Top 5 live action Disney fims*

*Not including the live action reboots or Marvel films. Or Mary Poppins because I have not watched it.

Disney has firmly made its stamp on the animation game, even when being overshadowed by Pixar in originality, storytelling, quality of animation etc. and facing solid competition from DreamWorks. There was a a time particularly in the 2000s that there were a fair few live action Disney films being put out. Nowadays Disney have found a new money making scheme of going through their animated classics catalogue and giving them a live action re-imagining, upcoming ones include Aladdin, Mulan and Lion King. One day they’ll get desperate enough to reboot Treasure Planet and Brother Bear.

I was feeling nostalgic so I wanted to list five live action Disney works that I liked.

5. Remember the Titans
I didn’t realise this was a Disney film until after I watched. This is probably the most serious Disney film I’ve ever seen as it follows a American football coach trying to train high school team amidst racial tensions. As a person who HATES SPORTS WITH A FIERY PASSION I have a weird penchant for sports films. Remember the Titans follows a tough coach who tries to bring a team together to win a trophy or something (I really do hate sports) but it’s always inspiring to see a group overcome their differences to achieve a common goal. Sports is for everybody, just not me. Also this film has Denzel Washington which is always a plus.

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4. Enchanted
We may be bending the rules here a bit as some of this film is animated. This is the closest to Shrek that Disney has gotten, with Shrek poking fun at fairy tales, here Disney is poking fun at themselves. What I consider makes a good parody is that while the film does have jokes about the subject it is parodying, it also has it’s own story that keeps the film from being just a gag after another, this is what made Shrek and Shaun of the Dead work. Enchanted follows princess Giselle who is transported from the land of Andalasia to New York and tries to be reunited with her prince. Giselle is then given a reality check, as she realises she can’t marry a man she’s known for a day (Frozen was not the first to point this out) as do other princess in previous Disney flicks. Enchanted has a great premise, well developed characters and bearable songs. It really doesn’t need a sequel but there will probably be one anyway because money talks.

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3. Freaky Friday
This film has a mother and daughter who are at odds that find themselves switching bodies on a Friday. As you’d think, they experience hi-jinks with the mother trying to navigate high school and the daughter trying to navigate a career and impending marriage. Walking in each other’s shoes helps them understand each other. Life can be challenging for a mother but a teenager’s one can be just as hard as for a teenager it is really easy to feel like it’s the end of the world. Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis really make this, I genuinely don’t think any other pair of actors could have made Freaky Friday as enjoyable as it is.

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2. Holes
Disney made a film about young delinquents who are sent to a juvenile detention camp where the camp goers are required to dig holes everyday seemingly to build character and teach discipline. It sounds like something that could be dark, and there are parts that pretty dour, but this film is as fun as much as it is dramatic and the balances the two tones well. The film follows Stanley Yelnats who is sent to the camp, wrongly being accused of stealing shoes. He’s thrust into a place far from home, that’s intimidating at first but he finds a way to be accepted also develops a heartwarming friendship with outcast Zero. Young adult films are being made a lot these days, but they have a lot to look up to in Holes which portrays youngsters trying to overthrow corrupted adults with nothing but their wits and shovels.

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1. The Princess Diaries
This film has a special place in my heart. It’s the lowest rated in this list by critics. I don’t understand why. As a teenager watching Julie Andrews tell a frizzy haired Anne Hathaway that she’s a princess was a significant moment of history. The dorky main character Mia is revealed to be first in line to the throne of some European country and this makes her freak out. Her grandmother Clarisse teaches her the way of being a proper princess and it’s endearing to watch Mia clumsily prepare herself for the monarchy and endure high school filled with jerks which include the voice of Sid from Toy Story and the voice of Rapunzel from Tangled (fun fact!). The more times I watch Princess Diaries, it always me feel better at times when I’m down. Yeah, the power of nostalgia, but this film has a charm that elevates it.

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Bright talk

While Netflix has produced tonnes of great TV series, it hasn’t quite found it’s footing in producing films of the same calibre. I’ve watched maybe a handful of original Netflix films, at least I think I have, I can’t actually remember their names. But I definitely remember Bright. Oh boy. It’s been a few months but I still think about this charming mess of a film semi-regularly.

