So, a little history. In seventh grade, which was my first year of junior high, we had a class called “guidance”. And it was “taught” by the guidance counselors. And I think it was a time when they were supposed to connect with us and talk about the real problems of being a teen, and to talk about life choices. You know, to keep it real. I don’t know. The only thing I remember doing is watching episodes of Degrassi Junior High. And I was utterly fascinated. I couldn’t figure it out- there was something off about it. The fashions seemed a decade behind. And they spoke kind of funny. It wasn’t until year later I figured it out- THEY WERE CANADIAN!
Thanks to the wonders of technology, the whole series was released on dvd. And what’s even better is that the first episode is the one I remembered the most! Seriously, it’s like if you took all the clothing descriptions from a BSC book and made a half hour tv show. Shall we get started?
We see the illustrious Stephanie Kaye walking into school. Dressed like a school marm. A pudgy, awkward redhead calls after her, and she is having none of that. It turns out it’s Arthur, her brother, although they live separately. He cannot talk to her, because, “that’s the way things are”. Stephanie’s in Grade 8, so she’s really important. Also, they say “grade eight” and not “eighth grade”. Very Canadian, eh?
I hate putting down girls’ appearances- but seriously, this show is choc full of UGS. And I’m not talking about the shoes. Steph needs some major dental work and hot oil treatment. We head into school and get the credits. Arthur seems to have failed his summer drama camp acting lessons.
Steph heads the the bathroom and meets her bff Voula, who is the sheltered goody goody type. You can tell because she has big ass glasses and is wearing a frilly dress. Steph begins to change out of her conservative clothes and undergo her transformation to Voula’s horror. We are talking makeover to epic proportions. If this were a bsc book, this is how it would be described: “Steph was wearing a stretchy striped shirt, which she had pulled off her shoulders and clamped it in the middle of her boobs with a hair clip, to reveal her stomach and to show off as much skin as possible. On anyone else, it would like like a baby hooker outfit, but on Steph it looked cool. She wore black leggings down to her ankles. She had teased her hair into a gigantic cloud of rattiness, and smothered on blue eyeshadow.”
Voula’s a little shocked, but she’s going with it. They hear an announcement about running for president, and Voula gets fired up. Steph suddenly thinks that running for president would be super rad, and talks about giving less homework and more school dances. As if that would happen. I doubt even Barack Obama has any say over how many social events he has to attend. Voula is dubious of Steph.
Voula changes her name to Toula but still is a loser because she wears the big glasses of shame
You know what? Voula has a right to be grumpy, because she’s going to live a hard life being a lowly waitress in her father’s restaurant. Until she meets John Corbett, that is. And they have a wacky wedding but then finds out that underneath, everyone’s family is crazy and that’s what you love them for. But that’s another story for an overhyped movie.
Oh, and Arthur makes a friend named Yick Yu, who is just open to so much ridicule, but its great because they are both nerds and outcasts but found each other and they meet then infamous Joey Jeremiah whose hat, denim vest and semi-mullet and dead brown eyes are burned into our preteen memories forever. He tricks Arthur into getting locked in the janitor’s closet. Watch out Joey, Karma’s a bitch. And so is being height challenged. Joey’s tight jeans become tighter as he sees Steph’s new look and attempts to hot on her but scary, mustachioed Mr. Raditch enters class and people sit up a little straighter.
Right when Mr. Raditch is speaking, Steph admits to Voula that she’s just a dumb girl! Voula gladly volunteers to be her campaign manager. Voula wants to write about important stuff, like having input into the curriculum. Steph is more interested in rubbing her crotch up against Joey J in the library. Aren’t we all? Joey whistles and wiggles his eyebrows at her. Steph loves it. I vomit.
In a campaign montage, Voula makes up catchy slogans like “Stephanie for Prez” and Stephanie teases her hair three feet higher.
The kids have a political rally outside on the steps. Stephanie dresses like an Atlantic City Applebee’s waitress and gives Voula’s inspiring speech. Is anyone else running?
