Marco is inside a picture booth, posing unenthusiastically. Really, I would expect more out of the fashionista who showed up at school last week. In the background, 1950s elevator music plays. Marco makes it through three poses, grimacing after each one, before Dylan pops his head through the curtain and gives his boy a kiss on the cheek. Dylan might be cuter in this episode than he was in the entirety of last season. His hair is more bouncy, his smile is brighter, his eyes have more sparkle. Hello, Dylan. I think I love you. Despite Dylan’s beauty, Marco is not thrilled at the semi-public display of affection.
As it turns out, the photo booth resides in the drugstore where Marco’s mom works. Marco’s pissed because he still hasn’t come out to his parents. This, in turn, makes Dylan angry, because he’s sick of hiding the fact that they’re dating. More on that later. The two boys snark at each other as they approach Marco’s mother, who has toned down the bad Italian accent from last year by about 60 percent.
The photos are for Marco’s campaign posters – he’s running for president of Degrassi’s student government – and for reasons that are unclear to me, Marco’s mom gets to choose the photo that will grace the school halls. What is also unclear to me is why no one has a digital camera, and later I will wonder how Marco’s father managed to get such good resolution from enlarging the photo booth shot. But these things aren’t really important.
Marco holds the picture behind his back, and without looking at it, manages to tear the photo of Dylan kissing him clean off the bottom of the strip. Even more amazing, he manages to do it in such a way that his mother actually believes that there were only three photos on the strip to begin with – are photo strips in Canada are perforated? Canadians are so lucky. Marco’s mother says that all three shots say “president” to her. Actually, one of them says “pretentious,” and one says “confused,” and the middle one says “constipated.” Marco kisses his ma goodbye.
Dylan takes off out into the mall (I believe this is the same mall where Ashley sang Elvis in “I Want Candy”) and Marco has to skip to catch up with him. Marco tries to lighten up the situation by offering Dylan the picture of the two of them, saying that he can use it to make his roommates jealous. Except that they’re straight, and he can’t use it to make them uncomfortable, because they are okay with Dylan being gay.
Dylan is disappointed that Marco is the only one in his family who knows that they’re dating, and he hands the picture back. I just want to point out that, as a gay teenager who has been harassed for being gay, Dylan isn’t being very understanding with his boyfriend, who is even younger and lives with a father who has been outwardly vocal on the subject of gays in front of them. Marco tries to talk about it, but Dylan walks off.
I have to confess that the new theme song really doesn’t do it for me. It doesn’t inspire puns or enthusiastic commentary. I think, for this season, I’m just going to skip it.
The next day at school, Marco is wearing a trucker cap that dwarfs his head, but he otherwise looks like a normal, cool hipster. He approaches Paige and tells her that he tried to call all night, but never got through. Paige says that he only called half as much as Dylan, and then asks if she’d make a good travel agent. She needs a job to pay off the damage to the Lovemobile. Which would almost be sweet, if she wasn’t still making everything all about her.
Wait. Dylan called her? He was supposed to call Marco! Paige is playing dumb about it, and claims that Dylan needed to study or join a secret society, or whatever else it is people do at university. Marco wants to know if he should be worried. Paige makes a face that says, “your relationship is doomed,” but hides it from Marco. Instead, she says that Dylan is hard to read when he’s having his little tantrums.
They round a corner, and Paige trips over the legs of someone sitting in the hall. That someone is Alex. They say a bunch of bitchy things to each other that amount mostly to “your mother is so ugly” and “that’s what your momma said” and stuff. Alex threatens to bloody Paige’s shirt, and Paige threatens to deflate Alex’s attitude. I just don’t get Alex. When I was in high school, there were no girls who liked to randomly beat people up. Paige tells Alex that she’s a loser, because the majority says that she is. Spinner shows up just in time to look smug about his girlfriend’s zinger, and then they all walk off.
Emma is fluffing her hair in a classroom window. Chris – who I was convinced we would never see this season – comes down some stairs and catches her. He wants to know why girls are always trying to make their hair bigger. Emma wants to know why boys are always catching girls doing stupid things. As usual, they have no chemistry whatsoever. Liberty interrupts and says something that I don’t understand, and then she walks off. Emma says she’s sorry about “what happened” between them over the summer. Is it wrong that I don’t care what happened? Chris takes her apology as an opening to ask her out for a shake, which is what they did on their first date. Emma is non-committal.
