The Degrassi episode “Take On Me” isn’t just inspired by The Breakfast Club, it’s a thirty-minute remake of it, with a slight romantic twist. The cast of characters is as follows:
Jimmy: Andrew (Emilio Estevez)
Hazel: Claire (Molly Ringwald)
Ellie: Allison (Ally Sheedy)
Sean: John (Judd Nelson)
Toby: Brian (Anthony Michael Hall)
Radditch: Principal Vernon (Paul Gleason)
Ellie arrives at the school all decked out in black and plaid, with a little pink thrown in for femininity’s sake. She’s got on a black leather dog collar, a silver chain with spikes, and a heavy black leather jacket. She pauses in the parking lot and begins snapping at a rubber band around her wrist.
The camera pans down a long hall, so that we can see into the detention room. Radditch is walking toward it in cool-guy wear: slacks, black button-down shirt with a hint of white t-shirt at the neck, casual sports jacket and sunglasses. He stops to look at himself in the doorway of a classroom, and fluffs his hair. “Good morning students,” he says. “Glad you could all make it on a beautiful Saturday morning. Then again, it’s not like you had much choice. Welcome to detention.” While he’s saying this, he removes his clip-on sunglasses, which totally ruins the hip vibe he has going on.
He proceeds to list the rules. No talking, no getting up, no chewing gum, no feet on the chairs, no eating until I say so, blah blah blah this is a time for you to think about all the bad things you’ve done. He says that he is “all eyes and all ears” and walks out of the room. Sean burps obnoxiously. Classy.
You know, in the credits, when Marco puts up the collar on his jean jacket and does that little jump turn so that the logo can pop up on his back? It’s the gayest thing Marco has done this entire series, to date.
Sean is slamming a rubber ball against the wall, over a piece of school-sanctioned graffiti bearing the Degrassi name. The ball makes a loud thwack, thwack. Ellie, Hazel, Jimmy and Toby look up from their notebooks and glare at Sean. Jimmy wants Sean to stop being an idiot. Sean says that he missed the part where Jimmy became Radditch. He throws the ball up to the ceiling, and it knocks a tile down onto the table in front of Ellie. It falls onto her bag. She’s pissed. To his credit, Sean rushes over to make sure nothing’s broken. Ellie snatches the bag away and looks inside at something, then clutches it to her chest. All the students look up at the gaping hole in the ceiling.
Meanwhile, Radditch is strutting through the halls, executing neat little boyband moves. He gets a drink from the water fountain and struts off.
The clock says 9:31. Sean is standing on a table, holding Toby up by the legs. Toby is trying to put the ceiling tile back in place. Jimmy is trying to steady them with his hands on Sean’s back and legs. You know, a slash writer could totally use this entire scene as an opening to put Sean and Jimmy together. Not that anyone would ever do that. Hazel is giving them instructions – left, the other left, more to the left – while the boys totter precariously. Sean tells Hazel she can do it herself, and calls her “princess.” Jimmy tells him to shut up. Toby is getting nervous, and announces that he’s afraid of heights. The three boys flail around some more until the tile goes back into place. Ashes, ashes, they all fall down. Jimmy lands on top of Sean. (He does! I’m not making that up.)
The girls are amused by the heap o’ boys on the floor. Hazel wants to make sure everyone is okay, but Ellie only has eyes for Sean. The Degrassi Music of Impending Love (MoIL) plays as she offers him a hand up. They stare at each other until Sean goes all tough guy, and roughly straightens up his usual outfit of gray hooded sweatshirt and black knit hat. The music continues to play until Radditch interrupts the fun. He sends the boys to the corners and tells Ellie and Hazel to stay in the middle of the room.
Ellie’s keeping close time in her notebook with a hot pink pen. 8:59 – Detention starts; 9:03 – S steals milk; 9:10 – Detention continues. Sean pulls out his keys and slides them back and forth on the table. Hazel looks longingly at the clock, which now reads 10:04. She hopes out loud that the clock is wrong, and earns an irritated look from Sean. She tells him that she has a social engagement. He theorizes that Paige needs Hazel to lick her boots before she goes out. Hazel is not amused. Once again, Jimmy rushes to her rescue.