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Bright is a gritty fantasy cop drama following a human police officer who has to team up with an orc. Starring Will Smith. Directed by the guy who did Suicide Squad. With all these elements, you know it’s going to be an experience. For the most part, it is just a straight forward crime film following two law enforcers from different backgrounds, this has been done for decades in films like Rush Hour, Hot Fuzz, 21 Jump Street, even previous Will Smith films such as Bad Boys and Men in Black. And Men in Black had aliens in it, but it was actually decent. Why didn’t Bright with its supernatural element work?

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Well, all that is wrong with this film can be condensed in a line uttered by Will Smith’s character near the beginning which was “Fairy lives don’t matter”. The second this line was uttered, you knew the direction things were going.  The film tried to be an allegory where fantasy creatures such as orcs are discriminated against, much like how minorities in real life face persecution. The attempt at wanting to tackle discrimination was commendable but was executed so poorly. The Disney animated film Zootopia had a pretty similar premise but handled its themes a lot more smartly. As we get more films like Zootopia and Lego Movie, it seems like films that are made for kids get world messages across better.

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Left: Bright, Right: Brighter

Bright is not for kids of course, with the violence and profanity it really earns its edgy card. I wish it could have followed Men in Black’s tone of not taking itself too seriously. I genuinely think a crime drama crossed with fantasy is an interesting idea, kind of like Wolf Among Us (which I loved by the way, can’t wait for Season 2!).

Despite its many flaws, Bright was still entertaining to watch as it clumsily tried to mix genres and deliver social commentary. And it apparently got high streaming figures so a sequel is being made. I’m both concerned and intrigued to see what a second helping of Bright will bring.

Nintendo Switch: One year on

Last year the unthinkable happened: Nintendo didn’t embarrass themselves.

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I kid, I love Nintendo and I love that they’re back on top with the Nintendo Switch which has taken the video world by storm.

As I fade further into adulthood, I really don’t have a lot of time for games, so I have only in fact played two games on the Switch. These were of course the two biggies, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey.

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Legend of Zelda: BOTW took my, ahem, breath away. There’s an age old saying- if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The Legend of Zelda series had a formula, a mute elf-looking guy traverses through dungeons to save a princess. Well, Link is still elf-looking and mute (maybe a good thing since voice acting in this game wasn’t exactly stellar) but the normal gameplay of following a linear story and obtaining weapons along the way that conveniently will defeat the next boss was thrown out into the stratosphere. The game began with Link waking up and walking into the open world, then that was it. It  was like the game said, “It’s dangerous to go alone… bye!” No tutorial and no annoying fairy to lead the way. It was a shock to the system and I died a lot when I first played. It was such a huge change to actually have to plan attacks, thinking about what weapons you have, if they’re strong enough, if you’re wearing the right clothes for the environment.

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Oh man those one wheel days

There’s still a story to follow, but there’s also so much more to explore and it’s fun that you can discover little tricks and shortcuts , which were ideas that you actually thought of on your own and not something the game spoon-fed you. The game really feels like an adventure.

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I didn’t know how Super Mario Odyssey could top Super Mario Galaxy in its relative scale and innovation. The game does have similarities to Galaxy, but it’s basically a love letter to the entire Super Mario franchise over-spilling with colourful level designs and some quite challenging bosses, as well as the new mechanic of possessing enemies and assuming their abilities which was a delight, albeit a little violating when you think about it. There’s an extortionate number of moons to collect and I really doubt I will ever get all of them. I’ll always have the Perfect Run though.

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I’m excited for the future of games on the Nintendo Switch that are yet to come, for instance I can finally understand what people mean when they say some random game is “the new Dark souls” by playing the actual Dark Souls game when the remaster is released.

Also, still no Netflix app.

Black Panther talk

Warning: spoilers

I’ve kind of slipped off the MCU craze, as I have yet to see The Punisher, Thor 3 and Spider-(Man how many times they going to reboot this): Homecoming.  But no matter what, I was going to check out Black Panther as soon as it came out.