Marco walks by Alex, who addresses him as “gay kid.” Oh, I get it! This is the episode where they remind us that Marco is GAY! I had almost forgotten. Just like all those times I forgot about Willow on Buffy. Silly me.
Marco doesn’t take the bait and keeps walking, but Alex wants to talk. He tells her that he doesn’t answer to “gay kid,” so she patronizes him by calling him “mister prez” and then somewhat sincerely asks him what the issues are in the upcoming election. Instead of just answering, Marco mouths off about what Paige said earlier. I’m guessing that was a mistake. Alex couldn’t care less about Paige, she wants Marco to answer her question as if he cares. He tells her to save it for the assembly and glares at her as she walks off.
Snake sneaks up behind Marco and tells him that Alex has signed up to run against him for president, and she’s “hungry for blood.” Alex already has a lot of kids talking – and not about Marco. At least, not yet.
Liberty spies Chris sitting on a bench, listening to music. He’s not wearing his bucket cap, so I am momentarily confused about who he is until about halfway through the conversation. She asks if the seat next to him is taken, and he repeats something back about bacon. He tells her that A Buck 65 is what he’s listening to. So she, naturally, assumes he paid $1.65 for the headphones he’s wearing. Dear Degrassi: I love you, but this whole farcical British vibe you’re trying to pull off isn’t working. Kisses, me.
Chris hands over his headphones as Liberty tells him that she “likes this part” of the song. They listen with their heads together for a moment before Liberty declares that she’s always wanted to broaden her knowledge of popular music. Chris deems himself a “professor” and offers to teach her. They make plans to go to a record store or CD store or whatever. Liberty will buy him falafel. He says that it’s a date.
Okay. I am all for Liberty having boyfriends and good storylines. But Chris? Poor girl would be better off pursuing her endless crush on JT. At least he’s an interesting character.
In the cafeteria, Alex is hanging up her election posters. Anarchy is her theme, which I suppose some might perceive as ironic in a “black fly on your chardonnay” sort of way. Marco is sitting with the usual gang – Spinner, Paige, Hazel and Craig – who all say they will do anything they can to help him defeat Alex. Craig says that she’s Most Likely to Succeed in Killing Someone. Marco says that her slogan, “Authority Sux” is an illiterate catch phrase and he’s not worried. What he is worried about is Dylan, who doesn’t seem to be calling him. Marco dials the number on his cell and goes outside.
Hazel points out that Marco actually is worried, but Paige tells her the truth: Siegfried might be looking for a new Roy. Degrassi seems to be all about the pop culture references this season, which will only make it seem terribly dated in a few years. I hope they cut it out.
Marco gets Dylan on the horn, but Dylan says that it’s not a good time to talk. He’s lounging in his dorm, wearing a Maple Leafs jersey. He looks divine. Marco tells him that he just had a huge day – there’s someone running against him now. Dylan and I both point out that elections generally work that way. Marco is sad that he’s not getting sympathy so he changes the subject. Dylan forgot to call him last night.
Or maybe “forgot” isn’t the right word. Dylan tells him that after what happened with the picture, he went back to his dorm to think things over. Marco says that it was just a stupid picture… except it’s not. Dylan tells him that he just can’t do it anymore, and then hangs up.
In math class, Chris is sitting in front of Liberty who is sitting beside Emma who is sitting in front of Manny. Chris and Liberty keep grinning at each other, and Liberty is drawing hearts around “Liberty + Chris” in her notebook. Coach Armstrong asks her a question, to which she replies “A buck 65.” Har, har.
She blushes and tries to cover her notebook, but Manny sees the whole thing and decides for reasons unknown that Emma needs to be in the know. She leans forward and whispers that if Liberty is losing her math, it must be love. Emma tries to deny it, but Manny reaches over and yanks Liberty’s notebook to the floor. On her way to the chalkboard, she drops the notebook on Emma’s desk, love doodles in full display. Emma gives Liberty a death stare.
Papa is eager to show off Marco’s campaign posters. He says that he and Mama are so proud that they’re going to go to the school to see Marco’s victory speech at the assembly. Marco explains that there’s competition now, but Papa thinks that Mama picked the perfect picture for the posters, and that they will win him the election anyway. For the record, she picked “pretentious.” Marco shrugs off his dad and runs to his room.