Sean wants to know how “Miss Conformity” ended up in detention. He calls Hazel Jimmy’s girlfriend. Sean is proud to announce that he’ll be in detention for eight solid weeks for antisocial behavior. Which is, I’m guessing, code for “because I stole a lot of stuff.” Hazel insists she’s not Jimmy’s girlfriend. Ellie pipes up that she’s there for skipping class. Everyone looks at her like “big whoop.” She says, “What? I didn’t feel like going.” Jimmy thinks that is a lame story. Sean doesn’t think Jimmy’s will be any better. Randomly, this whole boys-sticking-up-for-the-girls thing is kind of anti-girl power.
We all know why Jimmy’s in detention. He and Toby orchestrated a little grade-changing scheme last episode and got caught. Jimmy tries to pretend like it’s all Toby’s fault. They snark at each other a bit. Jimmy is wearing a Triple 5 Soul hoodie. I hope his parents own stock in that company. No one cares about Jimmy and Toby’s issues. Sean wants to know about Hazel. Toby postulates that her shoes didn’t match her purse. Ha! Annoyed, Hazel grabs the bathroom pass and takes a walk. Sean almost looks proud of himself for scaring her off, but he’s distracted by Ellie flicking the band on her wrist. The MoIL plays as he stares at her.
What happens next is very disturbing. It is almost too disturbing to describe here, but I know you folks like details. Radditch is in the gym working out with a big green exercise ball. He’s wearing black bicycle shorts with a yellow racing stripe, and a small red tank top. When we enter the scene, his top has ridden up so that we see his big, round, hairy belly. I stress that this is not funny. It’s gross. I might never erase the image from my brain. There is a disco song playing loudly. He puts the ball between his legs and raises and lowers it. And. Okay. Let’s just say that he prances around with the ball for 23 seconds until Hazel walks in and laughs. Radditch rambles something about “a Swiss ball. From Switzerland.” Hazel looks far less horrified than she should as she walks off.
The detention kids are lounging around on the tables. Toby is making paper airplanes. Jimmy asks Hazel to do the Radditch impression again. Sean rolls over onto his back and mimes raising and lowering the exercise ball with his arms. It’s a Swiss ball! Hazel says that she’s bored of doing the impression. In fact, she’s bored of sitting in that room. Ellie proposes a game of truth and dare. Sean, Jimmy and Ellie all say “truth.” Hazel hesitates, and then says “truth,” too. Ellie immediately asks her why she’s in detention. That changes her mind, and she asks for a dare. I guarantee you that whatever has landed Hazel in detention is not interesting enough for her to hide it all this time.
Jimmy dares Hazel to kiss Toby. Toby, who’s been napping on his desk, snaps to attention. Sean loves this dare. He adds that she has to kiss him on the lips, like she means it. It’s no big thing to Hazel. She sashays over to Toby with a sultry look on her face. The other kids clap in time with the porn-like version of the Degrassi theme that suddenly begins to play. She sits on his lap, grabs his face in her hands, and plants one on him. Sean and Ellie express amazement at the sauciness of the kiss. When Hazel’s done, she wipes Toby’s lip off with her thumb and slaps him on the shoulder. She asks if everyone is satisfied. To no one’s surprise, Toby says “yeah.”
Hey! It’s Snake! I had absolutely no idea that he was going to be in this episode. Snake! His head is still shaved, but he looks healthier than last time we saw him. He grabs some files out of the back of his car and says, to no one, “Welcome back, Simpson.” Aw, Snake. How I’ve missed you.
