Degrassi Revisited: “Bark at the Moon”, Season 4, Episode 13

TV Review

I got home one Sunday night in July after a long weekend with my stupid fucking family. Saturday was too hot, then it rained all Sunday and there was a flood warning. I didn’t care because my apartment is on the second floor. Let the plebs living on the ground worry about rain. Up here in the sky, we enjoy our closeness with the sun.

Anyway, to relax, I loaded Pluto on my TV. Pluto.tv is a free streaming service from Viacom of shows and movies it owns. It has ads, so it’s like cable, but better because it’s free and has things I actually want to watch. Because this is an election year, about half the commercials right now are for the Joe Biden campaign. Man, I wish I could meet someone in real life who is as excited for Joe Biden as his campaign commercials are. The commercials actually think Joe Biden is both inspiring and doesn’t poop his pants.

So Pluto has annoying commercials, but some good channels. There is one that streams classic Nickelodeon all day, which is a treat, because it takes me back to a time when I was young and happy and not beaten down by the ugly world.

There is also a channel that only shows Unsolved Mysteries, which I haven’t seen once this century. In case you are too young to know, Unsolved Mysteries was documentary show hosted by Robert Stack, who’d wear a trench coat (the trench coat being the most mysterious coat to wear because you never know if someone is naked underneath) as he introduced segments that ranged from reenactments of unsolved murders, or missing people, to stories about ghosts and UFOs. Looking back, it was wildly inappropriate to put real life tragedies next to reports on Bigfoot, but that’s just how we did TV in the ‘90s. Unsolved Mysteries used to air on Lifetime, the women’s channel. That made sense because woman are the main audience for the 4000 true crime murder podcasts on iTunes, and every woman thinks every house she’s ever lived in is haunted. But I used to watch Homicide: Life on the Street reruns on Lifetime. It was one of the best shows of the ‘90s, but it was a gritty cop show that usually only had one woman in the cast.

The Degrassi Channel is mistakenly listed under “Entertainment”

There is even a channel that streams Degrassi 24/7, all however many seasons there were. I don’t think anyone asked for that, but Pluto has it. They don’t air Next Class, the Netflix series. Netflix must still own the rights even though they canceled it. That’s fine by me because Next Class was Next Ass. I would always end up turning off the Degrassi channel as soon I looked at it, because they always seemed to be showing episodes from later on, when the actors were too pretty and the stories too dumb. That is what happened to Degrassi, the actors got better looking and the writers got worse.

But I was in luck that Sunday because Pluto was finally showing a Classic Degrassi Adventure. The episode was Bark at the Moon”, the 13th episode of the fourth season, and the fifth after the school shooting. It originally aired on November 23, 2004 (or as they write dates in Canada: 04:23:dinovimbrei) I was so happy I wanted to write a new recap of the episode to expand on what Billie Green wrote so many years ago.

It begins with Spinner waiting tables at the Dot, the cafe next to the school, while Manny keeps her eyes focused his butt. Spinner tells her he needs to “boost turnover” or the manager will slit his throat. I think turnover refers to how often employees have to be hired to replace those that quit. I don’t think that Spinner’s responsibility. Maybe he needs to sell more apple turnovers.

OK, I went and looked it up. Turnover can also refer to “The amount of money taken by a business in a particular period”. Words have too many meanings and I’m sick of it.

Anyway, even though Spinner has to be working, he still takes time to flirt with Manny. They began dating a few episodes ago, I believe, and Spinner wants Manny to commit to being boyfriend and girlfriend, officially. I assume they would be by default since they are dating. But, no, Spinner wants Manny and him to go steady. Go steady? What is this, Happy Days? Hey Spinner, do you want Manny to wear your Letterman jacket and be your only gal? Do you want to pick her up in your Chevy and drive her to Makeout Point, where you’ll kiss with tongues while Frank Sinatra and Big Bopper play on the AM radio? Actually, that sounds romantic, and way better than dating is now. Dating these days is horrible when you have to spend hours trying to make yourself look not hideous on Tinder and find the rare person who is less hideous than you doesn’t live with a dozen pitbulls.

“That’s Rex. He really likes you.”

“He’s biting my face off!”

“Nah, those are love kisses. He’s a gentle boy.”

“Please I need to go to the hospital.”

“You said you liked dogs! Now you’re dripping blood all over my carpet. Get out before I call the cops!”

Anyway, what’s absurd is that Manny won’t agree to be his girlfriend yet. What? Why? He’s Spinner. Teenagers are dumb. It’s too bad most of them are immune to COVID-19.