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We saw a glimpse of T’Challa, Prince of Wakanda aka Black Panther back in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. There was so much to unravel about his character and the country he reigns over. Let’s talk about Wakanda. The aesthetics in this film are so well done. There’s a traditional element with the African cultural influences but also since the Wakandians have all that Vibranium (only slightly less cringey name than Unobtanium) they  have technology and weaponry akin to Stark Industries on steroids. The traditional and futuristic aspects blend pleasingly well together.

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She’s technically a Disney princess

There was so much bad-assness which sometimes in other films like Transformers reduces characters to cliches, but in Black Panther every character is compelling. I mean FINALLY there is a Marvel villain who is actually well written with clear motivations. Erik Stevens or Killmonger is of Wakanda blood but grew up in America which has a shaky history with how African Americans are treated, putting it lightly so it’s somewhat understandable why Erik is determined to take over Wakanda and distribute it’s resources. However, he wants World Domination which is not the way of the people of Wakanda so ensues a enthralling battle between two mindsets.

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T’Challa of course triumphs but his arc was really interesting as he understands the risks of revealing the true nature of Wakanda but unlike his predecessors he can’t just sit back. The film ended on a really positive where Wakanda is seen to be reaching out to the world to help out.

My love for the MCU has been reignited, I’m set for Infinity War, bring it on!

Life is Strange: Before the Storm- Episode 3 talk

Warning, spoilers

We have come to the end of this problematic prequel. I have enjoyed the past 2 episodes despite their flaws, but this ending just felt rather limp.

It started out with James telling the story of his relationship with Sera with whom he goes way back to when they attended high school. The way the story was told was Rachel and Chloe peering through a viewfinder, which was a cool throwback to Episode 1.

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How I Met Your Mother

Jame’s version of events paints Sera as a drug addict who was a danger to herself and Rachel, which was why he kept her a secret. Of course, there is suspicion that James is not telling the whole truth, and Rachel tags along with Chloe to meet with Frank to find Sera.

However, Frank brings with him Damon Merrick who Chloe owes money to on behalf of Drew North. A confrontation ensues, Rachel valiantly tries to fend Merrick off but ends up getting stabbed. She survives, but we know that.

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While Rachel recovers in hospital, Chloe flies solo breaking into Jame’s office for some clues. This was my favourite part of the episode, being a huge Ace Attorney fan I love detective work. We find out that James is actually up to shady business trying to keep Sera away. As we dig for evidence, we’re also live texting to Merrick who is holding Sera hostage on Jame’s orders.

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The scene then takes an eye-rolling turn when Elliot turns up, who is completely irrelevant at this point. He does a 180 to suddenly become a villain akin to Hans in Frozen. He corners Chloe, gets angry and jealous, demanding that she stops seeing Rachel and be with him.

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Is Eliot actually a Prescott

Chloe luckily gets away and faces Merrick who has Sera tied up. We don’t backtalk our way into freeing her, instead Chloe is knocked out and Frank deals with Merrick off screen. Chloe wakes up and has a talk with Sera, who requests she keeps everything a secret from Rachel, so that she doesn’t hate James.

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The game ends with presenting us two choices, to tell or not to tell Rachel the truth about James. This will result in two slightly different endings, one with a happy Amber family and one with a broken Amber family. I think it would have just worked better to have just one ending, either way we know what ultimately happens to Rachel in a few years.

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It’s not like it’s life or death

I like this series a lot so a mediocre Life is Strange game is better than no Life is Strange game. I kept thinking throughout this episode that it would’ve have been a lot better if Rachel was the playable character, because even though they had become such good friends, there’s a lot that Rachel kept from Chloe including her relationship with Frank and Jefferson. Regarding Jefferson, the game’s final image is a haunting reminder of Rachel’s fate.

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Life is Strange: Before the Storm- Episode 2 talk

Seriously, spoilers

Ack, I didn’t realise episode 2 was already out so I’m a little late.

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This episode unfortunately starts off a little slow. We start off with Chloe and Rachel in the principal’s office getting the smack down for skipping school. Luckily their involvement in the fire is still a secret, but Chloe does end up getting suspended. Then there is yet another argument between Chloe, her mother and David which gets tedious.

Things got dull in the section in the junkyard where Chloe fixes up a truck. Although that’s probably due to my own personal hatred towards anything related to car maintenance.

