Film and TV

Degrassi: Next Class Recap: C'mon Get App-y

Every week, we're recapping season two of Degrassi: Next Class. Now, who do we have to pay to make the Brown Cloud app a real thing?

The Degrassi students have had a rough time these first few episodes of the season. Racism, mental illness, break-ups ... and that was just the first two episodes. Since it's been pretty heavy, let's start on the lighter side first. 

Recently reunited Miles and Tristian are paired up in their home economics class, assigned to take care of — you guessed it — a robot baby. This scenario is high on the list of top 10 most overused teen show tropes. Seriously, is this still a thing that happens in schools? Moreover, the whole thing was used as a metaphor for the Miles/Tristan (Milstan? Trisles?) relationship. That is to say, their yet-to-be-defined relationship ... this season, at least. 

These two have been on quite the ride since they first got together, and let's face it, a lot of that has been on Miles. He grappled with coming out, dated a few someone-elses, and threatened to go off to boarding school — twice. Tristan has been one of his only constants: as a friend, boyfriend, and sometimes enemy. These two can't quit each other. For that reason, Tristan is treading lightly this go-round. Zoë, in a moment of uncharacteristic wisdom, points out that if he's terrified that any pressure will scare him away, how good of a team are they?

Ambiguity aside, they have a robot baby to raise. They start their assignment as equals, with Tristan holding the baby while Miles gets a diaper bag. Later though, Tristan goes to pass off little MJ (Miles Jr., obviously) for the night to his partner. Miles gives him a dopey look and grumbles about needing to study for a test. A flustered Tristan offers to take on the load a little longer, so Miles can focus on his biology exam without any pressure. See what they did there? 

The next morning, at a student council meeting, President Tristan is a hot mess. Robot baby kept him up all night crying and now he can't focus on anything. Miles' bestie Winston hammers down the point that Zoë had tried to make: Miles is not big on commitment. This finally flips a switch in Tristan, who marches down to the basketball court to confront him. He tells Miles that he's not asking to get married, he's just asking for help with this project. "I'm going to need you to unpack some of that," replied Miles. Whoa, dude. Yikes. This makes a tired Tristan even more flustered and he drops Robot Baby on the ground. It's then that he puts all his cards on the table: This isn't just a dumb toy, it's a symbol of our relationship. If he steps up, it's proof that he won't do what he's done before. This finally wakes Miles up, and he agrees to take the baby for the night. 

The next day, they're back in class for grading day. Tristan sees that Miles is dutifully taking care of MJ, but is still worried because of the whole baby-dropping incident. The teacher comes around and drops a very vague, "great job guys, you got an A." That's how you teach kids about responsibility? When Tristan seems surprised that one night with Miles would right his wrong, Miles admits that he had his tech nerd brother Hunter do a hard reset. Now that's a metaphor you can take to the bank. It either means that they can start with a clean slate, or it means that Miles took the easy way out. Regardless, he assures Tris that while he isn't good at planning, he's also not going anywhere. This seals the deal, and this on again/off again relationship is officially back on. 

Yael gets her own standalone arc, which was a nice change from her being referred to as more of a figment of Hunter's obsession in the last episode. Turns out, she's even more of a tech genius than she's even been given credit for. As part of an assignment, she's turned in a new app called Degrassi Secrets. As archaic as a home ec class sounds, it's even more mind-blowing that a school would have app building in their curriculum. That doesn't seem like an "every student" kind of skill, but in a world where kids are basically born with iPads in their hands, maybe it is. 

Degrassi Secrets allows students to post their innermost thoughts, while other students are able to show they relate with a "me too" upvote. It's a sincere, albeit naive, idea, in hopes to make students feel less alone. Meanwhile, her classmates Vijay and Baaz have created something less lofty, called Brown Cloud. It syncs to your contact list, where you're able to trigger a variety of fart noises to their phone. Seriously, they bragged about recording each fart in lossless flac files. We don't really want to know exactly how that worked. This sends Yael into a tailspin, where she accuses the duo of a lame UI and other nerdy stuff, to which they counter that sometimes, people just want to laugh.