Snake comes out in some animal print capri pants (no joke) and plays a ditty about Stephanie on his guitar. Ah, the early days of the Zit Remedy! Joey comes over and kisses Stephanie on the neck and acts all rapey, and Stephanie loves it. Wheels, with his Farrah Fawcett haircut (RIP) asks Steph if he promises to vote for her, can he get a kiss too? Steph agrees as long as he promises! Suddenly all the boys of Degrassi form a single line to smooch Steph. Voula looks on, seething. Voula is pretty much Elizabeth Wakefield. Complete with the prairie jumper. Steph’s cavity-rotted teeth are on full display as each of the guys plant one on her. Seriously, is this England or Canada? Sorry, too easy.
Oh no, a comedic interlude. The Canadians gave forth Kids in the Hall, you’d think they couldn’t screw up comedy. Arthur and Yick sneak around trying to get back at Joey, but all the plans backfiring in a slapstick way. I won’t bore you or take away from Stephanie’s outfit descriptions. Meanwhile Arthur encounters a crowd of guys chanting “All the Way with Stephanie Kaye” which would later become a third wave feminist anthem when it was reclaimed as a harrowing acknowledgment of women’s struggles within the two-party system.
Stephanie's look has been an inspiration to many designers, and most recently to American Apparel.
Steph comes out in another craptastic outfit (how many bandeau tops does this girl own?) and starts spouting off campaign promises, and Wheels is right there to sexually harass her. She promises rock music on the PA, more dances, and coed swimming in gym.
Male in crowd: “We get to see girls in bikinis!”
Male in crowd: “I wanna see Steph in a bikini!”
Wheels: “withOUT a bikini!”
Males in crowd: “Take it off! Take it off!”
Joey: “Vote for Stephanie and who knows what she’ll do!”
Back in the 80s, we all wore chip clips in our hair.
Where is Mr. Radditch to break this shit up? The gaggle of feminists in the crowd, which includes Caitlin Ryan (no not her) yell “talk about anti-feminist!”
Stephanie announces that she’s like to thank someone special who has helped her with everything and it’s…Joey J! Voula is PIIISSSSSED. She friend-breaks up with Stephanie. Shock to no one, Stephanie wins the election, and she gets a huge smile, big gums, missing teeth and all, and another grope from Joey. Voula is still pissed. On her way out of class, Steph runs into Suzy, who is her elected vice present, who is probably a model for Monique Coleman’s character in High School Musical. The fact that I thought of this makes me want to kill myself. Anyway, Suzy is super excited because she wants to major in political science and this will be such a good experience for her and omg she can’t wait for the next student council meeting. ….[NEEDLE SCRATCHING ON RECORD]. Wait, what? Student council meeting? Steph has to attend those? Also, she has to give a speech at the next PTA meeting. Why, she didn’t think of that! She catches Joey J harassing Arthur and realizes that Joey is kind of a tool and runs off to find Voula.
Voula, to her credit, stands her ground and calls Steph out for thanking Joey instead of her. Steph explains it as “we’re in Grade Eight now. Boys like that sort of thing.” Voula answers, “So do girls! And best friends!” Ouch, she is a firecracker! Voula storms off, and Steph retreats to the bathroom. She’s serious, y’all. She turns back into her old self, which includes matting down her rat’s nest of hair, wiping off her makeup, and wearing her grandmother’s shirt.
Inner monologue! Except it’s not inner. “I’ll be the best president ever! And I’ll give a great speech to the PTA! Even if I had to write it myself! But I wish I had someone to help me…” DUN DUN DUN. Reap what you sow. You made your bed, lie in it. And other sayings.
Steph meets Arthur outside and half apologizes for being an ass to him. Arthur offers to help Steph on her speech but she says condescendingly, “this is junior high.” That will be my answer to everything from now on. “Wait!” she yells as he turns to walk away. “I need you!” BAM! CREDITS!
The moral of this story? Don’t run for junior high president if you can’t handle a gang bang. Oh, and don’t neglect your friends. Or something.