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    12 "Degrassi" Storylines That Still Honestly Just Make Me So Uncomfortable


    Note: This post contains content around sexual assault, self-harm, mass shootings, and other disturbing topics. Please continue at your own discretion.

    Degrassi was one of the biggest hit shows of the '00s and well into the '10s. Now that all of the episodes have been uploaded to YouTube, I spent a good part of my COVID quarantine rewatching the show to bask in the nostalgia. However, as an adult, I'm now seeing many of these stories from a new perspective — and realize many of the stories say the least.

    1. Emma Is Nearly Sexually Assaulted By A Pedophile

    Emma and the real Jordan. Episode: "Mother-Child Reunion, Part 2"
    CTV / Via

    When we kick off Degrassi: The Next Generation’s pilot episode, the original cast from the ‘80s Degrassi crew is back in town for their 10-year high school reunion. Spirits are high, and everyone’s happy to be together again. And while this is all going on, Spike Nelson’s daughter, Emma, is chatting to a stranger online. She thinks she’s talking with a teenage boy, but we all know where this is headed. 

    Emma decides to sneak out and meet her online crush while her mom is at her reunion — only to find out that her supposed teenage beau is really a grown man with an affinity for teen chatrooms and pre-teens. 

    Luckily for Emma, Toby happens to be a computer genius who hacks into her email — figuring out her peril and alerting her mother. Emma is rescued just before she’s assaulted (and possibly murdered) on videotape by an online predator. This incident is literally never mentioned again — Emma shows no signs of PTSD, and she is never shown going to therapy. She just loses her bedroom computer privileges. What a cheerful note to kick off the new show!

    2. Paige Dates Her Teacher After He Threw Her Under The Bus

    CTV / Via

    Paige develops a crush on her 20-something-year-old student-teacher, Mr. Oleander. Teacher crushes among teenagers aren’t unusual, but it’s an ethical no-no for the adult teacher to reciprocate the underage teenager’s feelings — which, of course, Oleander does. 

    Paige and Oleander have a highly inappropriate relationship and eventually get busted. Paige is prepared to deny the situation but finds out that Mr. Oleander has told the school administration that Paige was a crazy stalker who threw herself at him. Even worse, Mr. Oleander convinces Paige to go along with his story to save his own ass from being kicked out of his teaching program because “she’s still young.” Paige tries to take the fall but falters, leading the administrators to get suspicious. Oleander only confesses when he realizes that he’s going to get busted, anyway. Naturally, he’s fired and booted from his program. 

    And if this wasn’t bad enough, Paige still continues to date this loser who was prepared to sacrifice her future to save his. And worst of all? Oleander ultimately ends up breaking up with her.

    3. Peter Takes Advantage of Manny and Distributes Child Porn

    Peter films Manny. Episode: "Venus, Part 1"
    CTV / Via

    In Peter Stone’s debut episode, we are quickly introduced to his white, overly privileged fuck-boy self when he decides to take advantage of an intoxicated and depressed Manny by filming her half-naked. After putting the moves on Manny and getting rejected, he then tries to extort money from her. And when she doesn’t come up with the cash, he throws a fuck-boy tantrum and emails her topless video to the entire school. What Peter did was distribute child pornography — and his punishment is a mere month of detention from his mommy, who happens to be Degrassi’s principal. The worst part? Emma later chooses to date Peter despite fully knowing the damage and emotional trauma he inflicted on her best friend.

    4. Peter Exploits Darcy To An Online Predator And She Still Dates Him

    Peter photographs Darcy. Episide: "Eyes Without a Face, Part 2"
    CTV / Via

    Peter needs to be banned from all media equipment. After using his film skills to revenge-porn Manny, Peter later sets his sights on Darcy. Darcy allows Peter to take provocative photos of her (which she thinks are password protected) for her social media. Instead, Peter distributes the pictures all over the school to force Darcy’s boyfriend, Spinner, to dump her. 

