So the time has come to write this post which I have been putting off because once I write it, it really is an end. Today will be the last episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation to air. After 14 amazing seasons the show will finish and say goodbye. While the show was picked up by Netflix to continue on, it will no longer be “The Next Generation” series. Degrassi has been on the forefront of many issues and a lot of them have been inspiring to me not only as a teenager but as a teenage girl. That is why I wanted to highlight some of my favorite moments of female empowerment on Degrassi.
From the very beginning Emma stood out. When she got her first period in class she didn’t shy away from it. In fact, she announced it for the entire class to know. Unafraid, she normalized something that is often so taboo, even for adults.
This may not seem empowering to some people but when you look at the situation Manny was in, she definitely made some hard choices that a lot of people don’t even have to think about. Her mother was going to send her away, Craig wanted to be one big happy family, and Manny wanted to grow up before she was a parent. With everyone pulling her different directions, Manny did what was right for her despite everything working against her.
Paige sings to her rapist
One of Paige’s most powerful story lines was the one that centered around her sexual assault. While she did not get the justice she deserved, she had one moment that was extremely empowering. When Ashley wrote a song about rape and Paige saw her attacker in the audience she decided in that moment to sing it and make sure he heard it.
Liberty placing her son for adoption
Liberty wanted so badly to have a family with J.T. (Lets face it, didn’t we all?) But J.T. was not in a position to be a parent and Liberty couldn’t be a single parent without any support from her family. While she didn’t want to, she placed her son for adoption.
Emma Takes off the Dress
Do you remember when Radio Free Roscoe’s Kate Todd guest starred on Degrassi? Well that was when Manny, Emma and Liberty signed up to be Purple Dragon models. Well Manny wasn’t picked because she was too short but Emma was picked. However, they wanted her to lose weight in order to keep her spot. Emma struggled with this for just a little while because of her battle with anorexia. She was able to fight the pull of her disease and not let it regain control of her life. Instead she stripped off her Purple Dragon dress in front of the entire school to show how against the company and what they stood for she really was.
Jane on the Football team
Jane was given a really hard time for even thinking about joining the football team. The coach, the team, even some of her friends were against it. Even worse, the coach let the team take things way too far. Jane was harassed and abused in an effort to get her to quit the team. In an embarrassing scene pads and tampons were thrown at her. She put the pads on and wore them like armor. Even when she was hit and thrown around by members, she did not quit the team. She continued to play football even though people thought it was impossible because she was a girl.
Fiona stands up against her abuser
Fiona’s situation with her abuser was extremely difficult. He was a family friend and the only person she knew at her new school besides her brother. He hit her multiple times and even threw her down a flight of stairs. After only a few incidents she knew she had to get out. While at first she tried to make the abuse look worse by adding makeup to her bruises, eventually she found a way to make sure he could never hurt another person. Fiona pressed charges and even convinced the girl he hurt next to testify against him. After finding that she had control and she could speak up and be heard, Fiona was a much stronger person
Zoë standing up to her rapist
Zoë was not only sexually assaulted but her assault was recorded and sent out to people in the school. She couldn’t remember anything because she had been drinking but her attacker approached her and told her no one would believe her story and that it would be better just to say she remembered it and that it was consensual. Zoë almost went along with it until she saw him hitting on her best friend. She called him out in front of the entire school. He was arrested and eventually went to jail.
Becky Standing up for Zoë
Zoë would not have been able to send her attacker to jail if it hadn’t been for the help of his sister. Becky knew what her brother did was wrong. She found the original video of the attack on her brother’s phone. Her parents, and her brother while on house arrest awaiting trial, treated her terribly for her role in him getting caught. Despite that, she still testified against him. Becky risked the trust of her family in order to do what was right and make sure a rapist did not get to walk free.
Clare and Alli being Role Models
There was no way I could pick one moment of Clare or Alli so in honor of them being the last graduating class of Degrassi: The Next Generation, I wanted to pay homage to their characters. Clare, from her first episode on Degrassi nine years ago, has listened to her heart and followed it. She has made bad choices but she has always done what was right. Together she and Alli became role models for friendship and success. Of course they fought and did things that weren’t the best, but they learned from their mistakes and always ended up friends again. Clare and Alli both started Degrassi in the gifted program. While Clare preferred literature, both girls excelled at S.T.E.M. They were both part of a team that built a winning robot. Alli even started testing theories for cancer cures at seventeen. Clare and Alli are incredibly intelligent women who have learned and grown through their time on Degrassi. Both characters have dealt with immense struggles and persevered despite of them.
So this is it, the end of Degrassi: The Next Generation. There are so many more moments from this show that could be talked about but the list would go on forever. I don’t know if I’m ready for it to be over but what ever it takes, I know I can make it through.
What are your favorite moments of female empowerment on Degrassi? Let me know in the comments below.