We’ve all watched our fair share of TV come under quarantine over the past few years. For me, I did light stuff. Six seasons of Gossip Girl244 episodes of Love Islandand review the first seven seasons of Degrassi: The Next Generation. Last month, HBO Max didn’t just buy it all back Degrassi catalog for streaming on their platform, but they also announced a reboot, news that I’m both excited and scared of.
Degrassi is the reason I am the woman I am today. That’s why I will never consider Drake a sex symbol (he will forever be Aubrey to me). That’s why I tried to turn Manny Santo’s catchphrase into “banana coocoo”. And that’s why I’m bored of dating.
In Part 2, Degrassi introduced a 9th grader named Craig Manning, played by Jake Epstein. Craig is tall, has curly hair, and is traumatized. I love him.
Season after season, Craig proves himself to be the world’s worst boyfriend. But instead of thinking that Craig’s girlfriend should leave him, I will support Craig to be better. Please, Craig, don’t date two women at once. Please, Craig, don’t choose cocaine over your girlfriend. Please, Craig, stop dating two women at once. No matter what Craig did, I couldn’t continue to be mad at him. I’ll be patiently waiting for Craig to become the boyfriend I know he can be.
Fast forward 15 years. For a while, that tough attitude when it came to men I should break up with was my relationship calling card. In fact, one lesson I’ve learned from my dating history is that if I dated him a year or two ago, Craig Manning would literally ruin my life. Through every twist marked by cheating, dishonesty, and outright malicious behavior, all it takes is a cheeky smile and a cute song, and I’m back on the damn web by Craig Manning. Do not believe me? Just ask my friends, my therapist, and the diary I just use whenever a guy I’m dating starts to love Craig Manning me.
I thank HBO Max for buying back Degrassi to realize this. My last month of work is back through a beloved series like Degrassi opened my eyes to the ways my favorite characters, even problematic, have affected how I feel and how I navigate dating. It’s a wild experience to revisit a series that was conceived later in life, when you’re older and (hopefully) wiser. Now I can see exactly how it looks Degrassi made its mark on me — good and bad.
But we all have Craig Manning, don’t we?
For some, it Gossip Girl’s Chuck Bass, socialite and lousy boyfriend confirmed. The others couldn’t be mad at Schmidt from new girl, with his over-the-top (read: boundary-shattering) behavior. I never watched Sopranos or Heirbut after consulting with some very trusted people, they assured me that figures like Chris Soprano and Kendall Roy fit the bill, too.
Even victimized bastards, like Bojack Horseman, have my sympathies. Bojack Horseman really turned the tables by clearly reminding us that even if someone feels bad, it doesn’t justify what they did. And that doesn’t mean we should forgive them. But damn it, I can’t help but feel bad for Bojack. And please forgive him. More and more.
I’m not Theresa’s mother. There is no way the reason I forgive men who have hurt me, others and themselves is because I am so kind and lovable. Instead, instead of dealing with the person, or completely removing myself from the situation, I try to work through the problem. I will try to fix them. The Craig Manning assortment is my ultimate kryptonite. I’m really going to go down the ship, in the hope that somehow I can make things better.
So how do we prevent this? We can always stop dating Craig. But believe me, it’s not always that easy. The heart tends to want what it wants. There’s something to be said about not accepting someone’s potential. Take them for what they are and don’t try to mold them into the fantasies you have created for them.
But at the same time, keeping a Craig in your life is a recipe for disaster. Craig or people like Craig are good people or not, but making bad decisions doesn’t matter to us. If someone had an affair with a 10th grader or blamed them for their coke addiction, you take to end everything.
Mine Degrassi the review experience made me think about alternatives, about shows that have given me a good role model for relationships. For me, I think of a show like Shameless. In spite of Shameless It’s also fraught with toxic relationships, over the course of 11 seasons I’ve seen a couple like Veronica and Kevin. Not only are the two super hot (which is very important), but they actually have a strong relationship, which we’ve found that they continue to grow and grow stronger, even when they have to. Face challenges along the way. Witnessing things like this made me realize that I don’t need to be in relationships with people like Craig, where the person I’m with is a source of conflict. Instead, I might try to be with someone with whom we can resolve conflicts together.
All this being said, even to this day, when I watch it again Degrassi, I still find myself liking Craig. Because even though the show was filmed over 20 years ago, I still feel like Craig will be different this time. Maybe it’s HBO’s high definition.
This is the silver lining. Most Craigs are not characters stagnate on TV screens. I (still) wholeheartedly believe in people’s ability to change. If you’re Craig Manning reading this right now, hear our pleas. For the love of God. Just better.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-degrassi-the-next-generation-made-me-the-woman-i-am-today?source=articles&via=rss The next generation made me the woman I am today