    Oh, and he also sells Darcy’s photos to an online predator who stalks Darcy to her house. You would think that Darcy would want a restraining order against Peter, but no — Darcy eventually agrees to date him.

    5. Manny Gets Engaged To Jay Knowing He Once Gave Emma Gonorrhea

    Jay and Manny at Manny's coming out party. Episode: "We Got The Beat"
    CTV / Via

    Jay is remembered for being one of the most revolting slimeballs to grace the halls of Degrassi — and for being the cause of a school-wide gonorrhea epidemic. Still depressed and traumatized from the school shooting, Emma decides to hook up with Jay — the oral variety of hooking up. Unfortunately, she finds out that Jay’s junk has been in more than one mouth, and he’s been helping to spread oral gonorrhea all over the school — including to her. 

    Jay has always been an icky character on Degrassi, but this doesn’t stop Manny from later dating and getting (fake) engaged to him just a few seasons later, because he suddenly becomes a “good guy.” Here’s hoping Manny had the good sense to demand that Jay get a thorough STD screening.

    6. Caitlin Hooks Up With Ellie's Boyfriend

    Caitlin and Jesse are caught hooking up. Episode: "Jessie's Girl"
    CTV / Via

    I don’t know what the hell happened to Caitlin in her adult years. Caitlin was supposed to be a respected and accomplished journalist who had a longstanding mentoring relationship with Ellie Nash. But that relationship took quite the beating after Caitlin hooked up with Ellie’s boyfriend, Jesse. 

    To be fair, Caitlin didn’t know that Jesse was Ellie’s boyfriend, and Jesse was a major douchebag. But c’mon, Caitlin. Getting drunk with and sleeping with a 22-year-old college student? Gross. And when you’re visiting said college to discuss your environmental film? Not exactly a professional look.

    7. Darcy Is Sent To "Brat Camp"

    Darcy at Brat Camp. Episode: "Bust A Move, Part 2"
    CTV / Via

    After being drugged and sexually assaulted at a party, Darcy has severe PTSD manifesting in behavioral problems and a suicide attempt. Her parents are at their wit’s end. 

    Their solution? Pack Darcy off to Brat Camp! Troubled Teen camps were popular in the early ‘00s and were later revealed to be hotbeds for abuse and misconduct — in other words, the absolute worst place for Darcy given her mental and emotional state. To be fair, Darcy’s parents didn’t know she was assaulted since Darcy never told them. But Darcy’s friends knew what happened, and no one thought to inform her parents after Darcy tried to kill herself on school property. 

    Otherwise, Darcy would be getting psychiatric help at a facility with trained professionals...not carted off to a most likely unlicensed woo-woo camp run by two college students. But here, this hippy-dippy camp is the ultimate cure-all for Darcy’s trauma. In reality, a place like this would probably amplify a sexual assault victim’s trauma ten-fold.

    8. Caitlin Orders Spike Some Strippers

    Caitlin brings in the strippers. Episode: "I Against I"
    CTV / Via

    Spike and Snake are on the outs, and it looks like divorce is on the horizon after Snake gets caught smooching the hot, blonde Degrassi principal. So, like any good friend, Caitlin tries to lift Spike’s bringing strippers to Spike. To her house. Right in front of Spike’s underage daughter and her daughter’s underage friend. 

    First of all, strippers are not a surprise everyone appreciates — especially in their own homes. Secondly, bringing strippers into a house with young teenagers is a huge no-no. Not only that, but strippers can get into legal trouble for performing where minors are present. In fact, Spike — as the homeowner — could also get into legal trouble for having strippers in her home where minors reside. Caitlin’s judgment in this series really goes beyond the pale.