Where Mama finds him trying not to cry. He tells her that he’s scared about writing and delivering his speech, but she doesn’t believe him. She says his name with an Italian accent and everything else with a South Jersey one. Odd. He confesses that it’s relationship stuff. He met “someone” last year and it just didn’t work out. Mama didn’t know he had a girlfriend! He says that he doesn’t, which isn’t a lie. Out of the blue, Mama says “so it was Dylan.” Surprisingly, there is no violin music accompanying this scene.
Marco tells her that Dylan is just his friend. He’s not gay. Mama gives him a look to let him know he’s busted, and as he starts to cry, we get mournful piano music instead. He’s gay. He is gay. Also, he’s gay. Mama starts to cry and nod her head. I don’t mean to sound like this scene isn’t important in the grand scheme of things, because it is, but in comparison to the coming out scenes last season, it really lacks punch.
It’s a new day at school. Emma is walking and is joined by Manny, who tells her that Liberty and Chris have a date tomorrow after school. It is unclear whether Manny still hates Emma and wants her to be jealous, or if Manny wants to help Emma get what she thinks Emma wants (Chris). Manny says that when Liberty sees an opportunity, she goes for it. “She’s like a rabid wolverine.” Except that Liberty is usually just awkward and sad when it comes to men, like the time she dressed in 1950s garb to impress Sean, or the time she pestered JT so much that he had to thrash her feelings to get her to go away. Wolverine? A baby wolverine, maybe. One with a broken leg.
Up go the campaign posters. Paige joins Marco in the hallway to tell him that she has “ear cancer” because Dylan kept her on the phone for three hours being worried about Marco. Methinks a better plan would have been to let her get off the phone so she could go comfort him, but whatever. Marco tells her that he came out to his mom, and the relief is evident on his face. Paige goes crazy with the love. She’s so proud of him. Marco is worried that his mom won’t love him anymore, but Paige very sagely tells him that he’s had a year of being gay, and Mama has only had one night.
The lovefest is interrupted by Alex, who is tearing down Marco’s posters. She says that they are only allowed to spend $40 on the election and the posters were obviously more. Paige points out that Marco’s dad printed the posters so they were technically free. Alex calls it an unfair advantage and she’s pretty much right. Marco wants to know why she’s doing this. Because he’s running, and she can. He gets all high and mighty and tells her that no one, NO ONE, will vote for her. Not unless they open the vote to high school dropouts and her parole officer.
No one’s going to vote for her “yet,” she says. But tomorrow, at the assembly, she’s going to ask the crowd who they want to lead the school. A freak, or a queer? She walks off and calls out over her shoulder, “By the way, I’m the freak.” Maybe next time Marco should try not baiting her.
Gym class. Emma approaches Chris and tells him that his form is good. I think he’s stretching. He scowls and tells her not to tease him. She’s not, honest! She just wanted to tell him that she would “really, really, really like” to get back together. Again, with the teasing! Emma is laying it on so thick that I expect her to pull out a lollipop and start licking it seductively. Such a bizarre little Lolita moment. She asks him out for tomorrow after school. He’s got a “thing,” but doesn’t admit it’s a date with Liberty. Emma is confident that he can make the time to be with her. She tells him that she was teasing about his form, it’s awful. She shoves him playfully and walks away while Liberty watches.
After school, Manny tells Emma that she’ll loan her the coolest new skirt for her date with Chris. Emma wants to know why she’d want it, so Manny explains that Emma’s legs are a killer asset and will help her win back Chris. But she doesn’t want to win back Chris. Manny says that it’s obvious Emma is in love with him, she can see it in Emma’s eyes.
The truth is, Emma just didn’t want him to go out on a date with someone else. Because she’s jealous? Pshaw. Not of Liberty. Manny catches on and realizes that Emma is embarrassed that Liberty is the first girl Chris has dated since her. Emma wants to know what people will think of her. Manny says that is the meanest thing she has ever heard Emma say, “and that’s saying something.” It is. Emma said all sorts of mean things to Manny just last year!
Marco is making up lies to tell Papa about why he can’t go to the assembly. Mama is not amused, except that she agrees with Marco that having Alex out him in front of Papa would be bad. It breaks Mama’s heart that people will hate Marco because he’s gay. Marco says that no one hates him, except for Alex, and that’s not because he’s – Papa’s home!