It’s 11:20. Toby is playing basketball with the trashcan. He makes a basket and says, in a creepy stalker voice, “He scores! He scores. Again, that is…” As he says this, he leans across the table where Hazel is sitting. Ew. He can’t wait to tell JT about what happened. He’ll be so jealous. Hazel says that’s too bad, because Toby isn’t going to tell anyone. Sean doesn’t get it. It’s just a stupid dare. Jimmy spells it out for him – Hazel is too embarrassed to have anyone know that she macked on a total geek. Even as a joke. “Nice behavior. Very evolved,” Sean says. Hazel points out that she doesn’t make the rules. “No, Sean tells her, “You just follow them.” Ooh. Burn.
Sean advances on Hazel, bouncing his rubber ball. She doesn’t even have the balls (does that count as a pun?) to tell the rest of the kids why she’s in detention. Leave her alone, says Jimmy. Shut up, Jimmy, says Sean. He gets right in Hazel’s face and makes another comment about Paige pulling Hazel’s puppet strings. It’s nice to see that someone is calling out the inequality in that friendship. Hazel furrows her brow. Paige can’t make her do anything. “Whatever,” Sean and I say at the same time. Frustrated, Hazel stands up and yells that she got caught surfing porn. Well, okay then. She explains that she got some spam in her email, and she was curious. I bet it was boy on boy porn. I can totally see Hazel being all about the slash. Everyone laughs. The ice is broken! Strike up the fun music!
It’s straight up noon. The fun music is cranked up to ten. Jimmy has removed his hoodie to display a Triple 5 Soul t-shirt. Glad to know he’s consistent. Sean has removed his own hoodie, to show off his arms in a wifebeater. He’s also removed his hat, and his hair is all short and tossled. I would be seriously remiss if I didn’t point out that Sean is pretty hot here. Someone has taped cafeteria trays to Toby’s shins and one forearm. He has a bowl on his head. The other boys are throwing and kicking Sean’s rubber ball at him. I’m pretty sure he’s supposed to be a goalie. I’m also pretty sure that it’s supposed to look like the boys are all playing nice, but mostly it looks like Sean and Jimmy are beating the crap out of Toby. Hazel and Ellie watch silently like good girls do. Hazel is doing her nails. She’s such a rule breaker. Ellie’s making more notes.
Enter Snake, just as Toby goes down in a noisy blaze of glory. He wants to know what’s going on. Jimmy explains that it’s Saturday detention. Snake takes in the mess with an amused, “oh.” Hazel and I both want to know if Snake is there because he’s feeling better. For the moment. He’s done with chemo, and was getting antsy at home. He decided it was time to get back to work. Yay! Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Snake says that he missed all of them. He covers his eyes as if to say that he never saw anything, and he leaves them alone.
Toby’s ready for more abuse, but Sean is bored. He heads over to join Ellie, and Hazel takes his place in the game. There is a strange moment where we watch Ellie give Sean part of her sandwich, while the other kids are all off camera making having-fun noises. I can picture them all sitting off to the side of the set, perfectly still, yet saying things like, “Oh! I got you! Ha ha ha! This is so fun! Woo!”
Sean – still all tossled and hot – asks Ellie what’s up with the elastic bands. He also takes a huge boy-bite out of the sandwich she gave him. She doesn’t answer him at first. Sean says that she doesn’t have to tell him, but he didn’t think she was hiding “it.” She says that it’s a therapy technique, to stop her from “you know.” She assumes everyone knows about her cutting. Sean says everyone knows about the rumors, which Ellie thinks are probably even better than the truth. He wants to know why she cuts. Is he going to scare it out of her, like he did with Hazel? Nope. He takes another big bite.
She tells him it’s the only pain she could control. Sean says that it makes perfect sense to him. Ellie is stunned. No one has ever said that to her before. She points out that people talk about Sean, too. “Why, because stuff gets stolen?” Ellie says it’s all talk though, right? Sean doesn’t know anything? Sean says he does, in fact, know what’s going on. Because he’s stealing. Ellie is not shocked.
Radditch walks in just as Jimmy rams into Toby with a broomstick, knocking him down again. Hazel retaliates by dumping a bunch of forks on Jimmy’s head. Do these kids not know they’re going to get busted? Ellie reaches into her bag and turns off a tape recorder.
