All posts by Maria Ramos

Maria is a writer interested in comic books, cycling, and horror films. Her hobbies include cooking, doodling, and finding local shops around the city. She currently lives in Chicago with her two pet turtles, Franklin and Roy. You can follow her on Twitter @MariaRamos1889

Degrassi: Then and Now

When the long-loved teen television show Degrassi was cancelled in mid-2015, it was met with much wailing and gnashing of teeth by the public at large. Since the first Degrassi series’ premiere in 1979, the show has been a mainstay for Canadians in general and audiences worldwide as the show’s popularity grew. It is that same international love that may have been what saved the show as, only a short time later, it was announced that Netflix would be picking up a new Degrassi series, thus continuing the long-running franchise.

Since its initial run as The Kids of Degrassi Street in 1979, the Degrassi franchise has been tackling personal issues that teenagers of its time have faced in a dramatic but relatable way. Ida Makes a Movie, the first entry in Degrassi canon, addresses the issue of honesty. In its two-year, 26-episode run, The Kids of Degrassi Street also addressed incarcerated parents, neighbourhood gangs, and the sudden death of friends among other problems.

In 1986, Degrassi Junior High premiered to a new generation and addressed new problems, including teen pregnancy, divorce and abuse. Degrassi Junior High also featured the return of some familiar faces, albeit as different characters. Stacie Mistysyn, who played Lisa on The Kids of Degrassi Street, was now Caitlyn Ryan. Neil Hope, who played Griff, was now Derek “Wheels” Wheeler. Degrassi Junior High lasted for three seasons before continuing as Degrassi High in 1989, continuing to address the issues of the time, which now included the AIDS crisis, gay rights and eating disorders.

When Degrassi was brought back for a new generation in 2001, it was dubbed Degrassi: The Next Generation. Since then, it has run for 14 seasons, following the lives of Degrassi teenagers, some of whom are the children of the original class. Over the course of the past 15 years there have been many cast changes as classes have grown and graduated, but the core idea remains the same: to tackle issues of the day in a way that teenagers can relate to. As such, certain archetypes always remain: goths like Ellie Nash and Eli Goldsworthy, or the school idol like Jimmy Brooks and Zoe Rivas.

For example, class of 2014 graduate Alli Bhandari contains strong echoes of Class of 2007 graduate Manny Santos. Both are intelligent women from minority backgrounds who want to be popular and express this through their clothing choices, and both experience a series of boy problems. Their stories have differing details, though: Alli is briefly in an abusive marriage, while Manny undergoes an abortion. And new generations bring new issues and thus, new types of characters. The character of Adam Torres, introduced in 2010, was Degrassi’s first transgender character.

At the heart of the show are the relationships. The rivalries, friendships, love triangles and pairings may have come together and permutated in different ways throughout each series, but always in familiar ways to the viewers.

While waiting for Degrassi: Next Class on Netflix in 2016, it might be fun to see what the issues of Degrassi Junior High were on your local channels, or to catch reruns when they air. Degrassi remains an institution, and its willingness to approach Netflix is just another way that it is willing to change with the times. After all, the success of Degrassi is in its reflection of the times and issues of the day.

Degrassi: Next Class airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Family during their F2N programming block and streams on Netflix outside of Canada beginning on Jan. 15.


The Best Moments from Season 3 of Orphan Black

Sarah Manning and her sister clones have proved to us once again that they are a force to be reckoned with in the third season of Orphan Black. While the last two seasons gave us some unexpected plot twists and reveals, the third was just as riveting.

Here’s a closer look at some of the most outlandish, perplexing, and downright shocking moments of a season that veered off into some unexpected (yet delightfully entertaining) directions:

Sarah Attacks Ferdinand
In the premiere episode, “The Weight of This Combination,” Sarah kicks us off with an attempt at murder. She poses as Rachel (who’s still recovering from being shot by Sarah with a pencil fired from a makeshift gun), to get to Ferdinand, a Top-Side employee looking to get rid of all the Leda clones. We almost see her succeed by strangling him with a belt until Delphine intervenes and tells her to stand down. Considering his conspiracy with Rachel, it goes without saying that we all wanted Sarah to fully carry out the murder.

Bedroom Dance Performance by Alison and Donnie
Alison and Donnie Hendrix celebrate their new found wealth in one of the more irreverent but incredibly entertaining and lighthearted moments in the sixth episode “Certain Agony of the Battlefield.” We find the two busting out some hilariously bizarre moves in their undies as money flies everywhere not unlike a typical rap music video. Considering how serious things were getting with the unfolding new information about Project Castor, this scene cut the tension tremendously.

Mrs. S and Helena Fight… Then Make Up
The seventh episode, “Community of Dreadful Fear and Hate,” finds Helena hungry for Siobhan’s (a.k.a. Mrs. S) blood after she found out about Mrs. S’ betrayal. But when she attempts to get a rise out of her, Mrs. S refuses to fight since Helena is pregnant. After a few thrown punches, the scene de-escalates with a tight embrace and Mrs. S’ acceptance of Helena into the family.

Felix Pretends to Be Straight
In order for Rachel to decode Duncan’s book, Sarah must get her out of Dyad to somewhere far, far away. This requires the identity of another clone who is not self-aware: Krystal Goderitch. Sarah and Felix come up with a plan to steal her ID and passport with Felix pretending to be a straight man with an American accent getting a manicure. Their flirtation is more than awkward, knowing that Felix is actually gay. Either way, it makes for an amusing scene.

Helena Murders the Drug Dealers
After failing to get the refund from the drug dealers in the second to last episode of the season, “Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow,” Helena (in a not-so-convincing disguise as Alison) and Donnie are on their way out when Pouchy’s niece threatens Donnie and Alison’s kids—a big mistake. Moments later, there’s a high body count as the Portuguese drug dealers take the full brunt of Helena’s rage. It just goes to show that you don’t mess with a mother and her babies, even if they aren’t biologically hers.

The third season of Orphan Black presents several new dynamics to the series. The drama in this season is countered by some refreshing comedic moments, proving that there’s much more to this show than meets the eye. Check out what makes Orphan Black so amusing and groundbreaking by re-watching past seasons in Canada on CraveTV and CTV, where Season 3 will be rebroadcast starting on July 4 (and on Netflix, DirecTV and Comcast Xfinity in the U.S.). Although science, drama, and action are at the forefront, it’s the smaller details that many of us look forward to. It’s these very elements that add to the anticipation of what’s to come in season four next year.