Most of the commenters in my "extra" post from a few weeks ago expressed interest in Fifteen (which is the American title of a Canadian show called Hillside, so Canadian and possibly other non-US readers know the show by that name). I was able to find one full-length episode so far on Youtube, so I figured I'd recap it this week. Consider it my lame attempt to make up for the lack of entries during my move.
I remember the main characters and basic storylines from this show, and that pretty blonde Ashley was my favorite character. I think I wanted my name to be Ashley for awhile. And I loved her hair. I also have pretty strong memories of this scene from season 1 for some reason. I think it was part of an ad for the show. "That's it, Walker, push it!" classic. And the gay joke practically writes itself. Watching this specific episode again brought back more detailed memories--Ashley's basement; the Avalon (with its pinball machine!); Dylan's super-cool "rebellious" hair, leather jacket, and garage band. And I remember the soap-opera-ish scene-change music.
This show had a large rotating cast of characters, some of whom I don't even remember because they didn't join the cast until the final season. So here is a list of the characters who actually show up in this episode, and those who were mentioned but not seen:
-In This Episode:
Ashley Fraiser - Pretty, blonde, "perfect" girl; dated Matt
Courtney Simpson - Ashley's best friend, older sister of Billy
Billy Simpson - Courtney's little brother, friends with Dylan; a young Ryan Reynolds
Dylan Blackwell - The rebel; in a band, always wears a leather jacket
Brooke Morgan - The mean girl; an all-around bitch; I hated her
Matt Walker - The basketball star with a drinking problem; dated Ashley; looks like a young Matthew Broderick
Arseman Harrell - Friend of Courtney and Ashley who shows up in season 2 as if she had always been there
Amanda Morgan - Brooke's goody-two-shoes little sister, introduced in season 2
Janice - Seems to show up for the first time in this first episode of season 2; rather unremarkable, at least in this episode
-Mentioned but Not Seen:
Jake Deosdade - The Asian character, who randomly goes to China for six weeks at the start of season 2
Theresa Morgan - Brooke's other nice-girl little sister, as seen here in a season 1 clip with Brooke's best friend/chief rival Kelly. Both girls do not appear in season 2; Brooke explains in this episode that Theresa has transferred to art school, but Kelly's disappearance is never explained.
From what I gather, this episode picks up on a few loose ends from season 1: Matt getting kicked off the basketball team for drinking, Ashley getting caught cheating on a math test and leaving school in shame, Matt and Ashley's breakup, and Brooke getting caught stealing a geography paper. Courtney is at Ashley's house and is about to leave to catch up on some homework. Courtney has curly reddish hair and no fashion sense. Ashley always talks in this affected hushed half-whisper. It sort of gives everything she says a bitch undertone, but I think it's just bad acting. Courtney asks if Ashley thinks she'll come back to school tomorrow, because it's been almost a whole entire week. Courtney says that no one cares that she cheated on the test. Ashley says she doesn't care what they think, but she's going away to private school anyway. Her parents think she's surrounded by bad influences at Hillside, and Ashley wants a change. She is moving into her new school the day after tomorrow. Ashley affected-half-whispers, "Well, you better go, Courtney. Don't you have homework to do?" and Courtney gives her a melodramatic "I can't believe you're doing this" look before walking upstairs, as Ashley affectedly throws a pillow onto her couch and sighs. God, you'd think she killed someone. All she did was cheat on a test? I'm sure that happens every day.
The Avalon! The cool hangout where everyone gathers. A group of very early-90s basketball players enters discussing plays. Matt approaches them and asks how it's going. Awwwwwwwk-ward. The team seems to be on a winning streak since Matt got kicked off. The guys mumble that it was good to see him and then bolt. Sucks to be Matt. Cue dramatic scene-change music.
At school, Brooke enters in what one Youtube commenter called her "Footlocker getup," and that could not be more accurate. She looks like a trendy bitch referee. She also cut her hair super-short in season 2, and I remember hating that look. Anyway, replacement-Theresa Amanda is there, trying to get Brooke to speak to her again after she told their father that Brooke had been caught paying someone else to write a geography paper for her. Amanda says that she didn't mean to tell, but it just slipped out. Brooke bitches that she's just a "sneaky little daddy's girl." She says she'll consider forgiving Amanda if she heads out to the spot where the school buses gather and sees if she can get herself run over. Harsh words there, Brooke. Brooke stomps off as the dramatic music plays and Amanda looks shocked and hurt. ha.
Back at the Avalon, Matt is playing the pinball game I remember so well. Billy walks in and asks how Matt's been doing and how Ashley is. Matt's all "why are you asking me???" and Billy's all "you're supposed to be her boyfriend, aren't you?" Oooh, tension. Matt hasn't seen Ashley in a week, but he's starting to get the feeling she doesn't want to talk to him. Billy asks why, and Matt snarks, "Because she keeps slamming the phone down in my ear. I'm a perceptive guy, Billy." Matt asks Billy to say hi if he happens to see her.
Back at school, Dylan says hi to Courtney, but she totally goes all ice-queen on him and blows him off. But he asks if she's seen Ashley lately. You can hear Dylan's obviously cheap leather jacket rubbing and squeaking as he moves... weird. And he has an earring and gelled hair and metal necklaces. And his name is Dylan. Of course his name is Dylan. Rebel-without-a-cause Dylan asks if Courtney knows whether Ashley is coming back to school, and Courtney bitchily snoots, "What do you think?" Dylan says that he doesn't think much, and according to his teachers, that's his problem. Ha ha... get it? --He's stupid. And a delinquent. And wears a leather jacket. He says he's just kinda wondering about Ashley, and Courtney is just like, "Well, see ya around" and leaves. Ooooh, burned.