After the theme song, Manny shows a new student named Chester around. Looking back at the original recap, Billie referred to Chester as “Esk*** kid”. Yikes! On behalf of Warm Fuzzy Glow, Boycott the Caf, and our parent company, Al Jazeera Digital Media, I want to apologize to the Indigenous Community of Canada for our past use of the “e-word”. It is as unacceptable today as it was back then.

Craig then approaches Manny to apologize for getting her pregnant last year and spending all day hopping from one garage sale to another while she had an abortion. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes,” Craig says, “but you were probably the biggest.” Way to apologize and dunk on her at the same time. I think Craig is trying to make amends after he learned he is bipolar. Mentally ill people have to complete a 12 step program, I suppose. But Manny is not ready to hear this and walks away.

I think Manny is being unreasonable. Girl, you had the abortion, let the resentment go. You got to start over at the clinic, like you were never even pregnant—literally!

Abortion is a controversial issue. And I am for it. Don’t get me wrong, I 100% agree with pro-lifers that a fetus is a lifeform and abortion is murder. It’s just that I am OK with murder of the unborn. Everyday Goddamn day I have to deal with shithead parents who don’t know how to manage children, dragging around their little shithead children that never should have have been born. I’m sick of shitty kids and parents everywhere. I wish abortion was more common. I want to hand out morning after pills in gift bags. I’d put in it the water supply if I could. Seriously, do you want Manny and Craig to be parents? As stupid as they are, their kid wouldn’t stand a chance. The Canadian taxpayers already have to subsidize a lot of stupid e-words up north.

My point is, I think abortion should be legal, but also a woman goes to Hell for having one. And as Christian who uses Sundays to sleep in, I am firm in my principles.

So…anyway, next, Paige tricks Manny into filling in for her in a meeting she and Marco have with the principal, Mr. Raditch. I think the principal will know the difference between Paige and Manny. They are two of only a dozen kids in this entire school who do everything. But then, Mr. Raditch comes out of his office holding a box of his things. The school board fired him after the shooting. I guess he had to let Marco and Paige be the first to know.

The new principal is that blonde woman. I forget her name, but think she was a teacher. She’d better hope there isn’t another school shooting in the next 90 days while she’s still in her probationary period. She wants Manny and Marco to come up with a way to boost morale at Degrassi. It’s good the principal asked a girl and a gay boy to come up with ideas, because a straight boy wouldn’t take it seriously. He’d be like, “Uh…how ‘bout we give everyone a copy of Halo 2? Derr…” with his mouth open the whole time (Halo 2 was a big game in 2004, if you’ll recall).

Next, Spinner tries to woo Manny with a stuffed llama. It’s a toy, not a real llama stuffed by a taxidermist (Spinner already did that to woo Grizzly Adams). But Manny just takes it without committing to being his girlfriend. If she doesn’t want to go steady, she better give the llama back. Spinner stole it from his sister’s bedroom.

Manny and Marco try to brainstorm ideas, but keep getting distracted by talking about Britney’s marriage to Kevin Federline (hot gossip in 2004). Chester comes by and suggests a dance, with the twist that they use a computer survey to match up couples. That would be awkward and humiliating to boys and girls alike. The survey asks each student their favorite movie, band and such. As Billie pointed out before, the survey would be useless because most boys and girls have complete opposite tastes in music and movies. Every other girl will get matched with Marco.

At lunch, Spinner tells Manny he can’t attend the dance because he has to work. “If you can’t commit to a simple dance,” asks Manny, “How can you commit to me?” It’s clear Manny is not really upset about the dance. She said that when she really meant something else. Girls communicate their feelings to men in riddles. If you are a boy, think of a girl as the Riddler and you as Batman. You must solve the riddles to win the day. Also, dress up as those characters in bed. You many find it to be quite erotic.

By the way, Manny is wearing low cut jeans. I miss those. They were the best part of turn of millennium fashion. Remember when you could see a girl’s belly button? Nowadays, women wear the high wasted jeans that go up to their bra. I blame Taylor Swift. But it’s also the fault of fat women who want to hide their belly rolls. That means we’re never going back to low waist jeans, because the population sure as hell isn’t going to get less fat.

If we’re going to let fatties dictate apparel, why are only pregnant women allowed to wear maternity pants? I want everyone to wear them. They look so comfy, with those large elastic waistbands. You could eat all you want and your pants will still fit. It would be heaven.

Anyway, the next day is Mr. Raditch’s resignation speech before the student body. I don’t think that’s something principal do. At the very least, Degrassi could have him resign like Nixon, where he boards a helicopter and waves to the crowd before leaving.

