We start off with the triumphant return of the Degrassi junior varsity boys’ soccer team to school after handily winning a game. Cheerleaders Paige and Manny get off the bus with Spinner blabbing about what a great game it was. Spinner, by the way, is absolutely filthy, meaning he either spent the game slide tackling or he lay down and went rolling in the dirt. Soon a tall, gangly and equally filthy fellow named, of all things, Sully, slips by them prompting Manny to run up and lamely tell him how great he played. Sully politely thanks her and goes off to talk to a tall, scantly clad girl in a 4-inch long aqua blue mini-skirt.
Turns out, Manny likes Sully, but Sully only likes tramps. Paige tells Manny that she can think of 10 guys she would be “adorable with.” “I don’t want to be adorable. Bunnies and puppies are adorable,” Manny shoots back. Paige tells her to change her image if she doesn’t want to be cute, “it’s as simple as that.” Manny thinks for a second, furrowing her brow and looking kind of cute. What’s a girl to do?
Cue spunky, uplifting theme music.
Sometime later we see socially conscious Emma walking to school with Manny, discussing plans for a new environmental club called S.I.T.E., or Students Improving The Environment. Apparently, unlike their American counterparts, Canadian youth aren’t resigned to the fact that their government will sell any and all natural resources to the highest campaign donor and resistance is futile. Emma says the club is her mission for the year, and will have letter-writing campaigns and endangered species week.
“Wanna hear my mission?” Manny asks, cutting her off. “I wanna be hot. Not cute. Not adorable. Hot.” She unzips her jacket to reveal a skimpy, light blue track outfit that would make J-Lo proud. It features a midriff-baring top with matching, tight-fitting pants and an optional jacket and hat. “There’s no way I’m getting dumped this year for being too young,” she states (referring to getting dumped by Craig in the episode “Take My Breath Away”). I wonder if I’m going to land in jail for watching this episode.
Shortly after Manny’s mini-striptease, class clown J.T. gets a view of her new and improved nakedness and starts staring at her in a slightly creepy way while skateboarding to school. But then he hits a curb and lands face down on the street. Ouch! It’s a warning to the teen viewing audience: hot girls can hurt you.
Cut to Craig and Marco leaving for school while hip, single dad/used car salesman Joey is leaving with daughter Angie. Joey is lifting the grounding punishment Craig received for skipping school last episode so he can start practicing with his band again. Joey offers up the garage as a practice space. Did you know Joey used to be in a band? It was called the Zits, they kicked ass. “Rock on dudes!” Joey shouts while pulling away.
Later, during science class, J.T. is sitting next to Manny while they watch a boring video on frogs. J.T., looking like the shaggy-haired awkward teen he is, starts some pretty smooth flirting wherein he tries to interpret the doodles on Manny’s notebook. Liberty, a total killjoy, tries to shush them, but things are going in J.T.’s favor until Ms. Hot and Saucy – a.k.a. their teacher, Ms. Hatzilakos – shushes them for good.
That evening at Joey and Craig’s place, Joey is cooking a little something special for his lady, Sydney. All the kids are home, and Craig is having band practice – very loud band practice – in the garage. Sydney is displeased because it’s ruining their romantic dinnertime. However, Joey can’t keep his mind on his woman while the garage is a rockin’, so he disses her to go check out the band.
In an alarmingly realistic scene, Craig, Marco and Jimmy are playing power chords on their guitars (no bass!) while Spinner is doing a shitty job keeping time on a crappy drum set. All the while Craig’s (cute) girlfriend Ashley is watching with a semi-bored/semi-amused expression. On a side note, Craig is wearing a sleeveless shirt, which I couldn’t help notice showed a bit of farmer’s tan. This was of great comfort to me and my perpetually white torso and golden tan forearms.
Joey chastises them for limiting themselves with three guitars and drums, then pulls out a cheap Casio keyboard(!) Hello!?!? Bass anyone? There is one sitting out right next to them! I’m sure the guys tried to get Jimmy to play the bass but he was too stuck up, and everyone agreed that Marco was too stylish for the rhythm section. Anyway, Joey plugs the keyboard in and starts to “jam” as the teens in the room roll their eyes. They try to play along while Old Man Joey jumps around like a spaz and sings off-key to his cheesy song.
Meanwhile, Emma and Manny are browsing the mall. Manny, still wearing the spunky track outfit, talks about how she liked the fact that J.T. was flirting with her, and it shows her new look is working. J.T. is cuter than last year, she says, but he’s still just J.T. Ouch. Manny decides her look is still too tame and she needs to kick it up a notch. Bam! An electric blue thong! With rhinestone studs! Perfect. Emma looks a bit shocked.
