Sunday, August 21, 2016

Remembering "Degrassi Junior High" Episode 6 ("Rumor Has It")

It's time for another blog post about my more memorable "Degrassi" moments over the years. This week's show is episode #6 of "Degrassi Junior High" AKA "Rumor Has It." This program made its debut back in late February 1987.

Here is the summary:
Many of Ms. Avery's students think that she is a lesbian. Caitlin insists that her teacher isn't gay. After dreaming that her classmates think that she is also gay, Caitlin begins to feel self-conscious at school.
Caitlin became one of the most popular characters in "Degrassi Junior High" and "Degrassi High." She even appeared many years later in several episodes of the "Degrassi: The Next Generation" series. Stacie Mistysyn, the actress who portrayed her, was even one of the two main characters in the first episode of "The Kids of Degrassi Street" -- which is not one of my favorite episodes, but Husband Mark like it.

Ms. Avery didn't last as long as Caitlin, but she is still my favorite "Degrassi" teacher. She was portrayed by actress Michelle Goodeve.

As noted above, Caitlin began having strange dreams about Ms. Avery. Meanwhile, troublemaker Kathleen was spreading rumors about Ms. Avery being a lesbian because she lives with a woman. Caitlin begins worrying that she herself is gay. She doesn't want to be different than the other kids and she doesn't know who to turn to -- especially when the others begin questioning Caitlin's sexuality.

Caitlin finally has a heart-to-heart with Avery and tells her about the rumors. Ms. Avery explains that it's cheaper for two people to share expenses and that's why she lives with her friend Elaine. She also implied that Kathleen was lying about some of the rumors that she'd been seen kissing Elaine in town.

She then assures Caitlin that many girls and boys have sexual dreams about other boys and girls and that's it's a natural part of puberty. This provide a bit of relief for Caitlin who tells Avery that's she's a good teacher and that she's sorry for thinking that she was gay. "Would it make any difference if I were? Would you think less of me, Caitlin?"

Those two closing questions and Caitlin's response (a negative head-shake) ended up getting "Rumor Has It" banned in the UK and in parts of the Bible Belt.

I would have been 15 when this episode aired. This was before the Age of the Internet when you could seek out support from other gay teens via bulletin boards and chat groups, etc. It was also an age when it was still pretty rare to see any LGBT representation outside of afternoon talk shows -- as crazy as they were! So this episode was a welcome source of affirmation for me.

Incidentally, there is a reason that I love Melanie (portrayed by actress Sara Ballingall). She wanted nothing to do with Kathleen's anti-gay rumor-mongering and was pretty blunt with the other girls:

Of course, there's probably a reason that Melanie didn't get invited to Grade Seven sleep-overs also!

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