The Province from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on November 6, 1989 · 35
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The Province from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada · 35

Publication:
Location:
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Issue Date:
Monday, November 6, 1989
Page:
35
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The Province '''''SQSl Monday, VS. November 6, 1989 mnunm ft VV& Page 35 R Erica (Angela Deiseach, left) becomes pregnant and consid-ers an abortion which her I twin, Heather (Maureen Deiseach), opposes in I Degrassi High tonight t at 8:30 on Ch. 2. i ? " f i . . . . mi llMlf vmmex-. ' j ' 1 - 'fib... JLf L..J umJP' -w rTi -i .iVfi-miiff id HE timing been better. couldn't have The execution, though, cou Just as abortion resurfaces as a thorny national issue, the CBC airs a special one-hour debut of Degrassi High dealing with yup abortion. The show deserves attention. For more than one reason. On Friday the U.S. public network PBS, which also runs Degrassi, decided to cut the ending to the show, titled A New Start. A PBS executive said the editing was done for "esthetic" reasons. Canadian viewers will see the complete version and can judge for themselves. For the uninitiated, Degrassi High is a sequel to Degrassi Junior High, a Canadian-made series that has won enough awards (including an Emmy) to fill three pages of our Degrassi press release. "As the students get older, the issues they face are more complex." says the release. And how! In tonight's debut (Ch. 2 at 8:30). Erica (Angela Deiseach) becomes pregnant after a summer fling with a camp counsellor. She confides only in her twin sister. Heather (Maureen Deiseach), and after a lot of teen angst considers an abortion. But Heather is strongly opposed and to Abortion issue on Degrassi needs more mature attention TELEVISION if il their differences open a rift between them. And so it goes ... if somewhat predictably. Abortion has been a TV topic before but never in the way it's dealt with in Degrassi High. Like its Junior predecessor, the series is more remarkable for what it doesn't do than what it does. It isn't slick, the acting is wildly uneven and its characters are never the fashion-laden, upper-middle-class puppies that populate the American sitcom. In other words, it's almost real. More importantly, it's young at heart. You rarely see adults in Degrassi High and for the most part that's a good thing. TV adults in most teen-oriented programs are never more than moral baggage, thrown in to set the limits and define "real" values. Degrassi appears to let its young characters sort out things for themselves in their murky moral universe. Life is a sock hop and adults aren't invited. Those who are feel free to speak their minds not just snappy one-liners. "Erica had a romance. He turned out to be a jerk." "She's not a virgin anymore." "I wouldn't mind having a boyfriend." It's plain talk, perhaps to a fault. In tonight's episode, the Degrassi kids are left to flail away with an issue perhaps too big to resolve during recess. Acne. yes. Drug abuse, perhaps. Abortion, well . . . One adult does make an appearance, an abortion clinic worker who offers technical but not moral advice. The clinic pickets, who may be accurately portrayed (as insensitive zealots) , serve as nothing more than a kind of cartoon evil. Again, the Degrassi young (through adult writer Yan Moore) are left to swim upstream themselves. Parents may be "nowhere" but in Degrassi High that teen notion is taken literally. Mom and Dad are out of sight and out of mind except as an extra-terrestrial species you keep secrets from. "1 can't be a mom I'm too young." says Erica. "But abortion's wrong." is her sister's stern response. "You know what the minister says." And so what is refreshingly simple in most episodes becomes simplistic here with such a complex moral issue at stake. Teen talk ("But abortion's wrong!") only reduces the problem to the bumper-sticker level of righteous moralism ("It's killing someone") and lofty platitudes ("Just because it (abortion) was wrong for me doesn't mean it's wrong for someone else") . Father never knew best. And it's good that Degrassi High doesn't drag out good ol" Dad (or Mom) to make the moral call at home. But abortion is a weighty matter and in tonight's show the subject begs for a reasoned, informed voice. At Degrassi High the adults are out to lunch.

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