Degrassi Revisited: “Message in a Bottle”, Season 2, Episode 16

TV Review

How’s COVID been for you? I don’t know anyone who’s gotten sick, so am confidant in saying COVID is a hoax and we should all be breathing on each other. I want to hate this months long lockdown, but, truthfully, it hasn’t really affected me. I have no friends and never go anywhere. 2020 has been pretty much like 2019 for me, except I have to wear a mask to Wal-mart, and it closes at 8:30 pm, like a folksy small town Wal-mart from a bygone era.

There is one aspect of this pandemic that I have taken pleasure in: how it’s cut through the hubris bigger states have about themselves. As a life long resident of Michigan, I’ve never had a reason to be proud of my state, and resent there are states where people do. Watching them taken down a peg makes me happy.

For instance, early in the outbreak, California had very few cases and acted like they were managing it right and the rest of us were too dumb to figure out. “We’re like our own country. We aren’t following Drumpf. We got this.” Then COVID hit them so hard, and they had to close businesses, shut down Hollywood, arrest people trying to use the beach, and make everyone wear masks outdoors. Ha ha! With your gyms and yoga studios closed, Californians, soon you’ll be just as fat as we are in the Midwest!

Then Texas was all like, “We ain’t pussies like California. We ain’t afraid of no Coronavirus. YEE-HAW!” Knock that off. You had to shut down the same time California did. You Texans aren’t as tough as you claim. You deserve Joe Rogan.

Being stuck inside has started to wear on me. I’ve regressed to the point where I’ve been watching old Degrassi. Yeah, I’m going stir crazy. Recently, I saw Message in a Bottle” the season 2 episode that originally aired January 17, 2003, and wanted to re-recap the original on Boycott the Caf. I like this episode because it centers on Sean, the most interesting character from the early seasons. He’s the original bad boy of Canada. Sorry Jacques Loubier, the lumber jack who plays by his own rules.

We see a key unlock a door, footsteps, the key flung on a table, a Coke can opened. Then it is revealed that this is Sean’s hovel, where he brought Emma to study. It’s not exactly The Sopranos or Breaking Bad quality cinematography, but it’s nice to go back to when the people who made Degrassi put a little effort into their show. Sean lives with his adult brother, Tracker, who shows up because he quit his job as a jizz mopper. Tracker kicks Sean and Emma out so he can have a girl over. Tracker is ashamed to show anyone the type of girl he can get.

We then go to the school, where basketball practice is bouncing away (tee-hee!). Sean and Jimmy are on the team but don’t like each other for some such reason. But Spinner brokers a peace accord. See, Jimmy will host a party tonight, Spinner tells Jimmy to invite Sean, and Jimmy does. You don’t say no to Spinner.

Meanwhile, Emma’s parents have been planning a dinner for Sean for a week, but Emma still hasn’t invited him. If I was Emma, I wouldn’t want anyone to meet my parents either. But since the dinner is tonight, Manny pushes Emma to tell Sean.

“No!” yells Sean, upon receiving the invitation. He was really angry, like offended at the offer. I always liked eating dinner at a friend’s house. It was nice to see what another kid’s mother cooked, how their dinner setup looked, and experience a family meal where the mom and dad didn’t scream at each other the whole time.

Sean would rather go to Jimmy’s party. But Mr. Simpson comes by, grabs Sean’s butt, and is excited to have Sean over. He’s such a cool kid and Simpson could brag to everyone that he hung out with Sean. Emma says her mom will make sushi. Wait, isn’t Emma a vegetarian? Maybe she considers fish a vegetable. Maybe she thinks refusing to eat Japanese food would be racist. Either way, they’re having sushi tonight.

Then we go to Jimmy, who looks longingly at Ashley. They broke up after her escapade with Ecstasy last year, but he still pines for her. Of course, since Ashley is goth now, she won’t date Jimmy unless he starts wearing black makeup. “She’s become a vampire,” Spinner tells Jimmy. Goths had been a thing in the US for twenty five years at this point, but must’ve been new to Canada. Spinner doesn’t know what to make of it.