Except that she only goes, like, two feet away, to a table where Arseman is sitting. I don't see why Dylan couldn't easily overhear their conversation. This was supposedly Arseman's first appearance, but they have her sitting there acting as if she's been friends with them the entire time. Oh! Maybe Courtney and Dylan have a romantic past together? Courtney tells Arseman that she no longer feels like killing Dylan, just, in Areseman's words, "maiming him a little." She tells Arseman never to get involved with a guy. Arseman says she's not planning to. Is this Arseman's way of announcing that she's a lesbian? Arseman and Courtney plan a surprise going-away gathering for Ashley at the Avalon as a way to show her that no one is judging her for cheating. Since Ashley doesn't want to see anybody, Courtney is going to invite her to a one-on-one night out for pizza, but all her other friends will "just happen" to show up. And who should overhear these plans but queen bitch Brooke. Arseman and Courtney tell Brooke to keep her mouth shut about the plans, and Brooke promises to keep their secret. Courtney and Arseman walk away, and Brooke goes all Shakespearean villain on us as she soliloquizes, "Absolutely. Not a word. Not one word to a single soul." dun-dun-DUN.
Back to Ashley's basement. Courtney stops by during lunch as Ashley is packing. She tries to convince Ashley that no one blames her for cheating, but Ashley says, "That really doesn't matter now, does it?" Actually, it kind of does. Otherwise, what else is there to leave school over? Courtney puts her plan in motion and invites Ashley out for one last pizza at the Avalon, and Ashley reluctantly accepts.
Matt is alone at a table at the Avalon, and Brooke enters and sits across from him. After a quick lame explanation about the mysterious disappearance of Brooke's original little sister Theresa, she "accidentally" lets it slip about Ashley's move to private school. She says, "Oh Matt, I'm so sorry! I feel so terrible!" complete with hand-over-heart posing as Matt leaves in a huff.
Courtney and Arseman are back at school discussing the night's plans. Courtney's turtleneck and dress make her look like a fifty-something-year-old schoolteacher. They decide to invite Brooke, since she knows about it anyway, and Matt, even though talking to him will be difficult. Matt oh-so-conveniently walks over at this moment and tells them that Brooke filled him in on Ashley's move. Matt is pissed that he wasn't told sooner. Even though her best friend didn't know until last night, and she hasn't spoken to him in a week, and they just broke up. Shut up, Matt. Courtney still thinks he should go because, "all I know is... [dramatic pause] ...I know she still cares." Matt storms off as Courtney and Arseman look worriedly at the camera.
Poor, pathetic new-girl Janice walks up to Dylan at his locker and introduces herself, but he makes it clear that he is way too cool and rebellious to be seen with her. Janice is wearing this ugly pink or possibly white (poor episode quality) blouse with black polka-dots all over it. Billy walks in and just pushes Janice aside to talk to Dylan. That was so awesome. But poor Janice.
Courtney and Ashley are having their "pizza for two" at the Avalon, and Ashley is bitching that she doesn't want to see anyone from school. Too bad, Ashley, here comes Arseman. They fess up to Ashley about the plan, and at first she gets up to leave, but Dylan and Billy show up next and the group reassures her that no one hates her for cheating. The boys back off to go grab a soda, and Ashley starts to relax a little. Cue Matt's entrance. Matt seems to be taking a cue from the Ashley acting school of the affected-half-whisper. They exchange a few affected words before Matt heads over to the pinball machine.
Enter Brooke. Brooke really has the stealth bitch act down cold. She goes all mock-concerned over Ashley, going on about how terrible it is that she's being shipped off to "reform school" and letting her know that they all "forgive" her for the "dreadful" act of cheating. After all, she only cheated because she was totally unprepared, and it isn't a crime to be inadequate. hee... what a bitch. But it's Dylan to the rescue! He walks over and tells Brooke to find a toilet and flush herself down it. How tough and rebellious of him. Brooke stomps off, and Ashley goes to have a tearful talk with Matt by the pinball table. It's all very emo and "wah-wah-wah... I'm sorry... it's awful when something really great gets totally ruined." Matt ends with a dramatic "Well... take care Ashley" with his eyes welled up with tears, and Ashley half-whispers, "You too" back to him, and I want to rip my eyes out after watching this scene, which culminates in Matt staring wistfully at the pinball machine.... yeah.
"Next time, on Fifteen": Oh noes! Matt's drinking again! And Billy sucks as a drummer. Oh, and Janice makes a friend! yay Janice! And Amanda grows a pair and tells Brooke that she has no friends.
-Anyone know why Nickelodeon decided to change the show's title from Hillside to Fifteen for American audiences? It seems kind of random and arbitrary.
-I really liked Theresa better than Amanda.
-I watched this show all the time when I was in my preteen years. But I somehow never noticed how horribly over the top and melodramatic it was.
-As a 26-year-old who is an unashamed fan of both the original Degrassi Jr. High and Degrassi High as well as the newer "Next Generation" show, I can definitely say that if more episodes of this often overlooked Canadian teen melodrama are out there, I must find them.