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Still in better condition than my car

There’s another dream sequence with Chloe’s dad which was very creepy and effective. The episode starts to pick up more after this. Things get really interesting when we see the lady who Rachel’s father was seen to be fooling around with step out of Frank’s RV. We then go on a snooping tirade through Frank, Drew and Eliot’s things which is a Life is Strange staple and always fun.

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These characters have surprisingly wholesome search histories

Things get intense when demon drug dealer Damon beats up Drew who owes him money. The mood gets lighter when Chloe is dragged into performing in the Tempest play by Rachel. It’s spectacularly awkward yet hilarious and I liked there was a challenge to actually memorise the script. Rachel and Chloe getting even closer though I fear Chloe is about to get her heart broken because Rachel’s intentions are still really unclear.

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That’s some cruel foreshadowing

The best part was by far when while trying to make a getaway with Rachel, Chloe finds herself sitting down to dinner with Rachel and her parents. We get a hands on look at Rachel’s home life which is beginning to crack and this is taking its toll on Rachel. Finally, after a confrontation with her father where the backtalk gimmick found it’s groove, an insane revelation was made. The lady who James Amber was cheating with is actually Rachel’s mother. Makes sense, they look a lot alike.

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“And that woman was definitely not my mom”- Rachel, episode 1

After that bombshell, I am absolutely psyched for the next episode. What exactly is going on with Rachel and her family? Is Damon going to come after us? Will Chloe finally dye her hair because it looks too similar to Max’s right now and this gets confusing?

Life is Strange: Before the Storm- Episode 1 talk

Warning: Life is Spoilers

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Oh Arcadia Bay, I have missed you. Two years ago Life is Strange was released, a game that will make you cry with its emotional story and cringe with its hella awkward dialogue. It was great, though had an ending that over time I realised I really hated. A sequel is in the works. But before that we’re getting a prequel. Erm…okay?

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Back 2 school

To be honest, I wondered how a prequel without Max and especially without time travel would work. The prequel follows Chloe, Max’s best friend who had a knack of getting into trouble, and also getting herself killed multiple times. How was she even keeping herself alive before Max was around to save her with rewind power? Well, she was hanging out with Rachel Amber. In the previous game, we only saw her through missing posters and then in a heartbreaking scene finding her body buried under the junkyard.

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Before the Storm takes place a few years before Life is Strange. Obviously, there is no time travel in this game, its absence was like having some sort of phantom limb syndrome. Like the previous game, we make choices to advance the story and the choices have consequences. Not being able to rewind to see how each choice plays out was a fun part of the first game so it’s unfortunate we can’t to do that, because Chloe doesn’t possess this power. But she has her own power- her mouth. In this game, there is a feature called Backtalk, where against the clock we must choose comebacks and insults to overcome an obstacle like getting past a bouncer or stop a jock from beating up our favourite sociopath Nathan Prescott. This is not as fun as rewinding time, but it’ll do.

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Backtalk in action

The best part of Life is Strange is of course the story telling and the characters. We see some familiar faces like Nathan, Victoria, and hopefully Kate shows up! Rachel is the popular extroverted girl, who is smart and talented. She seems to have it good, though things are taking a wrong turn. She’s let down by her father and wants to rebel and is bringing in Chloe for the ride. Less than 24 hours together, they end up causing a forest fire, so can expect the next two episodes will be hella madness.

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Storms and fires, Arcadia Bay is getting wrecked like Zack Snyder’s Metropolis

This game was made by different developers. Fear not however, it still had that atmosphere of the first game and I am intrigued to see more of Chloe and Rachel’s adventures.

Death Note talk

The Death Note anime is a brilliant series, that despite not being particularly action packed, was super tense and kept me on the edge of my seat. It weaved in questions on morality and justice against crime and had the best battle of wits between two rivals ever.

This is the second big American remake of a classic anime this year that has fallen flat. Ghost in the Shell was visually stunning but boring. Netflix’s Death Note is arguably better, but that doesn’t mean it’s any good. I definitely didn’t expect a shot for shot remake of the anime, so I admire the film for having it’s own take. However, the changes that were made were so clumsy and awkward. The biggest change was probably the character of Light. He was really miscast. No, not because of whitewashing, I think the debate on that has been exhausted enough. But if you’re gonna hire a white person, why can’t it be someone better, more suited to the role? Light is not supposed to be an outcast loner, in the anime Light Yagami was popular and had a happy family life, which made it great to see a well mannered guy go nutso as Kira. But the way Light Turner is portrayed, you wouldn’t need L’s deductive skills to figure out this very troubled dude was Kira.

