Monday, August 07, 2006

Your Life on Drama - or - Slowest Marathon Ever

On Friday night The N began a five week marathon in which every episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation ever created will be available for viewing at some point. Needless to say, it is on this momentous broadcasting event that the relative uneventfulness of this past weekend (honestly, nothing interesting happened this weekend as far as I can tell, unless you want to move three channels higher on my digital cable and talk about Furi Kuri) can be blamed.

As easy as it is to comment on Degrassi’s brilliance in employing kids to portray kids, and how this makes for a more believable evolution of characters over time as the actors grow with their roles, it’s equally easy to comment, while watching the early episodes aired this weekend, on how poorly acted this shit is sometimes. Part of the fun of watching the show is the strange brain itchiness you get watching these young persons act: an itchiness at least equal, though, to that caused by the inevitable consequences of their characters' actions. It is hard to watch Craig drive that jalopy off of Joey’s lot without plunging your hand into the television set to pull the hand brake, screaming, “for Christ’s sake! You’re going to get caught and no good can possibly come of this! Weren’t you ever sixteen?!” No, asshole! Craig is fourteen! And so is the guy who plays him! And thus, the itchiness.

But, hey, that’s not really what I want to talk about. The real issues in this show aren’t the issues, nor the actor age=character age thing, nor, even, the indellible Canadian National Spirit oozing out of the show’s every pore. The real issue is the fact that, blow for blow, Degrassi is as good as any show on television. I think people have sort of taken to talking about reality TV, as well as watching it, a lot. Whatever. I like reality TV. But the truth is, in many ways reality TV isn’t such a new fangled idea. Most old-style TV was reality based in one way or another. The Price is Right is almost too perfect an example: you can’t get any more real than going on CBS in a sweatshirt and trying to remember how much you paid for Pop-Tarts last week. And what about Andy Griffith, or all that shit? There was stuff that was trying to be realistic, and Degrassi continues in that tradition, somewhat.

I read Chuck Klosterman’s thing on Saved by the Bell a while ago. And, you know, he talks about all the characters on that show being character types rather than characters. Certainly there are similarities between SBTB and DTNG, but this is not one of them. Anyone who can tell me what “type” Spinner is supposed to be will be proving me wrong, though, I suppose. Anyway.

It’ll be on again all next weekend (starting at six p.m., of course [that magic time when, each evening, you feel what you momentarily fear is minor heart attack, before realizing that, no, it was only that Noggin had miraculously changed into The N again {strangely enough, the three a.m. N to Noggin turnover is much less violent}]), so you should watch and learn. Craig-Ashley-Manny drama. Can’t wait.

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