After the commercial break, Ellie is sitting alone in a room. She’s playing Sean’s confession over and over on the tape recorder. To her credit, she looks slightly conflicted about spying on him. Apparently, she makes a decision about something, which spurs her to action. She changes out the tape, puts all her stuff in the bag, and heads out of the room.
Hazel’s also sitting alone. She’s singing a song to herself as she does homework. Ellie barges in. She can’t sit in a room by herself for the next three hours. Screw Radditch. She doesn’t care if he wants them separated. Hazel tells her that she’s cool.
The fun music is playing again. Everyone is walking down the hall together, minus Sean. Jimmy doesn’t think they need to get him. Ellie says that no one gets left behind. They burst in on Sean. He’s lounging with his feet up on the desk. The hat and hoodie are back in place, but the hoodie is slipping off his shoulder in a way that would be sexy if he were a girl. Hazel tells him that they’re “taking a walk.” Jimmy goads him, calling him a chicken. Sean doesn’t do group activities, see. He doesn’t need to play nice. Jimmy tells him he should tell Crazy Jay that the next time they decide to steal something. What if Ellie wants him to go, Hazel asks. Sean puts down his pen and follows them into the hall.
Ah, the bonding montage. Faux punk music plays. The five kids skip through the halls in single file, each of them showing a different attitude. At one point, they start a conga line. They are all jogging in unison when they come to a halt outside a freight elevator. Ellie says she didn’t know they had one. Jimmy didn’t even know they had a basement, clueing us into the fact that they are, you know, in the basement. Ellie summons the elevator, which is locked with a padlock. Toby sees that as a sign that they shouldn’t go any farther. Sean, Ellie and Hazel start making horror-movie noises to freak him out. Jimmy goes through a door marked “Custodial use only” and emerges with a ring of keys.
The elevator deposits them in a tiny room with concrete-block walls. It appears to hold only a metal ladder, mounted on the wall. Sean and Jimmy immediately start to climb. Sean opens a heavy metal door onto the roof. Meanwhile, Toby is still grousing about this whole thing being a bad idea. Hazel tells him to stop whining and climb. Sean helps Ellie onto the roof. She helpfully says, “Wow. We’re on the roof.” Toby heads up the ladder but balks at the top. He reminds them that he’s scared of heights. They all scatter and leave him to crawl out onto the roof alone. There are standing puddles of water everywhere, and Toby looks pretty sad on his knees.
Jimmy and Hazel head in one direction, Sean and Ellie head in another. Hazel wonders if they are the only kids to ever come up here. Jimmy doesn’t think so; something has caught his eye. It’s a gold heart necklace. Hazel thinks it’s pretty and that Jimmy should keep it. Without even wiping it off, he offers it to her and fastens it around her neck. He says it would look a lot better on her. She thanks him for standing up to Sean on her behalf that morning. Jimmy takes that as an invitation to kiss her. It is sweet, a little hot, and very natural. “Wow, what was that for?” Hazel asks. Jimmy laughs and says that it was because he made her kiss Toby.
Ellie wasn’t expecting there to be so much space on the roof. She sits down on a pipe next to Sean and pulls her bag into her lap. He points out that she carries it with her everywhere. She blows him off, saying that it’s a psycho girl thing – emphasis on the psycho. He tells her that he thinks she’s cute. She blushes, and starts snapping her rubber band. Sean thinks that it means he got to her. Dream on.
Sean falls backward on the rock and tar roof, and Ellie eases down next to him. He watches her. She doesn’t seem scared of him, and he doesn’t seem freaked by her. They revel in this fact for just a moment, before Ellie decides to push it a little farther. She pulls up the sleeve of her shirt and reveals several long, scabby scars. She wants to know if Sean is freaked out by her now. He runs his fingers over her cuts and continues down her arm until he can link their fingers together. They hold hands while Sean looks up at the sky, and Ellie looks at Sean.