Papa asks if the posters did the trick. He’s so eager and earnest. Marco tells him that he’s dropping out. He talked to last year’s president, and it’s too much work. His grades would suffer. Papa is disappointed in Marco for being a quitter. He’s proud of him for running, but will be less proud if he quits. Papa leaves so that Marco and Mama can hug and cry in peace.
It’s election day. Emma sees Liberty and tries to pretend they can still be friends after Emma was a total bitch. Emma says that she’s thinking of voting for Alex. “You’re dead to me,” Liberty says. Manny told her the whole thing. Liberty says that jealousy is really ugly. Emma lies and says that it’s just hard for her to let Chris go. “It’s easy for me to let you go…straight to hell.” Ha! That would be funny if it made any sense.
Alex is dressed like a mechanic – in a hip hop video. She’s wearing navy utility pants and a matching shirt that is tied up underneath her breasts baring about a mile of stomach. She says that she’s going to barf. Crazy Jay is confused that she would actually care about the election. Before she can answer, Marco calls her out. He asks her if she was really going to call him gay at the assembly, and she reminds him that she was going to use “queer.” He tells her that she actually has a chance of winning the election, and asks her if she wants to win by fighting dirty. Crazy Jay interrupts and leads her away, but she looks sort of stunned by the interaction.
Alex’s campaign speech, in case you care, goes like this: “It’s all the same. Some pretty boy or girl wants to be president, and me? We sit it out while they have their special dances or trips nobody can afford. So I say screw ’em. Screw Student Counsel. I say, no dances, no trips, nothing. Not if it’s going to be just like last year. Take a chance and vote for me, and it won’t be like last year. I will make changes, where they count. So it’s up to you, Degrassi. Are you going to vote for the freak…”
Marco and Mama wait for the ball to drop. Papa is recording the entire thing with a camcorder. Alex looks at Marco and makes a choice. “…Or the pretty boy? ‘Cause you’ll have more fun with the freak.” Woo! Guilt wins out in the end.
It’s Marco’s turn. All the cool kids, plus Papa, cheer for him. “Look, she’s right. No, Alex is right! This school is split.” Marco sees Dylan walk in and sit down in the back. “But, where she’s wrong? Come on! It’s not the president’s job to remind us that we’re freaks. I mean, I can do that fine all by myself.” Crazy Jay takes it upon himself to cough “queer” loud enough for everyone to hear. Alex is less than thrilled, Papa looks confused and Marco looks sick. He recovers with the help of a cheering Paige.
“Hey! Queer? Sure. Odd? Why not? Strange? You bet. I love this school. And I promise, if you vote for me, I will bring Degrassi together in freakish harmony for the first time. For real. Thank you.” The crowd goes wild, but it was a terrible speech.
That afternoon, Liberty hosts a special edition of the video announcements. Marco is the student council president! But just barely. The vote count is 321 to 309. Alex looks crushed, because she actually cared about winning all along. Let this be a lesson to you: Bullies have feelings, too. Marco stops her from fleeing the scene to tell her that he gets to pick his vice president. And he liked what she had to say in her speech. And he thinks she could bring a lot to the position. She pretends that she doesn’t care, but dedicates the time of the first meeting to memory. Marco bursts into a rousing rendition of “I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony.” Not really.
Warning! Bad dialogue ahead! Dylan has come to congratulate Marco and ask him how it feels to be the most powerful man at Degrassi. “Mixing me up with Principal Radditch, eh?” replies Marco. “Not cool, or flattering.” Gag. But there’s more! “I liked you being here today, Dylan, probably because I just plain like you.” I almost expect him to add, “like I like RFR.” He says that, while he told his mother about being gay, he’s just not ready to tell his dad. Dylan comes to his senses and says that Marco will eventually have to tell him, but not until he’s ready.
Papa and Mama exit the school to tell Marco how awesome he is. Papa kicks his Super Mario Brothers accent up a notch and asks Marco why “that boy” would call him something so nasty. Mama and Dylan look worried that Marco’s going to come out to Papa on the school steps, but instead he says that Crazy Jay couldn’t come up with anything worse to call him. It was just dirty politics.
Mama and Papa are so proud! Mama tries to engage Dylan in small talk, but Dylan is being very diplomatic and not giving away whether or not he’s going to continue dating her son. God. He’s got great hair. Papa and Mama walk away, and the two boys stare after them.