I’m not even sure what Ashley and Ellie are doing is strictly goth. They have too much color in their appearance (at least Ashley and Ellie are black in demeanor). They look more like Avril Lavigne (remember her?), pop-punk filtered through Hot Topic and the Warped Tour. To be fair to Ashley and Ellie, I think goth culture was greatly diluted since the ‘90s. These two grew up in a time when Christina Ricci was considered goth. Really, all you had to do to be goth in 2003 was not smile and watch Tim Burton movies a lot. Ashley and Ellie made multiple trips to the theater for his remake of Planet of the Apes.

Fun fact: The actress who played Ellie hated her goth look and that is why the producers toned it down later on. Which is good because the character wanted to pursue a career in journalism. If Ellie was interviewing people and reporting stories while dressed goth, she’d look dumber than Chris Cuomo.

Anyway, Jimmy invites Terri to his party. He doesn’t want Terri there, but Terri will be sure to bring Ashley. In the hallway, Paige and Terri talk about the party while Ashley and Ellie are behind them. I don’t know if they are walking as a group or it’s a coincidence Ashley and Ellie are right behind them. But now we have confirmation that Ashley knows about Jimmy’s party. Paige can’t attend because she’s getting her vagina dyed or something. I don’t know why we had to hear that, but I guess we had to know that Paige won’t be there.

Back at the hovel, Sean is mad at his brother for losing his job. “Money is important, Sean,” says Tracker, “but so is my pride.” Tracker demands respect when he’s on the clock, mopping up jizz at the Wank-o-drome. Sean says Tracker is behaving just like their dad, but Tracker responds that, unlike papa, he doesn’t waste all his money on booze. Tracker assures Sean that he has an interview at another porn theater. Good for Tracker. You don’t want to spend your whole career as a jizz mopper at the same porn theater. Your skills will go stale. Stale and crusty.

Sean takes some pickled herring out of the fridge and heads to Emma’s house. What’s the deal, Sean? You aren’t going to a Norwegian wedding? You know what’s funny? I saw that and really wanted some pickled herring. I looked it my fridge and there just so happened to be half a jar of pickled herring way in the back! I don’t know how old it was, but pickled herring can’t spoil. It pretty much already is.

Anyway, the whole family is getting ready for the big dinner in Sean’s honor. Simpson opens a bottle of wine. I don’t like that the only two adults insist on drinking alcohol when the meal is for kids. Open a bottle of Faygo for everyone. Sean arrives and is uncomfortable because they have to sit on the floor like real Japanese people do in Japan. They even use the coffee table as a dinner table. Fucking weebs. Sean doesn’t know how to use chopsticks, so stabs the sushi like a boss. I like that. I don’t know how to use chopsticks either, so I eat sushi with a spoon.

Sean goes to get water, sees the wine, and takes a big drink. He slammed that 6oz glass like it was nothing. I am an adult, and if I downed that much, I’d have to lie in bed next to a bucket. Also, Sean did that in clear view of everyone else. There is no door between the kitchen and living room. But Simpson and Spike could get in trouble for letting a kid drink in their house, especially since Simpson is a teacher. So it’s best if everyone pretends it never happened.

Now that I think about it, that might be sake, since everything about this meal is Japanese. Sake is called Japanese wine, except it’s made from rice, so should be called Japanese beer, or maybe whiskey. The Japanese don’t know what wine is. That’s our fault, though, we in the West. It’s kind of mean that we’ve had relations with Japan since the 1850s, but not one of us ever explained grapes. It’s the worst thing we’ve ever done to Japan.

Anyway, Sean drunkenly spills pie on Emma*, so she goes to change, and then Simpson goes to tinkle on the potty (he sits down of course), so Sean is left alone with Spike, who wants to make conversation. It goes about as well as any conversation between a teen boy and an over the hill woman could. Snake says it must be nice to get a home cooked meal. “Because I don’t get home cooked meals at home?” Sean says sarcastically. He should have shot back that sushi was never cooked, so she is a dirty lying old cunt. Sean accuses Snake of calling him a “welfare case” and leaves in a huff.

Why is Sean so ashamed? Being a welfare case in Canada would be sweet because they have actual welfare. If I lived in Canada, I would never get a job. I’ve seen Trailer Park Boys—being a deadbeat in Canada is a lot of fun.

