Saturday, January 7, 2017

"Degrassi: Next Class" Explores Responses to Trauma in Season 3

Season 3 of "Degrassi: Next Class" dropped on Netflix yesterday and I've already watched every episode. First season was ultimately about online bullying. Second season was about subtle and overt racism. This season was all about trauma.

Last season ended with a serious bus accident that sent several of the cast members to the hospital. This season jumps ahead to the following fall semester as those students struggle -- some better than others -- with the aftermath.

First off, the one student most seriously affected by the accident was Tristan. He's been in a coma since the accident -- with boyfriend Miles sitting by his bedside all summer long. Miles finds out early on in the semester that the other students are struggling with his daily vlog updates. It's too much of a reminder of their own recovery. Miles finds himself struggling with holding onto his comatose boyfriend and moving on with life. He finally turns to playwriting, telling his story and sharing his grief.

Maya has fallen deep into the well of depression. Everything that excited and motivated her before -- her music, her friends, and family -- means nothing to her. She's become fixated on death and dying. Her decline literally left me in tears last night.

Meanwhile, a new group of Syrian refugee students have settled into the school. Goldi and Baaz have taken in a refugee teen named Rasha, who's really nice. But Rasha develops a crush on another student that's so counter-cultural that it threatens to destroy their new friendship if Goldi finds out!

And it wouldn't be "Degrassi" if we didn't explore the everyday trials of dating, sexual behavior, teenage pregnancy, and communication pitfalls.

Season 3 of "Degrassi: Next Class" was so overwhelming and exhausting -- in a good way. I vacillated between laughter and crying and seriously couldn't turn away.

Updated to Add: How many kids along the LGBT spectrum go to school at Degrassi?? I say this as a gay guy who was alone in the 80s. I get that this takes place in Toronto and that people tend to connect with those with similar interests and outlooks, but damn...

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