The New Kids at Degrassi

I turned on my computer and went to TeenNick.com. Time to watch the season 13 premiere of Degrassi!

Credits

I was genuinely excited, mostly because I was anxiously awaiting the three new characters, Miles, Chewy, and Zoe. It is always interesting to see new characters arrive, how they fit into the current narrative and to see their humble beginnings.

If you follow this blog, you know a friend of mine was in the running to be a new cast member. I didn’t know if he had in fact been cast, as it’s a no-no to announce to the world you’re a major player until you get the okay from production. I had my worries he hadn’t made the cut because I didn’t see any change in his social media behavior.

My friend was up for the role of Miles Hollingsworth, the third, the rich bad boy who takes interest in Maya Matlin.

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While I was sad I wasn’t seeing my friend on screen, I do enjoy Eric Osborne in the role. His looks are charming and he has a way of smirking so that you aren’t sure you can trust him. As a writer, I am fascinated at how  we first meet a character. A character’s introduction is extremely important. It’s their first impression. Miles is introduced in a storage room at a concernt venue, smoking marijuana. Maya Matlin wants to get into the concert and Miles says he can get her in. He’s with the band, he tells her. Their exchange is enduring and dare I say, cute. “I’m Matlin. Maya Matlin,” says Maya, clearly tongue tied at the sight of our new Craig Manning. Miles repeats it back to her and he hurries down the staircase as Maya takes a moment to breathe as she realizes she’s interested in him.

What’s interesting about Miles is that he’s being advertised in media as a bad boy.

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But, this interpretation isn’t entirely accurate. In the episodes so far, he’s proven to be genuine and kind. He gave a credit card to Maya when she needed a cab home, hugged Tristan telling him he was fine with his sexuality— I’m sure Miles may exhibit some ‘bad boy’ qualities eventually. But, in the character’s initial introduction, he’s anything but.

I do have an issue with Zoe Rives, however.

ImageNot with the actress, mind you. Ana Golja is doing perfectly good work. It’s with the writing. Zoe is clearly a bad girl. She’s not very keen on hanging with Maya and proves she has a nasty streak in her. The issue with Zoe is this— while she is meant to be bad, I don’t think it works to have her be mean to Maya right off the bat. In most fiction, having an antagonist be mean upfront works. (Take The Wicked Witch, for example.) But Degrassi is supposed to mimic reality. This is high school. Sure, girls can be mean. But, in the context of Zoe being a new girl, I don’t think she’d show her true colors instantly. The character is an ACTRESS. So, wouldn’t it had been better to have her act all sweet and nice and slowly begin to crack? I may be taking to a wall. But, in my writing, my antagonists don’t show up immediately  trying to kill our hero. And, again with realism, I’d say there is a literary movement surrounding writing villains as well-rounded people, meaning they express positive and negative attributes. That’s the thing: Villains are people too. They need reasons and motivations for being bad. And I don’t see why Zoe is so horrible to Maya.

Image My opinion on Chewy is short. I do like the dynamic between him and Miles. It appears to be reminiscent of Toby and J.T.’s friendship. (For you young fans, those are two original characters.) As of now, Chewy’s character is mainly a support, a ‘best friend.’ He is not an individual just yet. But, I have high hopes we will soon see his ideals, hopes and dreams and see him emerge out of Miles’ shadow.

Image Lastly, I just want to point out that Degrassi’s new intro is HORRIBLE. It was always such a joy to see the new season intro’s because you would get a hint at the character’s personalities as we watched them at the school in the title sequence. I’m hoping this current intro is strictly for the Summer Block and that afterward, it is destroyed and never to return again.

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