Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bitter Sweet, But Well Done

As much as I hear people say awful things about the Canadian TV Show, Degrassi: The Next Generation, I can always come back and tell them about the few things this teen drama has done right. As far as I know, people who don't watch the show and have only heard about it only know it as a dramatic TV show where there's a ton of teen pregnancies and tragic things that couldn't realistically happen in one place. While this is true, some thing's that have happened on this show have really done a great deal in showing problems that teens all around the world face. 
One subject that I think they did very well in 2013, was a suicide plot in the episodes "Bitter Sweet Symphony" parts one and two. 
Campbell Saunders, a character introduced in season twelve of the franchise, was the first character to commit suicide in this chapter of Degrassi. He was a young hockey star, the youngest on his team, and very far away from home. His problems built starting from his first appearance, and made a lot of sense leading to his untimely demise. He made comments about how he missed his family, how he was bad at fitting in, how he didn't even like hockey, and that sometimes he wished he could go to sleep and never wake up. 
Degrassi did this very carefully, because they were afraid of the impact that it could have on their young audience. They led to it with a few events of Cam feeling so down to a point where he was hurting himself, but that he'd have good times too, where he was smiling and seeming to have fun. It was obviously an act, and his death wasn't something that appeared out of the blue. It showed that people, no matter popularity or stardom, or the amount of people who seem to like them, can have mental disorders. It showed the severity of the toll these problems can take on teens around the world. Personally, I think that it was very inspirational to teens facing these problems because it showed how much it could benefit them if they got help, After the episode, the actors Dylan Everett and Olivia Scriven did a PSA about how anyone facing these problems should tell someone, or at least call a suicide hotline
I also think the show did this plot well because they didn't focus on the way Cam killed himself. Instead, they focused on the aftermath of his death. It showed all of the different ways people can react to a suicide and what happens to the people who are left behind. The suicide seemingly takes place between two episodes, we leave one episode with a text from him to his girlfriend saying "it's over," then pick up the next episode with another student finding his body, never actually showing the body. Though there is a future episode that implies that it involved a lot of blood, due to the student who found his body reacting to a bucket of red paint spilled on the floor. Then we cut right to the principal telling his girlfriend and her sister what happened. We slowly see everyone's reactions to what happened. There's an array of reactions including grief, anger, guilt, disgust, and denial. And we focus on the people who played the biggest roles on his time at the school.




The two people it effected the most had the biggest reactions. His girlfriend, Maya, showed denial at first but soon became very angry with what happened, she told everyone that a candlelit vigil was stupid, and that he should've told someone, he should've told her because she would've helped him. The way the next few episodes deal with her, helps her come to terms with what happened. 
 His hockey friend, Dallas, felt extreme guilt and anger, because he had previously yelled at him and told him to stop caring about his "junior high drama." He threw things, he yelled, he felt like he should've done something. He felt like he failed him. (I believe this was also foreshadowing of a completely different plot but I won't get into that). 
As terrible as a show that people think Degrassi is, they don't realize what it does for teens. It presents a lot of problems that are glossed over in life, in school. It shows real things that are plaguing people around the world. It shows teens that they're not alone. And, I applaud it for that. 

Also, the episode is titled after the song by The Verve, if you were wondering :). 

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