‘Degrassi: Next Class’ handles Yael’s gender fluidity intelligently and gracefully

  • There’s something refreshing about how Netflix‘s Degrassi: Next Class underplays Yael’s coming out as gender-fluid.
  • Though the reveal was one of the most heavily teased parts of the teen dramedy’s fourth season, it plays very much as a B-story through the 10 episodes dropped on Netflix Friday.
  • This isn’t to say Yael’s story is minimized in any way: Their process is well-paced, and their eventual revelation feels earned.
  •  But Degrassi smartly doesn’t play the storyline for heavy, overwrought drama — and in the process, it crafts a graceful, intelligent story about personal discovery that feels like a vital addition to the stories about queer and gender non-conforming people that are being told on TV today. Read more (Opinion)

things that are included in the new season of degrassi next class: 

proper bisexual representation
someone struggling with their gender identity
the same person identifying as non-binary
discussion of using the right pronouns
accurate portrayal of all the islamophobia muslims are facing nowadays
amazing muslim representation
a healthy lesbian relationship
tons of lgbt+ people
lots of poc representation
accurate portrayal of a mentally ill person showing side effects of their illness
deciding not to have your lesbophobic mom in your life

and most importantly: a good, positive ending for all the characters who graduated

You guys may not like Esme, but she’s high-key one of the best mental health stories Degrassi has ever told. I am continuously impressed with her arc. So far it is more accurate than any of the mental illnesses shown during TNG (Craig, Eli, etc.) and more consistent than any of the other mental illness stories during NC (Miles, Maya, Hunter). Most of those characters were written to be more like-able but they also got help/treatment much sooner (most of them within only a couple of episodes after they started showing symptoms). 

Degrassi has a long history of inaccurate or inconsistent mental health story lines - whether it’s the eating disorders that magically go away within 2 episodes, or the symptoms of bipolar disorder and depression that only appeared when the entire episode was going to revolve around those illnesses. But in almost every single scene Esme has been in since she came onto the show, she has shown consistent symptoms of a personality disorder. Hyper-sexuality, mania, rage issues, suicidal tendencies, fear of abandonment, etc. are all symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder and she displays them in every single episode. Hell, in her first scene she displayed impulsive behavior (cutting off her hair) and then Miles immediately became her FP (favorite person, a term used in the borderline community). 

You don’t have to like her on a personal level (although I really don’t think you should hate her either) but you should at least be able to appreciate her character from both a creative and psychological point of view. Creatively, because of how well she is written and acted. Psychologically, because of how accurately she portrays the symptoms of untreated mental illness. As long as the writers pull through with eventually giving her a proper diagnosis (hopefully a personality disorder) and treatment, she will be their best example of a mental illness story yet. (Not to say Craig, Eli, Miles, Maya, etc. weren’t great too - they were, and they were much more loveable characters, but the accuracy of Esme is next level)