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Featured TV on DVD Review: Degrassi: Season 10, Part 2

September 13th, 2011

Degrassi: Season 10, Part 2 - Buy from Amazon

This is the season Degrassi: The Next Generation became just Degrassi for reasons that are quite impressive. At the end of season nine, the last remaining members of the original cast left the show having grown up and grown too old for the show. (That's not quite true, as Stefan Brogren has been in the show since the days of Degrassi Junior High and his character, Archibald "Snake" Simpson, is now the principal of the school.) How many high school shows can you name that survived long enough for that to happen? The two-disc set for Season Ten, Part Two marks the end of the first decade, but is there still life left in this show?

The Show

It's really hard to discuss this show in any detail without getting into major spoiler territory. It is also really hard to discuss the show due to the sheer number of characters and storylines. There are 22 characters on the show, and that's just the ones that make it into the opening credits. Granted, not all of them are exactly main characters, but there's still so many it's hard to know where to begin.

Let's begin with the end of the first part of Season Ten and the "A Night in Vegas" dance. The end of semester celebration ended with sex and violence. I'm not exaggerating. The violence is the result of bullying by Mark "Fitz" Fitzgerald, who had been picking on Adam Torres, a transgendered student. Eli Goldsworthy defends him and becomes Fitz's new target. Claire Edwards helps protect Eli by using a smoke bomb and blaming Fitz, and things escalate and Fritz threatens Eli with a knife at the dance. The second scandal is the Boiler Room scandal. Boys and girls have been going to the boiler room to have sex, and when that breaks, a whole lot of people get into trouble. The outcome of these two events is a large number of changes to the way the school is run, including a strict dress code, a zero tolerance policy for violence, no public display of affection, no students alone in classrooms without supervision, all social media sites are blocked on school computers, they have cell phone jammers installed, there's a cop assigned to the school.

There were other more complicated results as well. Alli Bhandari was one of the students busted in the Boiler Room scandal, but she hadn't actually done anything. In fact, it was Bianca DeSousa who had stolen her boyfriend, Drew Torres, in the Boiler Room. As an act of revenge, she sends naked pictures of Bianca to everyone in school, from Bianca's phone, so there's no way to prove it was her. Bianca decides a punch in the face is better than any amount of evidence, and as a result they are both suspended. Worse still for Alli, her parents discover her double life. She had been carefully separating her high school life from her home life so her parents still think she's the perfect Muslim daughter. When they find out, she asks to be removed from Degrassi in an attempt to get back on track so her parents will trust her again.

There are of course plenty of storylines dealing with relationships. The one I liked the best was between Fiona Coyne, the rich girl, and Adam, the previously mentioned bullied transgendered boy. It's obviously a lot more complicated relationship than you normally see in a show aimed at teens. It has further complications, as Fiona is nervous entering into the relationship and turns to alcohol to calm her nerves, which has been a problem in the past. This relationship had the most emotional impact. Claire and Eli's relationship is another rather complex one. Her parents are getting a divorce and that's affecting her faith and making her worried about love I general. Also, he's never truly gotten over the death of his first girlfriend and that has caused him to be a hoarder.

There are plenty of other stories from Anya trying to date a doctor, who doesn't know she's only 17. Riley accidentally coming out to his mother, who deals with it with a strong case of denial. Wes and Dave's friendship is tested when Dave starts to hang around the cool kids. Dave starts dating a girl, Sadie, who is much taller than he is. Jenna and K.C. have to deal with the upcoming birth. And many more after that.

I've long argued Degrassi is the best show aimed at the high school demographic and its longevity does seem to bear out that opinion. This year's collection of characters and stories contain some of the best we've seen and there are some daring and emotional plot threads to follow. Adam is the best example of this and it's no surprise that the actress, Jordan Todosey, won a Gemini Award for her performance. There are some storylines and characters that are less memorable, but with 22 main characters and dozens of stories, this is bound to happen.

The Extras

The only extras on the two-disc set are a collection of Webisodes. There are three four-part stories on the Halloween dance, the cheerleader team, and love. A play all button would have been nice, especially with the short running time of each part. It's not a lot of extras, but compared to other shows aimed at roughly the same target demographic, iCarly, Victorious, etc., it's better than average.

On a side note, the season was split into two parts because the shows themselves are basically an hour long. You can either look at the episodes as 22 hour-long episodes, or 44 30-minute long episodes, each part of a two-parter.

The Verdict

I watched Degrassi from the beginning, and by that I mean I've seen The Kids from Degrassi Street. I watched the first few seasons of Degrassi: The Next Generation but I haven't been able to keep up with it recently. It took a couple episodes of Season 10, Part 2 to get back up to speed, and there are a few of the original cast that I miss, but the show is still amazing and the best of its genre. I look forward to season 11.

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