A “Degrassi” Season 11 Primer

You know what’s a crazy idea? Airing four episodes of your TV show a week for seven weeks and daring me not to call it a soap opera.

OK, fine, no one actually dared me not to call it that, and since the Degrassi press release itself refers to the coming weeks as “telenovela-style,” I suppose we’re at least somewhat out of crazy-town territory. Regardless, I’ll be along for the ride, and I hope you’ll join me!

Hot on the heels of its 2011 Emmy nomination for last season’s Adam-centric “My Body Is a Cage: Part 2” (the same episode that won a Peabody Award this spring), Degrassi returns with Season 11, tonight at 9 p.m.. This special hour-long premiere will include extras, such as exclusive interviews with cast members and a peek behind-the-scenes. New episodes will continue to air (on TeenNick in the U.S. and MuchMusic in Canada) Monday thru Thursday at 9 p.m., from now until September 1.

If you’re already a fan, then probably all I need to tell you is that tonight’s premiere features Fiona meeting “a gorgeous figure model at Holly J’s art class.” Sold? I thought so.

If you’re new to the series, here’s what you need to know:

Adam Torres and his step-brother, Drew, transferred to Degrassi High last season. Adam, who is male-identified and transgender, was accepted at school as just another guy until Bianca, a girl in his ballroom dancing class, inadvertently felt him up and then freaked out about him being female-bodied.

Her tantrum resulted in Adam being harassed at school, caving in to his mother’s desire that he dress like a girl, and ultimately asserting his right to be himself. Drew, sensitive soul that he is, is now dating Bianca.

Adam then became enamored with Fiona Coyne, a girl who always went for the wrong boys – Riley (gay), Declan (her twin brother), Bobby (abusive) — and Adam was no exception, but only because, as it turns out, all boys are wrong for her.

Cute as they were together, Fiona was less interested in respecting Adam’s male identity and more interested in him being “the best of both worlds: boyish and girlish.” Cue Adam ending things with her and Fiona coming to terms with her attraction to women (including a doomed crush on her straight best friend, Holly J).

Fiona now appears to be trying to be the new Emily Fitch. Or, at least, this promo photo for tonight’s premiere shows her standing by a scooter with the figure model, and every Skins/Naomily fan knows that scooters mean true love (even if you have to stand precariously on a few roofs and fall into a few paddling pools along the way).

Same as the spring, these recaps will stick to storylines involving either Adam or Fiona. If Emmy nominations and Peabody Awards are anything to go by, Degrassi clearly does queer well, so let’s hope these two characters (along with resident gay boys Riley and Zane) get lots to do this season.

Tune in tonight for Fiona’s storyline with the scooter-riding figure model, and stick around in the coming weeks to see what Season 11 brings for Adam!

Will you be joining me on this seven-week Degrassi marathon? What are you most excited to see happen this season?

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