Cut to Manny’s ass in low-riding jeans as she walks down the hall at school. The blue thong is purposely visible while she wears another midriff bearing top. J.T. and Toby are walking around the corner talking about how J.T. is developing feelings for Manny, but concludes she hasn’t changed that much and is still the same old Manny. We then get a slow-mo cheesecake shot of newly sexed-up eighth grader Manuella walking down the hall. (I am clearly going to either hell or jail for watching this, I’m not sure which at this point.) She goes by J.T. who is briefly stunned and walks into a door. Ouch, hot girls really can hurt.
Next we see Manny, Killjoy Liberty and J.T. in class. J.T. is checking out Manny’s thong, and Killjoy doesn’t approve. They get into a whispering argument about how Killjoy can see Manny’s underpants. “Do you have so little confidence that you have to show your entire body?” she asks, which brings me to a point about this episode. You really can’t knock Manny for not having confidence here. Perhaps she wasn’t confident with being her cute old self and maybe that was something she needed to work on. Who knows? I’m not a shrink. But since then she has been strutting around in her trashy new clothes with a smile on her face and a gleam in her eye. She is the perfect example of confidence which, when you think about it, makes her stand out more than the clothes in this episode. Anyhoo… back in the classroom, Killjoy throws in one last barb about ratting her out to Principal Raditch while Manny looks annoyed.
The next scene has Manny and Emma handing out fliers for the environmental club meeting. “Are you sure it isn’t too much?” Manny asks Emma. “You look great, you know I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t true, and apparently J.T. agrees,” Emma says looking across the way where J.T. is once again shamelessly staring at Manny.
Killjoy walks up while they are talking about J.T. Killjoy, who has a secret thing for J.T., is clearly disappointed to learn that someone else may also like him. It probably doesn’t help that the other girl looks like a model out of Teen People while Killjoy looks like an uptight nerd. After some prodding from lovable sidekick Toby, J.T. goes over to Manny to work some of his tried and true flirting techniques. “Um, let me guess, I just interrupted a big talk aboot endangered platypuses.” Man, this kid is smooth. However, just like in science class, J.T.’s seductions are interrupted, this time by Sully, soccer star from scene one. He wows Manny by remembering her name (what a prick) and J.T.’s gentle words ring deaf in her ears.
Later, at the first meeting of Emma’s environmental club, the earnest whipper-snapper is yammering about sound environmental purchases or something. There is a hoard of people there, but they are all boys and, as usual, they’re all checking out Manny’s goods. She looks pleased to have half of Canada flirting with her when J.T. walks in with sidekick Toby. He looks happy to see Manny, but wait! Sully suddenly appears and starts flirting! Damn it all to hell! What’s that bastard doing here?
“Manny,” Sully asks in his smooth talking voice, “What’s that short for?”
“Manuella,” she replies with a dimple filled smile.
“Whoa…nice,” he says, looking like a total dork. Why are girls supposed to be interested in him again?
Emma continues to yammer about rainforests and toilet seats, looking annoyed at all the unenvironmental flirting going on.
Elsewhere, Joey swings by the TV station CQJH to get a video camera from old flame and fellow old school Degrassi alum Caitlin Ryan. (So THAT’S what she does! She works for a TV station!). He wants to tape Craig’s band and says “jamming” with them in the garage was just like the Zits all over again. He thinks the Zits could have done more if they only had guidance, something he can give to Craig’s band. Uh oh… looks like an adult just lost touch with reality. Caitlin warns him that he isn’t a teenager, and they are. Joey looks confused while the audience smells a train wreck coming.
The next scene has Joey taping the band in the garage, while Craig looks slightly horrified. The band still sucks. Joey stops them and says they need to work on their stage presence, it’s just as important as their sound. Speaking of their sound, Joey suggests they start off covering songs “like maybe some George Michael? Craig, I know you know the words to ‘Faith.'” Ahhh, nothing like being humiliated in front of the band. [I would cry if Craig sang “Faith.” Seriously, man. –willa]
Joey gets a phone call and steps out, and Craig and the boys waste no time in making fun of him. “He’s so deluded he thinks he’s in the band,” Craig whines. “He is embarrassing himself and he doesn’t even know it.” Cut to a shot of the video camera still taping. Uh-oh!
Back at school, we see Emma taking down a poster for the environmental club meeting when Eminem impersonator and sometime-boyfriend Sean shows up. He was helping the shop teacher and couldn’t make it. Emma is bitching about the flirty boys at the meeting that don’t care about the environment when Manny shows up. Sean gets a look at her, chuckles and leaves. Manny boasts about how many people came to the meeting, but Emma questions whether anyone will return. “Don’t worry, I’ll make them,” Manny says, confirming my suspicions that girls will start manipulating men within 24 hours of discovering their sexuality.
