Monday, August 15, 2016

Remembering "Degrassi Junior High" Episode 1 ("Kiss Me, Steph")

My mind keeps drawing me back to all things "Degrassi" this month. Last week, I posted blog posts about my two favorite episodes of "The Kids of Degrassi Street." That was the precursor series to thirty years of "Degrassi" continuity. I thought it would be fun to check in on other episodes of "Degrassi" programs. Keep in mind that I do not plan to do reviews of each episode. That would be crazy.

Today, I'm going go back to where the continuity began! "The Kids of Degrassi Street" might have kicked off the franchise, but "Degrassi Junior High School" kicked off the continuity. Everything that is currently happening in "Degrassi: Next Class" over at Netflix started here -- including one of the current characters: Principal Archie Simpson (AKA Snake!). Yes, Principal Simpson was once a gangly teen with a guitar and a stupid nickname.

Principal Snake
"Degrassi Junior High" first aired on January 18, 1987. I used to watch the program on public television and fell in love with the characters pretty quickly. The first episode was called "Kiss Me, Steph." It introduced Stephanie Kaye and her best friend Voula Grivogiannis. They were starting Grade Eight in this episode, which made Steph feel all grown up. So she updated her image with more "mature" clothing. Of course, her mother would never permit this. So she would wear more conservative clothes at home and then change into more provocative clothes and make-up once she made it to school. This worked great until Picture Day -- but that's an episode for another day!

On the first day of school, it is announced that there will be a school presidential election -- though you would think that there would be a school prime minister in a Toronto-based school. But what do I know? Stephanie is annoyed by a school announcement inviting the school's boys to apply for office. This annoyance quickly turns into a mission after she decides to run for president with BFF Voula as her very involved campaign manager.

Keep in mind that Stephanie Kaye was pretty much the Donald Trump of her day. Voula made up signs, wrote speeches, and created responsible campaign messages. Which Stephanie later transformed into her "All the Way with Stephanie Kaye" slogan. She also allowed any boy to kiss her in exchange for a kiss. This angered the girls, but Stephanie reasoned that she didn't need girl votes if she got all of the boy votes!

Things came to a head when Stephanie thanked the one person who'd stood by her side throughout that difficult 2-day election cycle: Joey Jeremiah! This really angered Voula, who felt used and cast aside. Stephanie ends up winning the election in a landslide.

Her disrespectful behavior towards Voula during the campaign pretty much kills their friendship. She begs Voula to forgive her, arguing that boys like Jeremy like compliments and attention. Voula points out that girls like acknowledgements also, especially best friends. Stephanie finds herself one of the most popular girls in school, but with nobody to turn to for help or support.

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