over that one, though.

Caitlin presents The Most Boring Monologue Conceived By Man award, then turns into a zombie again. Neither Susie nor Caitlin has caught on to the subtle hints of Caitlin’s epilepsy.

Backstage, Alexa and Michelle are working on costumes, and Michelle is seeking Alexa’s advice on how to get out of doing her speech for Mr. Raditch. Since Alexa is the winner of the Dumbest Logic Ever award, she says Michelle should tell Raditch she’s got cramps. This obviously doesn’t comort the nervous Michelle.

Caitlin, in yet another terrible lapse in judgement, leaves her epilepsy medication at home when she goes over to Susie’s. This is a crucial mistake because at the sleepover, Kathleen is conjuring up some negative energy.

We all know that voodoo is bad for epilepsy. Or maybe it was exhaustion. I don’t remember. Anyway, Kathleen uses voodoo to call her dead dog Chester to give Caitlin a seizure.

The seizure is honestly the most exciting part in this episode, just because none of the girls know how to react. Melanie’s reaction is priceless, because unlike the other girls who try to restrain her or put a pillow underneath her head, Melanie just gawks. Yeah, who’s a prude now?

Mrs. Ryan is pretty miffed that’s not going to win that epilepsy badge on time.

When Caitlin returns, everybody’s heard about her seizure. Honestly, I didn’t think epilepsy was a big deal, but apparently in the 80s it meant you were a witch or a werewolf or something. Even Rick stares. Kathleen even asks Nancy (Winner of the Best Fat Girl in an 80s Canadian Edutainment Drama Award) if epilepsy is contagious. Really?

The Degrassi writers couldn’t resist throwing Maya in there ONE MORE TIME, giving her the honor of having the most cameo appearances as an extra. She gets even fewer lines than Scooter, whose only job is to be small and to eat cheesy puffs.

The results are in–the part goes to Kathleen, and Caitlin earns the part of Kathleen’s servant. Caitlin is pretty disgruntled that she didn’t get the lead role, but Melanie is uber-excited to be playing a background character, exclaiming, “I’m a wench!”

Raditch presents Michelle with the Worst Excuse Ever Award. Michelle says she’s lost her voice, but of course, she’s just trying to get out of presenting her speech.

Kathleen calls for her robe in The Worst Play Ever rehearsal, but the maid is not there to bring it to her. While Susie is checking the script, Rick’s butt makes an appearance in the top right corner of the screen. Rick’s butt wins the Best Cameo of the Day Award. Sorry, Maya.

Susie is worried about Caitlin because she missed play rehearsal, but that worry quickly turns to anger as she sees that Caitlin is merely jealous of Kathleen getting the lead role. Bravo, Susie, for seeing straight through Caitlin’s excuses.

Michelle gets a rough start to her speech but eventually takes Mr. Raditch’s advice to “talk about something you know.” Michelle talks about her nervousness, and actually comes out with a decent speech. At one point, she admits that she hates the pink shirt she’s wearing, she just never had the guts to turn down a salesperson. In the most RIGHTEOUS JOEY SHUT-DOWN OF THE DAY, Michelle, the shyest girl in school, tells Joey to make like a tree and leave. Yes!

Small Ethnic Girl is assisting Kathleen with her robe while she gabs about Caitlin’s leprosy, or pregnancy, or whatever that disease was called that Caitlin has. Zeus-like Rick appears from the sky and tells Kathleen to shut up. Righteous! The two biggest jerks on the show both get shut down in less than a minute apart.

And that brings us to the awkward end-credit freeze frame. Caitlin’s back in the play (even though she missed every rehearsal up till now), and she and Susie are on good terms again. Michelle’s found a new sense of courage, and Rick has made his first move on Caitlin by slaying the squawking harpy, Kathleen.

Even with such a happy ending, I still didn’t like this episode. I guess because it wasn’t saucy enough. Epilepsy is not exactly a saucy issue. The only interesting parts in this episode were Caitlin’s seizure and The Chinese Kid’s awesome speech. Unfortunately he makes only two or three other appearances on the show and he is chubby and shirtless in one of them.