*This article mentions drugging, disordered eating, overdose, self-harm, rape, and an abusive relationship.*
Degrassi, aside from introducing the world to Drake, is known for addressing intense issues. At the time, Degrassi even coined the catchphrase, "it goes there." Degrassi has been my favorite show since I started watching because it shows many different viewpoints and experiences. I think that I actually became more accepting and respectful by watching Degrassi. Seeing moments like Manny's abortion along with the self-harm, abusive relationships, and anorexia listed below opened my eyes to these experiences. Except for the glossed-over health class, I did not know much about these topics and knew nothing about going through them. After watching 10+ seasons of Degrassi I am more educated and learned what causes I stand for. Even on topics I already know about, it's still fun to watch for the drama just like any other show!
These are ten jaw-dropping moments on Degrassi, in no particular order. You can watch full episodes of Degrassi on Pluto, Tubi tv, Amazon Prime Video, or on the Degrassi Official Channel on YouTube.
Peter sends Manny's nudes to the whole school
First on the list is the time Peter sent nudes to the whole school. Peter, an aspiring director, films Manny taking off her top at a party. A drunken Manny tells sober Peter he can sell it one day after Manny becomes famous; little does she know he threatens to release the tape. After some time goes by, when Manny is unable to pay Peter, he publishes the video.
Gonorrhea spreads through Degrassi
I would expect nothing less than an episode where a student receives an STI, but this is Degrassi, and we have to take it a step further. Emma hooks up with Jay at the infamous ravine, and she knows he sleeps around yet is upset after the school shooting (discussed later). The next day shows that every person Jay slept with now has gonorrhea.
Darcy gets roofied
Darcy is known as Degrassi's Christian girl. She and her boyfriend had agreed to abstain. Darcy and her boyfriend, Peter, go to a party but get into a fight. She gets drunk to blow off steam and, in a turn of events, gets roofied. While passed out, Darcy is raped. Darcy struggles to cope and lashes out after going to therapy.
Eating disorders with Degrassi students
The first time we see disordered eating is from a male perspective. Toby is a geeky best friend, but now that he is entering high school he aims to shed that skin. He thinks that the best way to do this is by making the wrestling team. Toby uses laxatives and stops eating to drop a weight class in time for try-outs. He still needs to cut down in order to make the wrestling team. His sister finds out that he is not eating, and to prove her wrong he ate in front of her but purged afterward. In the end, Toby ends up fainting after achieving his goal weight.
A different story of eating disorders shows Emma trying to impress a guy. She becomes very self-conscious of her body when she does not receive attention from her crush Peter, assuming he does not like her because of her body. She and her best friend, Manny, go on a diet. Manny goes off the diet yet, Emma continues the diet and more. Eventually, Emma turns anorexic and is hospitalized. The show continues to show Emma coping and her relationship with food.
JT overdoses on drugs
Liberty, JT's girlfriend, becomes pregnant. They both hope to keep the baby so JT immediately applies for a job. After receiving his first paycheck from the pharmacy he works at and looking at an apartment, it dawns on him that he is not making enough. JT agrees to give a classmate named Jay drugs when his boss is not there in return for a portion of the profit. When Liberty finds out, she is upset. JT asks Jay if he can stop, but he does not let him. Stressed from the mess he has made and still not keeping up with finances, JT takes the oxycodone himself and confronts Jay and his friends. While there, JT passes out and wakes up in the hospital. He is put on suicide watch and admits to Liberty that he meant to overdose.
Ellie has always had a hard time. Her mother is an alcoholic and turns to alcohol every night that her father is deployed. Because of this, Ellie takes care of herself. Her mother also asks her to keep her drinking a secret. Eventually, Ellie's grades slip, she is frequently tardy, and a job interview goes badly. All of this, combined with her mother's disregard, is too much for her to handle, so Ellie cuts herself. The show also shows Ellie wearing long sleeves and darker colors throughout this period. After group therapy and meetings with a counselor, Ellie feels better but in her own words, "What's bizarre is I'm always going to be a cutter. Even if I don't do it for years, it's still me".
Marco comes out to Spinner
Marco was the first person to come out as gay in Degrassi High School. He struggled with his self-acceptance but decided to come out to some of his closest friends. One friend, in particular, did not understand him. When coming out to Spinner, Marco faced yelling and hostility. Later at school, he saw spray-painted slurs. That same night Marco was also beaten up by a group of unidentified guys. Spinner eventually accepted his friend, especially after some words of advice from their friend Jimmy.
Paige's court case
At a party, Paige flirts with Dean and ignores remarks when a girl warns her about him. Eventually, she and Dean go up to a room, but Paige does not want to go any further. Paige continues to say no, and in the end, she is raped. Later on, Paige blames herself. No matter what, she is convinced that she could have prevented what had happened the other night. Ultimately, her best friend Hazel tells her that she should not blame herself and that she should talk to their guidance counselor. Paige continually sees Dean in her nightmares, and when he visits Degrassi for a basketball game, it is the last straw. With Ms. Sauve's help, Paige takes Dean to court. Sadly, she loses the case due to a lack of evidence.
"What you did to me changed my life. I still can't sleep without my light on. Sometimes I even look under the bed to make sure you're not there. I made a mistake going upstairs with you, but you made more than a mistake: you made a choice."—Paige about her rapist.
Rick pushes Terri into a coma
Terri is surprised every morning with roses taped to her locker and finds out they are from Rick. They are both very excited to be in their first relationships. Throughout the third season, Terri faced emotional and physical abuse at the hands of Rick. Some examples include suggesting she gets a salad instead of a burger on their first date, forcing her to stay away from her friend Jimmy, and bruising her lip. After these incidents, he always brings her roses and compliments her in hopes of her taking him back. Rick and Terri's relationship comes to an end when he shoves her backward during an argument, and she cracks her head. Terri is unconscious but later comes out of a successful blood clot surgery. Rick eventually re-enrolls after a year, and Terri is supposedly at a private school.
Rick brings a gun to school
When Rick returns to Degrassi, Paige's friends bully him, and a school protest starts. However, he does make some acquaintances when people spend time with him. Jimmy, a main character on the show, actually defended him against Jay, Alex, and Spinner (his main bullies). A couple of days later, Rick gets yellow paint and feathers spilled on himself in front of the school due to a prank set up by Jay and Spinner and activation by Alex. He goes home, only to come back with his father's handgun hidden in his backpack. He was going to shoot Paige, but after she expresses her sympathies and admits that she was disgusted with the prank, he changes his mind. Rick then goes to clean himself off in the washroom and likely thought, "the whole bringing a gun to school thing was silly." Jay and Spinner walk in, and Rick hides in a stall as Spinner tells Jay he's convinced Mr. Raditch knows. It is then when Jay notices the yellow paint in the sink and sees Rick's feet. Jay starts talking about how well Jimmy played his part and Spinner plays along by describing how Jimmy helped them all along. Rick was hurt by Emma's rejection and mad at Jimmy because he thought he stabbed him in the back. Immediately Rick confronted Jimmy and shot him in the back as he attempted running away. Rick then goes to Emma, who is with Sean and Toby. Sean points out that Rick has a gun and tells everyone to go away. Rick closes his eyes, with the gun still in his hand, and yells at them, "Don't turn away from me!" Sean tries to convince Rick to put the gun down. Rick still points the gun at Emma, and Sean grabs the gun in an attempt to stop him. A gunshot is heard, and they both fall to the ground. Later it is revealed that Rick has died.
Opal Cohen is a BBG from Northern Region East: Northern Virginia Council and enjoys swimming with sharks.
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