Welcome back to a new year of classes and cat fights. It’s been a quiet autumn without watching our favorite students of Degrassi: Next Class going through a semester of drama. (Not the class, but actual drama!) Now with 2017 just starting, a new season has made its way to our Netflix screens. And after ending with the unexpected bus crash cliffhanger last season, it could not get here sooner.
Degrassi: Next Class Season 3 takes place at the start of the new school year; it’s roughly three months since the end of the second season. To sum up the big changes (in Degrassi time):
- Everyone survived the bus crash, but Tristan is still in a coma.
- Zig and Esme have started a relationship.
- Yael and Hunter have started a relationship.
- Zoe is the new student council president (since Tristan is in a coma).
- The school is welcoming students from Syria.
- Lola dyed her hair blue and Shay grew out her hair.
The TV show took an interesting direction to fast-forward everything since the events of the bus crash. It didn’t pick-up the events right after the crash; the lives of these characters kept moving on. The safe bet would’ve been to keep major developments steady until a new season premiered; that didn’t happen.
Sometimes fast-forwards can be a bad gimmick that forces a show two-to-five years into the future when they no longer have plots for their characters. (I’m looking at you, Desperate Housewives!) While three months doesn’t seem that big of a jump, it felt like the right amount. It’s a new year, new students with new priorities – this group needed to jump right back in.
Out of all the storylines with the cast members, I think those who had the theme of “life and death” pulled me in the most. These plot points felt the most serious, and it showed the true thoughts of these characters. Lola deciding whether to have an abortion (and the different responses from her friends like Frankie and Shay vs. Yael) and Grace deciding whether to have a surgery that could extend or end her life served to contrast some of the “tough decisions” a teen would be thinking at that time in their lives.
Most people would be focusing on university applications, school sports or dating issues, but these two were deciding on something that may have been the biggest decision they would ever make. It was tough, but I’m glad the writers showed the characters having genuine internal conflict – it wasn’t easy for Lola or Grace to make a decision and then simply walk away; they had reflections right to the end and after.
I am surprised, however, with how Miles’ and Maya’s situations were handled by the characters – both with themselves and from surrounding people. Miles is clearly going through heartbreak while his boyfriend is in a coma, but everyone keeps telling him to move on and stop talking about it. THEY can’t handle the grief anymore, not him; he needs support and yet nobody cares. However, when he starts to focus on his life again and finds support from Lola (notwithstanding their fling, which happened near the end), everyone throws it back in his face and demands he should be focusing on Tristan. It’s a tad hypocritical and doesn’t help his situation.
Maya, on the other hand, is a roller coaster. (I can already feel your eye rolls…) While I may have been critical about Maya’s storyline in Season 1 and Season 2, this is the first time she’s been suffering from real emotional issues. She has the signs of going through depression, but not a single person notices until it gets worse.
And her so called friends don’t even try to help her. After seeing Maya’s mock suicide photos, her “best friend” Grace blocks her number – take this in: BLOCKS HER! Sure, Grace was going through a serious issue as well, but if someone shows you morbid death photos, a caring friend would drop the drama.
I’m glad her parents and school advisors stepped in after noticing issues and seeing the photos (possibly from Grace). Kudos to the writers for throwing this scene in; we sometimes don’t have the courage to ask for help, or ask people if they need help, during a serious moment. Looking back, even though my issue was different than Maya’s, I wish I had the courage to say something in high school or have a teacher/guidance councilor come talk to me (they definitely noticed what was going on). Having these scenes do help give support.
I hope in Season 4 she is stronger and finds happiness, same with the others. In Maya’s case, these are not her friends. She does not need people in her life who are “sad” one minute and then happy to get a pizza after they hear she’ll survive the suicide attempt. She can do better.
In regards to the other characters, Degrassi: Next Class Season 3 has fixed the issues from the first two seasons. I feel like I’ve gotten to know more about the once-background characters. Esme, Goldi, Baaz, Yael, and new girl Rasha – they don’t feel like strangers. I am so happy to get more depth into Esme’s and Goldi’s character history; it’s taken two seasons to get to this point. And that moment of Goldi walking down the hall with her hair exposed MUST go down as one of the most impactful/shocking/heartbreaking moments in Degrassi history.
However, there are still areas that need some work. Vijay still feels like a one-note character and we barely touched on new boy Saad. But I hope they get fleshed out more in the fourth season. The same can be said for the cast members to interact with people outside of their friend groups and grades. It started happening this season with people like Yael/Lola becoming friends, but we need more of this. Also, we need some freshman and sophomore students to join the show. With no new younger cast members, could this mean the end is near? The fourth season is looking like the graduation for the seniors…
Degrassi: Next Class Season 3 took a big step by focusing on their character development – and it paid off. The conversations felt genuinely, and the issues tackled once again felt timely. There’s still some more work to be done, like fixing the visuals on the opening theme (it felt slower by comparison) and toning down the melodrama from certain characters (Frankie!). However, I’m excited for what’s to come and what’s in store for next season.
Season 3 Rating: 8/10
Degrassi: Next Class is now streaming its third season on Netflix.