degrassi the next generation
Listen, self-acceptance is a great message to promote, especially to teenagers. But I can't shake the deja vu feeling that settled in while I watched the super-sized 'Born This Way' tribute. Those self-acceptance storylines were just so ... familiar.
A little too familiar, if you ask me.
Here are three plot points from last night's episode, and three places I've seen them done before.
1. Aspiring star considers plastic surgery = 'Degrassi'
I suppose it's not hard for a high-school show to tread the same ground as Canadian institution 'Degrassi,' especially since the long-running, issues-focused show is filming its eleventh season. During 'Degrassi''s fifth season, aspiring actress Manny considered a boob job to further her career, much like Rachel considered a nose job during last night's 'Glee.' Luckily, neither girl ended up going through with the procedure.
Now, Degrassi High has a transgender student, Adam, who is struggling with his first real relationship. In classic 'Degrassi' fashion, Adam is not singled out for his identity (though he was at first by peers), and the show treats him like just another teenager. Kudos to the show, but also to young actress Jordan Todosey, who plays the role with incredible accuracy and compassion.
TV Squad sat down with Jordan on her 16th birthday to talk about male idiosyncrasies, what's in store for Adam's romance, and having to chop her hair off.
In all of his outings since 'Friends,' I've increasingly gotten the sense that Matthew Perry is a dark guy. He seems angry a lot, and he even has scowl lines. Sigh. I loved Chandler Bing -- I wanted to be more than 'Friends' with him, if you know what I mean.
But I guess we all have to move on from early TV crushes. Here, Perry plays an angry, scowling manager of an arena where stuff happens: hockey games, circus acts, and reunion tours of mid-level rock bands. In the pilot, Perry gets dumped by his friend-with-benefits, turns 40 and realizes he doesn't want to be alone anymore. Sounds really funny, right? No wait, I can make it worse: Thomas Schlamme is directing but Aaron Sorkin isn't involved, so get ready for a lot of walk-and-talks without very interesting talk.
Now in its tenth year, 'Degrassi: The Next Generation' is known for tackling the toughest of subjects. Ironically, the fictional characters on 'Degrassi' are far more relatable than most reality series, which is why the show has grown and maintained such a loyal following. Teens love how the gloss is stripped -- we see kids with braces, acne, angst and all.
Canadian music channel MuchMusic held a special outdoor screening of the latest 'Degrassi' movie, 'Degrassi Takes Manhattan', in their infamous parking lot, and invited diehard fans to come along.
Like the series, the latest movie doesn't hold back. Starting with a poolside punch and finishing with an impulse wedding, we follow the characters as they graduate high school and have a summer full of unexpected disasters, revelations, and... incest?
In the space of about a year, he's launched multiple singles to the top of Billboard's Hot 100 chart, inked a record deal with prominent rap label Young Money Entertainment (distribution by Universal Republic), and performed at the Grammy Awards alongside his perpetually crunked mentor Lil Wayne. His new album 'Thank Me Later' leaked online this week to very positive reviews, and figures to bump him up to the level of rap superstar.
Legions of TV fans, however, know Drake by a different name -- Jimmy Brooks. That's the name of the character that Aubrey Drake Graham (yes, Drake is actually his middle name) portrayed for seven seasons on the Canadian high-school melodrama 'Degrassi: The Next Generation.'
MONDAY, OCT. 5
'The Mo'Nique Show' (11PM, BET) series premiere
It's Mo'Nique's world these days, as the comedienne and sitcom star launches her nightly talk show just as buzz ramps up about a possible Oscar nomination for her role in the indie drama 'Precious.' As for the talk show, it'll be a familiar mix of celeb guests, musical performances and an in-house DJ. Her first guest tonight: Fellow comedian Steve Harvey, while Chris Rock pops in on Thursday.
'Sherri' – 'The View' co-host Sherri Shepherd stars in this sitcom based on her real-life divorce (7PM, Lifetime) series premiere
'Let's Make a Deal' – Wayne Brady hosts this daytime remake of the Monty Hall game show classic (Check listings, CBS)
'Rita Rocks' – 2nd season premiere (7:30PM, Lifetime)
'Gossip Girl' – Hilary Duff and Tyra Banks guest star (9PM, The CW)
'How I Met Your Mother' – Barney asks Ted to teach him how to date Robin (8PM, CBS)
MONDAY, JUNE 29
'Dance Your Ass Off' (10PM, Oxygen) series premiere
What they hope to lose: pounds. What they hope to gain: the $100,000 grand prize that will go to the one contestant out of 12 who drops the most weight by shaking their moneymakers. The 'Biggest Loser'-meets-'So You Think You Can Dance' concept, hosted by Marissa Jaret Winokur, has attracted an eclectic bunch of contestants, including a former model whose career ended when she gained 55 pounds and several diabetics whose weight loss could save their lives. With the help of a doctor, nutritionist, trainer and two hours of dance practice a day, who will leave the show thinner ... and richer?
'The Bachelorette' – Jillian visits the finalists' hometowns (8PM, ABC)
'My Life on the D-List' – Kathy asks her mom to create a Facebook page for her (10PM, Bravo)
'Weeds' – Celia camps out in Nancy's garage (10PM, Showtime)
'New York Goes to Work' – 1st season finale (10PM, VH1)
'Nurse Jackie' – Zoey loses her first patient (10:30PM, Showtime)
OK, here we go again with a SPOILER WARNING. Do not, do not, do not read on or scroll down if you don't want to find out what happens on tonight's episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation.
I remember watching the original Degrassi, back in the 50s or whenever it was originally broadcast (I feel old). I was never a regular viewer, but I remember thinking that the show was better than most teen shows, better written, with a realistic cast. And then tackled some serious topics: sex, drugs, violence, relationships. But I don't think they ever had anything like what happens on tonight's show.