Friday, August 12, 2016

Remembering "Kids of Degrassi Street" Episode 24 ("Martin Hears the Music")

I wrote earlier this week about one of my two favorite episodes of "The Kids of Degrassi Street." I thought I would share my other favorite episode today. It's an episode called "Martin Hears the Music." It originally aired on December 22, 1985. Here is the description for the episode:
Nobody wants to be different from everyone else, and Martin is horrified to discover that he is going to have to wear a hearing aid. And it certainly does not help that everybody starts acting so weird around him.
I should clarify early on that this episode is not my "favorite" episode so much as it's the most memorable one from my childhood. Honestly, I didn't remember the main story when I was trying to track it down. I'd totally forgotten about Martin and his hearing aid.

This episode stuck with me because of the other "different" child: Rachel. Rachel was one of the kids' leaders. She was smart. She was an organizer. She was a great singer. And she was chubby.

I was chubby as a child also. I still am. But I did not have a positive body image as a child and I was teased by my peers because of my weight. So anytime there was a television program that dealt with chubby kids, I was all over it!

You've seen the episode description. Here is the rest of the story. The Degrassi kids are planning a talent show to raise money for some project. Rachel is going to sing for the audience. She cannot wait. In fact, she has the perfect dress for her performance. It's a dress that her mother made for her and she loves it.

However, Rachel is chubby. And she's growing. She quickly discovered that she no longer fits in her dress, which is terribly upsetting. So Rachel goes on a special diet of weight loss drinks (accompanied by hungry binges of donuts!) Needless to say, she quickly becomes grumpy and bossy towards the others!

She writes a poem and anonymously submits it to the Kids' club. It's a sad poem about being different and unhappy. Everyone assumes that Martin wrote the poem because of his hearing aids. Nobody suspects that Rachel wrote it.

To make matters worse, Rachel's crash diet isn't working. She isn't losing weight, which only makes her angrier!

Anyway, the whole thing blows up and Martin -- whose mother happens to be a dietitian -- tells Rachel that she's always grumpy and points out that it's probably because she eats junk food.

To her credit, Rachel reflects on his words and decides to go speak with Martin's mom. She confesses about her crash diet and is quickly treated to a healthy meal of salad and milk. She receives a gentle lecture about growing bodies and sensible meals. Message received!

Rachel shows up at the talent show in another dress and sings the poem that had perplexed everyone for the past week:

I look in the mirror and what do I see?
Someone who's different. That someone is me.
They're laughing and pointing. They're calling me names.
They're talking about it. Why aren't I the same?

I want to belong. I want to be
just like the others. Why don't they like me?

I look in the mirror and what do I see? 
Someone who's different. That somebody's me.
There's no reason to change. Just be true to yourself.
It's not wrong to be different from everyone else.

It's nice to belong. It's important to be
accepted by others. I'm glad to be me!

I'm glad to be me!
I'm glad to be me!
Looking back at the episode 30 years later, it's interesting to note reality versus perception. Rachel wrote about being teased and alone for being different. But the kids (at least these kids) haven't been teasing her or ostracizing her. In fact, their relationship didn't become strained until she went on her crash diet and began experiencing erratic mood swings.

Still, there was a good message in this episode about positive self-image laced with healthy self-improvement.

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