You wear sandals in the snow
And a smile that won’t wash away
Can you look out the window
Without your shadow getting in the way?
– “Building a Mystery,” Sarah McLachlan
As many viewers of Degrassi probably know, each episode takes its title from a song. Some weeks you have to dig deeper than others if you want to figure out the connection, and maybe I just listened to too much Sarah McLachlan in high school, but as soon as the episode ended, I knew which lines from “Building a Mystery” felt most relevant to me – and to the ever-cheerful Becky.
While Fiona runs around making sure everything is ready for the fundraiser, Jenna questions where the real Becky – the smile-that-won’t-wash-away Becky – is, as the one in front of her is fretful and glum, and what’s bringing her down.
“I feel so guilty lying to my parents about Adam,” Becky sighs. The dinner was a smashing success – in fact, her parents loved him – but hiding the fact that he’s trans from them is bothering her.
Over at Fiona and Drew’s apartment, Fiona wraps a bolt of fabric around Bianca as she discusses designing Bianca’s wedding dress. Fiona – understanding the attraction of a U-Haul wedding – is excited to help out, but Bianca doesn’t know if she can go through with it.
Drew, overhearing this, becomes upset, so Fiona leaves the two of them alone as Bianca explains her plan of talking to Mama Torres “woman to woman” in hopes of finding some common ground about the wedding.
Having decided to tell the truth to her parents, Becky begins: “Mom, Dad, there’s something I need to tell you. My boyfriend Adam is trans.”
“Trans?” Jenna responds. “Like, transient? Sweetheart,” she continues, channeling Becky’s mother for their practice round, “are you saying Adam’s homeless?”
“Homeless?” Adam – who was pretending to be Becky’s father – rounds on Jenna, unaware of this being Becky’s initial reaction when Jenna outed Adam to her. Becky insists this is serious, though, and would they please just stay in character? “Continue, Buttercup,” Adam says, proving a mastery of the Baker household dynamics.
Becky continues to explain to “her parents” what being trans means. “God doesn’t make mistakes,” she tells them. “He made Adam as he’s meant to be.”
“So, a girl?” Adam’s Reverend Baker clarifies, tripping Becky up, though Adam assures her she’s doing great. Becky takes a deep breath, and starts again.
“I care about Adam very much, that’s why I want to tell you the truth. But it doesn’t change anything. Adam’s a boy.” The camera pans out and oh, this last bit was to her actual parents. “Please, say something. Do you hate me?”
Her parents assure her that they don’t hate her. In fact, they want Becky to be happy, and they’re proud of her for telling them the truth.
When Adam shows up at Becky’s house afterward, she gushes to him that her parents are fine with everything! She leads him inside to discover her father, who just wants to have a “quick chat.” Not wasting any time, Reverend Baker slides a flyer about reparative therapy across the counter and promises to support Adam on his “path to healing.”
“I’m not gay, sir,” Adam tells Reverend Baker sharply. “I’m a guy. I don’t need to be repaired.”
“You’re confused,” Becky’s father counters, and he wants what’s best for his daughter. Furious, Adam snatches up his bag and walks out, Becky calling after him.
At the fundraising gala, Fiona welcomes people while Becky waits for Adam to appear.
She’s exhausted and still in disbelief that her parents tricked them in thinking they were accepting. Adam promises Becky that they’ll get through this together, before slipping off to join Whisperhug on stage (oh hey there, Imogen, I see you!).
During the performance, Bianca storms over to Fiona, furious at Drew’s mother for her disapproval of their engagement. Fiona reminds Bianca that she’s not who she used to be and points her in the direction of a U-Haul they could rent even earlier than their planned summer wedding date…
Becky spots her parents at the fundraiser and marches over, demanding to know what they’re doing there. She tells them she’s not budging; they can’t send her to a brainwashing camp.
Her parents assure her that they still want her to be happy, but there’s just no future with Adam. They suggest that dating Adam requires giving up her relationship with God because of what the Bible says about homosexuality, but Becky refuses to accept their assertion that Adam is anything other than a boy.
She marches off, half in tears, to lead the live auction for the airplane tickets, which Fiona wins on behalf of Bianca so that she and Drew can charter a flight for a quickie marriage in Vegas. As soon as Becky gets backstage, she breaks down.
Thrilled about the success of the fundraiser, Jenna hurries backstage only to realize Becky’s not crying for joy. Becky doesn’t want to talk, though, and insists they focus on finding the plane tickets that Fiona just won.
The tickets are in Adam’s bag, and in the process of looking for them, Becky accidentally sends a container of tampons tumbling across the table, which she stares at miserably.
When Adam and Becky run into each other in the hallway the next day, he asks how she’s holding up. “Not well,” she admits. In fact, she’s decided to accept her parents’ help. “I can’t choose you over my family, my faith,” she pleads for him to understand.
“It’s crap,” Adam retorts. “You don’t need to be fixed, you’re perfect.”
“I’m not, I’m confused,” Becky confesses. “You confused me. Therapy could work.” As she walks off in tears, Adam slams his locker shut, hard.
Becky’s right: choosing Adam does mean giving up certain aspects of the worldview in which she was raised.
She’s been the perfect daughter to her parents, and this is the first time we’ve see her break from them on anything important. It’s hard as hell to justify giving up all you’ve known for 16 years for someone you’ve hardly known for six months.
Becky may not have the self-confidence to resist her parents’ brainwashing, but she seems to know that Adam’s gender was never the problem. If it was, I imagine she’d have begged him to follow her, to sort out his confusion in therapy, too.
And that, to me, says everything about where Becky’s at. Adam is offering her a different worldview, not a different sexuality, but when she looks out the window upon that newfound worldview, she still sees it through the shadow of the ideology in which she grew up. Becky’s caught between two ideologies, not two sexual identities, and what makes that so confusing to her is that she doesn’t see the difference yet. She accepts her parents’ help because she knows that something is confusing, but she doesn’t know what.
As much as I have wanted the storyline of Adam finally getting the girl, Sarah Fisher was tremendous this week as a Becky grappling with how her identity – a perfect daughter of a conservative, religious family – is changing in the wake of accepting and loving Adam.
Can Becky look out the window without her shadow getting in her way? Not yet, but I, for one, will be here hoping that someday she’ll be able to.