They wager a bet on who will win most downloads. If the boys win, Yael has to go on a date with Baaz. If Yael wins, they need to donate a million dollars to her favorite fair-trade initiatives. Maybe that was sarcastic, but Baaz also seemed to not bat an eye so, who knows? As time passes, so do the gasses of Brown Cloud. They've garnered 80 downloads to Degrassi Secrets' 2. When Yael vents to Hunter about it, he points out that after some time in a mental hospital reading gossip rags, he's realized that scandal sells. She scoffs at the idea at first, unwilling to compromise the whole idea behind her app. However, being a woman in tech is hard enough, she can't just stand back and be squashed. She plants her own "secret" on the app, a fake story about a Grade 11 boy cheating on his girlfriend. 

This causes a chain reaction of gossip, and the app jumps to over 4,000 downloads overnight. The boys cry foul immediately, claiming at first she must have hacked into the tracker, but settling on the fact that she just turned her app into Degrassi TMZ. She claims that the students will eventually use the app as it was intended, to which Baaz insists they absolutely will not. "Have you met people?" Fair point, sir. After hearing a plea from a shamed Frankie (more on that later) she takes the app down. The boys win, but but she admits that she agrees that people are indeed the worst, but that doesn't mean she has to join them. 

Frankie, Frankie, Frankie. Last episode, she was faced with Shay's revelation that the Northern Tech volleyball team would continue to put the Degrassi team on blast for their racist prank unless the mastermind steps down. That was, of course, Frankie, who not only led the idea, but drew the gorilla that caused the most uproar for its lack of couth. The episode ended with her looking as if she agreed, but this episode kicked off with her very much not ready to step down. 

Her idea: hold a #letstalkaboutrace rally after school with both teams to start a "chill discussion" to fix things and, of course, prove she's not racist. Fun drinking game? Watch this episode and take a shot every time she says, "I'm not racist!" Shay is skeptical, because while she doesn't want Frankie to quit, she doesn't see a way out of this either. She knows that there's much more to do than talk, but goes along with the plan anyway. 

While getting ready for the event, she's blowing up balloons with her boyfriend Jonah, talking about how they're going to "pop stereotypes." (UGH.) Even though he had encouraged the prank in the first place, he reminds her that racism runs deep to which she responds, "I don't get why race is such a big deal." (DOUBLE UGH.) Met with Jonah's critical glare, she backpedals, insisting that bottom line, people shouldn't be treated differently because deep down, we're all the same. 

At the rally, she expands on this idea, asking the students to separate into groups by blood type. Do most high school kids know these things? There's probably an app for that. Once divided, she points out that even categorized by blood type, we all look the same. The color of our skin is meaningless, so race doesn't matter. (TRIPLE UGH.) The Northern Tech captain fires back that her race matters to her, but is cut off by Frankie asking to be allowed to finish her thought that we all evolved from monkeys, so we're family. (QUADRUPLE UGH.) Northern Tech is talking to a brick wall, and Frankie is tired of being made the villain, so they both part with the issue unresolved. 

Later at lunch, Frankie slams her tray down, scolding Shay for not having her back. She feels discriminated against as a white person, like reverse racism. Goldi explains that reverse racism is not a thing, but white privilege is. It's clear that Frankie has never experienced anything like this before, but there's still time to come to an understanding. Frankie decides to meet up with Northern Tech once and for all at The Dot. She sits down and explains that she can be kind of a bulldozer and that she was sorry that they felt offended. Boy, did she bulldoze through the rest of that conversation, too. "It's not how I meant it, so I'm clearly not racist, right?" she rambled. "Will you please tell everyone that I'm not racist? I have to run, but coffee is on me. Thanks for listening, I think we finally understand each other." She walks outside with a satisfied look on her face.

In all of her sorry, not sorry-ing, she failed to take notice of the girl that was filming the whole thing and later posted it online. Her teammates confront her outside the bus before leaving for their match, telling her that although they thought she was just a person who made a mistake, after watching the video, they're pretty sure she's actually a straight up racist. They unanimously vote to leave her behind, and we're left with yet another doe-eyed close up of a girl who has officially gone over the edge. 

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Ashley Harris is a longtime professional fangirl. You can usually find her out at concerts, movies, and live theatre, or glued to the latest Netflix revival.
Contact: Ashley Harris