TV review: Degrassi Season 6

Not quite ready to be shark bait

The latest season of the Degrassi the Next Generation started three weeks ago, premiering simultaneously in the United States and Canada for the first time. In addition to revamped opening credits, the biggest change is the cast. Stars Jake Epstein(Craig), Stacey Farber(Ellie), and Lauren Collins(Paige) have been demoted to co-star or guest star status and the “younger” kids are now the seniors. The new season is off to a soapy, racy start, disputing the prediction that without its senior class, the show would jump the shark.

Miriam McDonald(Emma) is back as the female lead. We’ve watched Emma go from feminist environmental activist to good girl gone bad, from bracefaced Plain Jane to blonde beauty. In the premiere episode, Emma was reunited with first love Sean(Daniel Clark back from Hollywood)which jeopardized her relationship with Peter(Jamie Johnston, fellow July 7th birthday, can’t you tell by that tell-all face). Add some illegal drag races and witty best girlfriend commentary from Manny(the ever-fabulous Cassie Steele) and voila! Paige who? Emma has more smarts and heart and therefore will be fun to watch.

The second episode followed the older kids to college. Gay power couple Marco(Adamo Ruggiero) and Dylan(John Bregar) moved in together and were soon joined by budding journalist Ellie once she was thrown out of the dorms by a scrapbook making roommate from hell. Meanwhile, Emma kicked Peter to the curb and tried to raise funds to bounce Sean from jail. While I still haven’t forgiven Ellie for pining after Craig, it was good to see her back into her writing and reporting. Like the first episode, the second gave us some character development and intriguing plot possibilities.

Tonight’s third episode featured old/new power couple Ash(Melissa McIntyre, luminous after her year-long hiatus) and Jimmy(Aubrey Graham, so cute even my mom digs him). Like Sean and Emma, these childhood sweethearts have recently reunited with mad chemistry. What makes this pairing unique is the fact that Jimmy is paraplegic. The episode focused on their sexual relationship, another Degrassi groundbreaker. The episode also introduced Mia, a young mom and recent transfer. Mia hit it off with could-have-been-mom Manny but got nowhere with Darcy(Shenae Grimes), the new head cheerleader, best known for her evangelical Christian streak and insane jealousy. When Mia’s former classmates talked trash at the opening basketball game, a melee broke out once Manny and school mascot JT(Ryan Cooley)jumped to her defense. Nice! It made me feel like I was at work.

Forget telenovelas and American serials. I’ll stick to this Canadian import for my soap suds and “go-there” moments. I certainly don’t see any fins heading its way for a while.

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