*I blame Mr. Simpson for having puny little girl arms that can’t pass a pie tray.

Every party needs fresh apples. They are a healthy snack!

The party is bopping at Jimmy’s. Kids are making out (the boy extras probably enjoyed that assignment more than the girls) and dancing to some song from white guys pretending to be Bobby Brown. Music is weird.

I had a sad realization a few months ago, when Ben Shapiro, the tiny conservative pundit, complained about a song by Cardie Bee and Meg Stallone, and was mocked over and over. People my age are old enough to be out of touch with pop music! I know that, spiritually, Ben Shapiro is the world’s youngest Baby Boomer, but it still makes me feel old—even more than the fact my knees hurt when I sit down on the toilet.

I am fine with laughing at Ben Shapiro. He certainly deserves it. But can these people also admit that “WAP” is not a very good song? “But it’s empowering to women!” Sure, I’ll concede that. Every 9-year-old girl needs to hear “WAP” every morning before school to inspire her to fight the Republican Party. “WAP” truly exemplifies the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I get that. Now I want you to admit that it’s a terrible song. The lyrics are simple and the beat is boring.

Cardie Bee is so stupid she makes me wistful for the time of Lil Kim. You kids may think Cardie Bee is something new and groundbreaking, but Lil Kim’s songs were just as sexual and provocative, but actually sounded good. The Jump Off is catchier than anything Cardie Bee has done, with better lyrics too. I make a Sprite can disappear in my mouth. Man, I’d like to see that. I wish I could do that. It would be a neat trick to show at parties! That’s Lil Kim, she told a story with her songs. Lighters Up” told me that particular part of Brooklyn is a place I should avoid. How Many Licks” told me masturbating to Lil Kim’s poster would help me get through prison. God bless you Lil Kim, wherever you are.

So…anyway, Sean arrives at Jimmy’s party drunk. He is happy to see Spinner, but who isn’t? He gets along with Jimmy, too. Good thing Sean is a happy drunk, like a German, and not a mean drunk, like an Irishman.

Craig asks Sean if he has been drinking. Craig is wearing a leather jacket over a sweater. He must be sweaty as hell. He has two of the warmest items of clothing on top of one another, and he’s indoors, in a crowded room with people dancing. Of course, he has to dress in black to indicate he is a rocker. In contrast, Sean always wears a denim jacket to show he is poor but tough.

The kids of Degrassi dress like cartoon characters, and I love it.

Sean sees a bottle of the Devil’s Sprite that belongs to Jimmy’s dad. Sean takes it—because the white man always take from the black man—and pours it into a pop bottle, which every teenager thinks is a full proof way to sneak booze around. But Sean also keeps the booze bottle. Sean, you so crazy.

Emma arrives and tells Sean, “So sooooorry about my mom.” Seriously, I think she set the record for the most Canadian slur of sorry ever. She should get an award from the prime minister. Emma tries to grab the bottle from Sean. He keeps it away but then drops it on the floor, where it shatters. Immediately, the music stops. That comes from a movie trope: something happens to stop the party, there is a record scratch. They can’t do that anymore because kids don’t know how to use record players. Someone hit the pause button on the CD player just in time.

Jimmy kicks Sean out and picks up the glass. He cuts his finger and then Ashley kneels down next to him and takes his hand. Maybe Spinner was right about her being a vampire!

Emma and Sean are on the other side of the highway from Jimmy’s estate. Sean is hungover. Emma calls her parents for a ride. But I don’t think they are too far away. Sean walked from his house to Emma’s and then to Jimmy’s. Or maybe he took the bus. For all I know, Emma and Sean are sitting at some odd looking Canadian style bus stop right now.

The next day at school, Jimmy is mad at Sean. But then Jimmy gets a kiss from Ashley. Ask me, Jimmy should thank Sean for setting in motion what led to that kiss. At least give him some money.

Emma tries to comfort Sean. She has on her signature dolphin jeans, which are meant to help. Dolphins are very soothing. Also, she has boxing gloves tied to her waist. I don’t know what’s up with that.

Conclusion

This was a nice, simple, classic Degrassi story. No dumb gimmicks, no superfluous characters or scenes. No obnoxious politics, even. This is Degrassi done right.

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