Degrassi Next Class: 1.01 “#BootyCall”

It’s a new school year—on Netflix! Maya kicks her boyfriend out of the band! Tristan and Miles are bitter ex-lovers competing to be class president! The black girl wants a bigger butt!

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The episode begins with Maya getting ready for the first day of school. She opines on how the Drake lyric “started from the bottom, now I’m here” relates to beginning a new schoolyear. The lyric is extra relevant because I assume by “the bottom”, Drake is referring to his time on Degrassi.

Even though this episode picks up from season 14 of Degrassi, with the same old kids and their same old bullshit, Degrassi: Next Class is technically a new show. So this episode is written like the first episode of a brand new series. A lot of exposition is used to introduce Netflix viewers to characters veteran Degrassi viewers already know and hate.

I wonder what Netflix subscribers who have never seen Degrassi will think. They have no idea the ride they are in for. Because there are two kinds of Degrassi viewers: Degrassi virgins and people like us, Degrassi rape victims. Degrassi virgins go into the show naïve but hoping it will be a pleasant experience. Degrassi rape victims have gotten so jaded from the years of abuse that all we do is lie down and take it.

OK kids, lie down and think of Canada. Let’s begin.

A Plot: Maya

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Maya says she wants to be like Taylor Swift, so has formed a band with Zig, her boyfriend, and New Alex. I don’t think Taylor Swift has an actual band, but whatever. Maya and Zig get hot and heavy in the band room, but are interrupted by a group of freshmen being shown around campus. A boy wearing a sombrero is excited to think school will be like this. You better believe it, kid. This is Degrassi. If you make it through grade 12 without a bullet in your chest or semen up your butt, you haven’t really graduated.

The issue for Maya is that Zig is not a good guitar player, so she replaces him with Jonah, a gay kid. Zig cries over this. I don’t know what their relationship was like in old Degrassi, but here, Maya acts like the boy and Zig acts like the girl. It’s like Zig is being groomed to be the new Simpson.

B Plot: Tristan and Miles

The B-plot is about the election for class president. Tristan, the homo, is running for class president and wants Zoë, the bitch, to be his Karl Rove. But Miles, the rich kid, has entered the race. It is explained, for the sake of new viewers, that there is animosity between the two because they had man sex together and broke up. A Muslim girl named Isis also wants to be president.

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Miles holds a campaign pool party at his family’s palatial estate. The whole school is there. Even Tristan. When they are alone in the rumpus room, Miles confesses that he still in love with Tristan, and they kiss…and maybe more!

The next day at school, Tristan thinks he and Miles are back together. But then Tristan sees Miles with his arms around a girl! Miles doesn’t love Tristan. Miles doesn’t love him at all! Miles was just using gay love to get Tristan to drop out of the race. Well, if Miles can be a nasty boy, Tristan can be a nasty boy as well.

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A debate is held. Behind the three candidates is a wall of eight flat screen monitors that change to an image of whichever one of them is speaking. How can Canada afford this setup? Tar sand oil is selling at an all-time low, and the Canadian dollar only gets you 60 cents American.

The debate—much to the surprise of no one who has watched Degrassi before—devolves into Miles and Tristan having a very public argument over who was responsible for their breakup.

Miles wins the election. The voters took his side in the breakup. Tristan comes in second, which makes him vice-president. Degrassi elects its class officers using the rules of the US Constitution up until 1804.

In the girls’ room, Tristan mopes to Zoë about his loss. Isis enters and is angry that Miles and Tristan turned the election into a joke and she did not win. So much for her plan to have Degrassi recognize the State of Palestine.

But before Miles can hold his first council meeting, Principal Simpson informs Miles that his pool party violated campaign rules. Simpson takes out his LeapFrog tablet and shows Miles that he found an advertisement for the party. Because of this, Simpson removes Miles from the post of class president and takes his Leapfrog back to his office so he can play Barbie Superstar. It’s possible Simpson did this because he is sad he was not invited.

Tristan is now class president. It was Tristan who spilled the beans to Simpson. Miles vows revenge. Miles gets Tristan alone and it looks like he is about to kiss Tristan. Miles says he was not over Tristan before. But then Miles pulls back and says he is now and will destroy Tristan. None of the B-plot makes sense. Gay men usually aren’t this bitter or crazy toward their exes, Degrassi writers. You are thinking of lesbians.

C Plot: Malia

The resemblance is uncanny.

The resemblance is uncanny.

The bestest story in this episode concerns Malia, the black girl. She wants to impress a black boy who looks like every black person used to in PlayStation 1 games. I will call him Zacku. You see, that’s the name of the black character from the Dead or Alive videogame series. Zacku was based on Dennis Rodman, who appears to be the most famous black man in Asia. Dude went to North Korea and persuaded Kim Jong-un to sign a peace accord.

tubman

Anyway, Zacku likes girls with big butts. Malia knows this because Zacku has a gallery of big booty bitches on Instagram or wherever. The problem is, Malia has a small butt. The writers get in front of any criticism and have Malia state that it is “a black thang” that wouldn’t be understood by “no cracka ass crackas.” Those were her exact words.

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In the girls’ room, she tries to pose for a selfie in a way that will make it look like she has a big butt. That’s when Miles’s sister shows her how to edit a photo to make her rear larger. She did it with just one push of a button. iPhones are so cool. Why the hell can’t my phone do that? I hate having Android.

The trick works and Zacku adds Malia to his booty gallery. That’s a big honor for a woman in the black world.

The problem for Malia is that now she has to hide her butt from Zacku or he’ll see it’s really not that big. Foolish girl. Zacku is a 15-year-old boy from your school. He’s stared at your butt thousands of times already.

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Malia stuffs a big chunk of cotton in her pants to pad out her behind, and goes to school. Sounds like a foolproof plan. But then in chemistry class, Winston, the Asian dork, spills something on her pants. Zacku is a chemistry class champion and recognizes the chemical is corrosive. He implores Malia to take off her pants to avoid a serious burn. Malia obviously does not want to do that and Zacku chases her around the classroom trying to get her to remove her pants. Though I would think any girl would be reluctant to do that here even if she didn’t have basically a diaper under there. Shouldn’t the classroom have an emergency shower for chemical spills? Where is it? Do they not have one? My chem class did and my high school was a dump. Maybe a classroom other than Media Immersion could get some fucking resources for once.

Malia finally removes her pants and the science teacher wraps her lab coat around Malia. That teacher isn’t a real scientist so shouldn’t be wearing a lab coat, but whatever. Malia’s cotton padding is exposed, but no one says anything. All the boys probably assume that is what a maxi paid is.

ANALYSIS

Maya is boring. She’s apparently the new Emma, but Emma was boring.

The Miles-Tristan thing is a little better. I don’t care for episodes about bitter ex-lovers, but I appreciate that the class election story went somewhere unique. Most of the time a kid’s show does a class election episode, one kid will win by turning it into a popularity contest, promising stuff like free pizza and a ban on homework. Then he’ll win and find out politics is harder than just promising everybody whatever they want. Thankfully, Degrassi did not go there. I’ve been getting enough of that in real life from Bernie Sanders.

The Malia story was pure Degrassi gold. This show can’t do dialogue or character development for shit, but no TV series can present an embarrassing body image story with the gonzo of Degrassi! Malia has a lot of potential, too. I could see her perhaps surpassing Chris as Degrassi’s greatest black.

QUESTION & ANSWER PORTION

  1. Is Tristan wearing a girl’s shirt? It has a really low neckline that would be showing cleavage, if he had any.

tristanzoe