“So, what’s happening with J.T.?” Emma asks. “What do you like better, Manny or Manuella?” she says, ignoring Emma. “Sully likes Manuella. He says it’s…exotic. Manuella Santos. Oh yeah, did you say something?” she asks, finally acknowledging Emma. Biatch.
Before Emma can say anything, Principal Raditch shows up and gives Manny a talking to. Her outfit contravenes the school’s code of conduct. He’s had complaints (Killjoy) and expects her to show up tomorrow without her undergarments showing.
Back at Joey and Craig’s place, Joey reviews the footage of the band from earlier while Craig gets a drink. Oops, he fast-forwards too far and now the teenage boys are trash-talking him. Instead of Joey or Craig quickly turning it off to spare each other’s feelings, they just sit there and watch it. Craig looks nauseous, then makes a quick excuse and runs to his bedroom. Joey looks hurt. So this is what Caitlin warned him about!
The next day at school Manny is getting her books from her locker when Emma comes up. She seems sympathetic towards Manny because of the Raditch crackdown on slut-ware. However, Manny says it wasn’t such a bad thing and takes off her jacket revealing low low-riders with no underwear and a very small crop top. Manuella Santos: Now With 15% More Skin. Emma is shocked. Again.
“Do you want to get suspended?” she asks with bulging eyes.
“What? I’m not breaking any rules.”
“Manny, Mr. Raditch said…”
“He said ‘no visible underwear’ and do you see any underwear?”
“That’s right,” Manny says, getting close enough to kiss Emma and speaking in a low, breathy voice. “Because I’m not wearing any.” Then she walks away.
At this point I expect the police to kick in the door and haul me to jail.
Back in science class, Ms. Hatzilakos is lecturing about frogs and volunteers Manny to go to the front of the class to feed them. As she gets up there she accidentally drops the food on the floor and the whole class, including Killjoy, leans into the aisle to get a better look at her behind as she bends over. Right at the moment of butt crack revelation J.T. jumps up to stop her and feeds the frogs himself. Good old J.T. saves the day.
After class J.T. finally gets the balls to ask Manny out. But lurking in the background is that scoundrel, Sully. While J.T. is stammering about taking Manny to a movie Sully stands behind her, waves his hand and says “See this J.T.? Bye bye.” Suddenly J.T. bellows “Mother f-er! No one disrespects me like that!” punching Sully in the mouth, throwing him on the ground, then repeatedly kicking him in the ribs. Okay, that’s what he should have done, but instead he slinks away after Manny tells him she has other plans. This pisses Emma off, who drags Manny away from Sully and tells her she just broke J.T.’s heart.
“Emma, come on,” she says impatiently.
“You’re getting this huge ego!” Emma snaps back.
“No, I’m not. Just because I dress like…”
“You are dressing like an idiot,” Emma declares. “But what I really care aboot is how you are acting.”
They go on like this for a while longer, with Manny in full saucy latina, “No you don’t, girlfriend” mode until she finally accuses Emma of being jealous of her and Emma tells her to stick it up her underwear free ass (I’m paraphrasing here). “This is who I am now Em,” Manny shouts as Emma walks away. “And if you can’t accept that, then don’t talk to me.”
Back at Joey’s place, Craig is walking home with his guitar while Joey waits on the front porch. Craig explains that the band had practice in Marco’s basement and some awkward dialogue is exchanged. Craig stops at the door and apologizes for being such an a-hole about Joey trying to help the band. Joey says he should have known better and tells Craig about how he misses the feeling he had being in a high school garage band.
“They were good times,” he says. “Some of the best. Anything felt possible. Then one day I wake up and I’m in my 30s, I have a daughter and a teenage stepson and I’m thinking to myself ‘Whoa! When did this happen?'” Craig looks stunned by this information, either because he is learning insights into Joey’s life or because he now realizes that the soul-killing tedium of the real world is just around the corner for him as well. They decide that the band should move back into the garage, and Joey will stay out of their way. Huzzah! [I would like to state that there is no way Joey can be in his 30s. His class graduated a year before me, and I’m going to be 29 soon. But not 30, people. Stop fricken depressing me! – loki]
In the last scene of the show, Manny is sitting in the new, trendy café set looking out the window. Emma and J.T. walk by across the street giving her dirty looks. Emma looks angry, like she wants to hiss, and J.T. looks like an abused puppy, which makes Manny look a little concerned and sad. Scumbag Sully brings her drinks and asks if something is wrong. “No,” she says, “Everything is… just great.”