Chester gets to work on the dance matchmaking survey. The computer has matched Manny with Liberty’s little brother. I have a feeling Liberty’s brother will be much happier about this than Manny. Finally his years of listening to Jessica Simpson have paid off! But Manny wants to be paired with Chester, so changes her answers to match his. Her favorite movie is Honey (of course), but types in Donnie Darko, which Chester likes. Chester must be an idiot.

Later, at the dance, Manny finds she is again paired with Liberty’s brother, and sees Chester dancing with Darcy, in one of her first appearances. She looked so different back then without her massive hair extensions. Marco reversed Manny’s tampering because Marco takes the integrity of the dance survey very seriously. Marco tells Manny that she is scared to be with Spinner because Craig hurt her. That makes sense. It probably doesn’t help that Spinner and Craig are friends. “You need to get over yourself,” he tells Manny. I love how Marco made it his business to get Spinner a girlfriend. Spinner did help Marco prepare for his first date with Paige’s brother. This is what their friendship is about.

Meanwhile, Paige has been secretly dating a young teacher named Mr. Orlando. They are doing a bad job of keeping this a secret, because they keep discussing their relationship in school. Paige asks Marco for help, but he is busy helping Spinner this week, so Paige is on her own. Marco is mad that Paige also tried to fix the survey and came with a printout that showed her matched with Mr. Orlando. Mr. Orlando states that he never took the survey because he is a teacher. Nobody ever called Paige smart.

Paige and Mr. Orlando work out their bullshit and almost kiss in the hallway while the dance is going on. But they stop when Manny sees them! Oh no, Paige you had better do whatever it takes to make sure Manny keeps quiet. Paige, you’re going to have to become Manny’s butler.

Or come up with a plausible lie. “No Manny, hon, it wasn’t what it looked like. Mr. O was choking me. That’s it. No big deal.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, they kiss again in the school parking lot. Come on! Plenty of people had to have seen that!

Am I the stupid one? Were student-teacher relationships allowed in Canada? I know that in ‘70s movies, you could see, like, a 30-something guy with a 15-year-old girlfriend, and rock stars would do that in real life, but times change and this episode was only 16 years ago. I was around back then, I know teachers could get arrested for what Mr. Orlando is doing.

Anyway, let’s get back to Manny and Spinner. Spinner makes a surprise appearance at the dance. He started a kitchen fire to close the Dot early. However, Manny is not ready to Spin love with Spinner and is still trying to Chest love with Chester, so tries to show her dance moves to the new kid. But she is horrible. She dances like how black people think white people dance. You’d think she would be a better dancer, being a cheerleader. Maybe the cheer team isn’t that good. Maybe all the cool girls in Degrassi are in Majorettes. We never see them because they are twirling their batons and having their own adventures on a better Canadian high school soap, Toronto Hills M4K 1B9.

Finally, Manny takes Marco’s advice to heart and realizes Spinner is the boy for her. But since she has been leading Chester on, she has to let him down. Chester is mad and is all, “I thought Degrassi would be so much better than Nunavet. This place sucks. I hate you all.” Way to go Manny, you made another school shooter.

I wish Degrassi did have another shooting, instead of that Kevin Smith silliness that ended the season. Then Raditch could have gone to the school board to get his job back. “See? It’s not my fault the shooting happened. It’s the students’. These kids are fucked up!”

Anyway, Manny agrees to be Spinner’s girlfriend, with one condition: that Spinner promise to never get her pregnant. Spinner can’t make that promise, so Manny asks that he just won’t break her heart. Spinner can promise that.

Conclusion:

I like this episode. It had a good story and character development for Manny. Her actions made sense based on the way Craig hurt her last year. Season 4 was part of a short period in Degrassi’s run when the writers remembered past episodes and could follow their own continuity. And while the intense episodes about a shooting or blow job are the most memorable, there is something enjoyable about a simple story that focuses on the real way teenagers can hurt one another just trying to find their own happiness.

I see that Billie disagreed, only gave the episode a C, and wrote a short review that was oddly angry. Degrassi could make Billie quite angry, from what I saw as an intern.

My internship at Warm Fuzzy Glow was strange. I would be in the stockroom, sewing underwear, and hear Billie wandering the halls muttering. The breakroom only had raw carrots because that was all anyone was allowed to eat. Billie would munch on them while talking like Bugs Bunny and get mad when I didn’t do the same. I’d get woken up at 3:30am with a phone call telling me to go to Wal-Mart to buy goldfish and plastic tubs. Billie kept the office crowded with plastic tubs full of goldfish and never explained why. It smelled and the fish would die because Billie never bought filters.

I think spending so much time on Degrassi drove Billie Green insane. In a way, I think dying from a policeman’s bullet was blessing and brought Billie some peace.

You can watch “Bark at the Moon” on Youtube! Do so at your own risk, because Google will forever know you watched Degrassi.

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