#6: I’ve seen every episode of the Canadian teen soap opera, Degrassi.
That’s thirteen or fourteen seasons of teen pregnancy, cheating, child abuse, sex, sports, coming out stories, death, drugs, power squad tryouts, school shootings, “washroom” pow-wows, and most recently, its first suicide.
Call it accidental synergy, but I began watching the show during my freshman year of high school. Believe it or not, the program treats the premise of showcasing high school with gravitas. It prides itself on having a revolving door of teen actors (imagine that, Hollywood? Teens playing teens) whose fictional stories and portrayals speak to the most pressing and obviously ridiculous issues of the day. At the end of their four years as characters, the show chooses to be relentless. They never soft shoe on fan favorites no matter how perfectly coiffed their hair. Instead, the characters graduate; they disappear into passing mentions until fading into nothing. An honored shifting focus from old to new.
God bless them, Degrassi also gave us the insensitive ass moniker, ‘Wheelchair Jimmy’. (These days, I hear His-Most-Sensitive, Aubrey Graham, prefers the name of Drake whenever he raps, sings, or pines after Rihanna. Whatever makes you fly, bro.)
I often ask myself why and how this particular show has sustained me for so long, as most shows in this genre get trite and a little sad after two or even three seasons. (Ehem, Glee.)
I’m beginning to think my devotion stems from casual pessimism rather than sentimentality or nostalgia. Maybe a part of me thinks high school never really escapes us. The power structure duplicates like a virus in college. It condenses and morphs to accommodate the workplace. The washrooms are still the best place for the dirtiest gossip.
Maybe we never stop coming of age.