Meanwhile, all alone, Toby is inching closer to the edge of the building. Just before he reaches the edge, he drops to his belly and looks over. He is directly over a basketball net. Grabbing a pebble from the roof, he drops it through the hoop, smiling as he measures with his eyes the distance it falls. It’s obvious that he is overcoming his fear of heights. Just as he’s feeling really proud of himself, Snake and Radditch come out of the building.
Snake is glad that he’s coming back next week. Radditch says that they’ve been having all sorts of behavioral problems with the students, big crackdown going on, and that he’ll fill Snake in when he comes in on Monday. Saturday detention is part of the big crackdown. Radditch believes in zero tolerance. He thinks they need to control the kids. Snake disagrees. Educate, yes. Discipline, sure. Control, no. He doesn’t think any of the kids have done anything bad enough to be treated this way. “This is the first Saturday in months I haven’t felt like dying, Dan, and life is way too short.” Radditch thinks about what he’s said as Snake drives off. Toby, watching them from the roof, catches Radditch’s eye. He ducks, but Radditch is on to them. Toby runs to the ladder, alerting the others.
Everyone run, run, runs to get back to their individual rooms. It is inter-cut with scenes of Radditch walking through the halls. This exact same scene occurs in The Breakfast Club. When Sean gets to his room, he finds that the door is locked. He calls to Jimmy, who has the keys. The two struggle to find the right key. When it looks like they won’t make it in time, Sean tells Jimmy to leave him. Jimmy refuses. They get the door open with just enough time for Jimmy to get to his own room. But not before he drops the keys in the hall. Radditch steps on them as he’s going to check on each of the rooms.
Back in the main detention room. Radditch just wants to know who stole the keys. No one is talking. He threatens to give everyone Saturday detention for the next three weeks and walks off in a huff. Remembering poor, almost-dead Snake, he turns back and tells them that he’s just trying to do the right thing, and he needs their help. Jimmy starts to confess, but Toby interrupts. He did it. He took the keys. He’s only confessing out of some misplaced guilt for getting Jimmy busted in the grade-fixing scheme, but it’s a nice gesture. Radditch says that he’s disappointed in Toby, but that he appreciates the honestly. He tells all the kids to go home and enjoy their weekend. Detention’s over.
Jimmy calls Toby cool, and they share a manly handshake. Hazel says they should have a group hug. Ellie has an instant camera in her bag somewhere, and in her haste, she knocks the bag to the floor. It triggers her tape recorder, which is cued up to the conversation she and Sean had on the roof. Sean is furious. He grabs the bag and extracts the tape recorder. Jimmy asks why she’s taping them. Ellie explains that it’s for a TV piece for her co-op, but she wasn’t going to use any names.
Toby thinks the piece is about them being in detention, and storms out of the room in a silly huff. Sean knows the truth, though. Ellie was going to write about the thefts going on at Degrassi. Hazel retracts her statement that Ellie is cool. Sean removes the tape while Ellie’s eyes fill with tears. He throws it to the floor and smashes it until his heel. She snaps at the rubber band.
It’s Monday at school. Hazel and Jimmy are walking through the hall together, acting like the couple they now are. They walk by and say hello to Toby, who is standing with JT. JT wants to know what happened in detention. Wouldn’t you like to know? Sean passes by the happy couple (Hazel and Jimmy, not Toby and JT). Jimmy calls out a greeting, and Sean says, “It’s good to see you.” See? Detention brings everyone together!
Ellie is waiting for Sean at his locker. He moves her out of the way and pretends she’s not there. She wants what happened between them on the roof to be the real truth. Whatever that means. She hands him a tape, and tells him that it’s the one he wants to smash. She’s not going to do the story. He throws it into the locker and continues to ignore her. She sighs and sulks off. He calls after her. “So I don’t freak you out, either?” Suddenly, he’s the adorable, shy Sean he was when he first started dating Emma. She tells him that he doesn’t freak her out at all. He reaches for her hand and looks at her in a smushy way. Ellie smiles, with teeth.