    9. Homophobic Bully Owen Becomes "The Good Guy"

    Owen and Anya at a club. Episode: "Paper Planes, Part 1"
    CTV / Via

    Owen was a character introduced in Season 10, and he was essentially supposed to be a lower low-rent Jay. He was a homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic bully. But once he shows interest in Anya, suddenly he’s a nice guy. Owen catches Anya at a bad time where everything is going wrong in her life, and amid her depression, she develops a cocaine problem. 

    Compared to the hot mess that is Anya, Owen is now a mature, sensible young man who has direction in his life. And Anya agrees to date him even though he tormented two of her good friends for being gay. Owen’s personality change literally comes out of nowhere, and he’s never really held accountable for his past actions. Everything is forgiven because he helps Anya get accepted into the army and overcome her cocaine dependency.

    10. Emma Abandons Her Friend To A Diabetic Coma

    Emma and an unconscious Becca. Episode: "Touch of Grey"
    CTV / Via

    Emma’s freshman year of college is challenging: she can’t seem to find her footing and make new friends. That is, until she finds out that if you have drugs and are willing to share, everyone will want to be your friend! Yes, Emma gets a hold of some pot and generously lets others partake in her stash, earning her the nickname “Blaze.” This nickname only sounds cool until you realize that everyone is basically calling her a pothead. 

    Emma decides to further cement her status as the popular weed girl by baking pot brownies for a dorm party. Her weed treats go over well until one of her new friends passes out and is literally foaming at the mouth. Emma is too high to care, figuring the girl is just wasted and needs to sleep it off. But the next day, Emma finds out her friend has actually fallen into a diabetic coma caused by getting too high to take her medication. Emma isn’t even particularly remorseful until she finds out the cops are conducting dorm drug searches — she’s a lot sorrier that her boyfriend takes the fall for her weed stash and gets booted from campus residency.

    11. Sav and Ms. Oh Hook Up

    Sav and Ms. Oh kissing. Episode: "Don't Panic, Part 1"
    CTV / Via

    Here we have another example of a student-teacher “relationship.” Here we have the story of Sav and the new Media Immersion teacher, Ms. Oh, getting the hots for each other. What makes this so egregious is how the show frames this relationship — we’re supposed to think it’s totally okay for these two to hook up. 

    Other stories of Degrassi teachers committing misconduct with a student have always been framed as incredibly wrong. And icky. But here? We’re supposed to root for these two! Yes, Sav is supposed to be 18 and on the verge of graduating while Ms. Oh is supposed to be in her early 20s, but it doesn’t make the situation any less unethical. It’s still an abuse of power. 

    And when the relationship “ends,” Sav goes to college while Ms. Oh never faces any repercussions for her actions — she remains a Degrassi teacher and will presumably strike one day again.

    12. All of Degrassi: School's Out

    Snake and Joey argue. "Degrassi: School's Out"
    CTV / Via

    So, this isn’t actually from Degrassi: The Next Generation — it’s the TV movie that officially ended the original ‘80s Degrassi High series. However, it’s an important episode to note because it essentially kicks off all the misery that is to come for “the next generation.” 

    Before the TV movie, everyone appears to be doing well. Joey was doing better in school, Wheels was getting his act together and got a good job, Caitlin had recovered from her ex-boyfriend’s suicide — basically, everyone’s in a good place with bright futures ahead. 

    Then School’s Out takes a massive dump on everyone: Joey and Caitlin get engaged after graduation, but it doesn’t take long for Joey to get bored with Caitlin’s busy work schedule and start cheating on her with Tessa Campinelli. Tessa Campinelli gets pregnant by Joey and has to go alone to get an abortion. Wheels later gets drunk at a summer party, drives his car with friend Lucy in the passenger seat, and gets into an accident. The accident seriously injures Lucy and ends up killing a child passenger in the other vehicle. Wheels is sent to prison. Caitlin discovers Joey’s infidelity and dumps him. Snake is a mess after witnessing the mass destruction that has befallen his friend group. No one is happy, and the viewers never see anyone again until The Next Generation...where their misery can continue.

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