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Two Lights, but only one is lit

Speaking of L, they didn’t stray too far in terms of him being strange and having weird sitting positions, but it didn’t matter who they cast or what race he was, no one was going to measure up a character as awesome as L. This version of L was passable enough, but he let his emotions get the better of him. Maybe they were trying to get a mix of L and Mello in the character.

Misa was not included, instead we get Mia. Mia is not as irritating as Misa, but she felt underwritten and the whole love story between her and Light could have been left out, and this would have allowed more room for interplay between Light and L and also exploration of Ryuk who did not get enough screen time.

There were some questionable direction choices that just didn’t fit. The first death was a very Final Destination level of gory. There was also a lot of swearing. I’m not a prude, but it felt like they were trying to make this edgier. This is a story about a boy who finds a magic book which he uses to execute criminals, no further edge is required.

The ending of the film had Ryuk just laughing at Light, or maybe at us. It looks like they could be setting up for a sequel, but I really hope not.

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Do you see a pattern?

Defenders talk

Defend yourself for there be spoilers

In 2012 we got The Avengers (awesome), and then in 2015 we got The Avengers again (meh) and then just last year we got Suicide Squad (*£^404 error). We now turn to Netlix for our next big superhero team up with the Defenders. I had been really looking forward to this even after the letdown that was Iron Fist.

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Luke Cage, Matt Murdoch and Jessica Jones appear to be trying to move on with their lives while Danny is iron fisting his way overseas but then returns to New York. The four come together when they find themselves against a common enemy, the Hand. Apparently Gao was just one finger, there are four others. Five fingers that make the Hand.

The leader of the Hand is Sigourney Weaver’s character. Honestly, she wasn’t that great of an enemy, she is similar to Gao in that she’s very evil in a calm and collected way but Gao just sells it more and is far more sinister. I’m led to believe Gao survives at the end which would be great. Other fingers include Bakuto, and two new faces Sowande and Murakami. We barely see Sowande before he is killed off. Murakami does this thing where he only responds in Japanese while others speak English, reminding me of Beat Takeshi’s character in Ghost in the Shell who was one of the highlights in an otherwise disastrous film.

Elektra who died in Season 2 of Daredevil is resurrected, and the scene where she is brought back to life was really unsettling, what exactly was she marinated in? She is reborn as the Black Sky whose only purpose is to serve the hand, and all trace of who Elektra was in the past life is gone. Except it isn’t, she pretty quickly remembers her relationship with Matt which makes her go rogue against the Hand. She does seriously eff up anyone who comes in her way, but just wasn’t compelling enough as other main villains like Fisk, Kilgrave and Cottonmouth.

 

Alexandra’s cape had more personality than Alexandra

The best thing by far was the interactions between the four heroes, whether they were working cooperatively together or, fighting each other, and boy do they disagree a lot. The scenes with Danny and Luke were especially a joy to watch, Danny’s was like a naive little brother to Luke’s cool, laid back older brother dishing out some wisdom. In one import scene, Luke calls out Danny on his privilege, which just felt so much more powerful than any punches that they had thrown at each other. Jessica provides her trademark snark as they get further into ridiculously dangerous situations. Matt is the character I feel the most for, as he struggles to keep his Daredevil identity separate from his normal life.

This was a solid beginning to the Defender’s series, albeit lacking a good enough main villain and the final showdown was a little messy. It looks like we’re also getting a Punisher series which looks really intense and violent, I guessing there won’t be lot of humorous one-liners from that show.

Degrassi Next Class Season 4 Talk

Warning- spoilers

A few months ago a little show called 13 Reason Why was released on Netflix and boy did it divide opinions. Some say it rightly brought awareness to suicide while others thought it glorified it. Trying to bring awareness to a sensitive issue such as suicide is super tricky, you don’t want to depict it in a way that might encourage people who are on the edge yet you don’t want to water down the portrayal of the internal struggles that people go through that cause them to take drastic actions.

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Man, this is getting heavy, shall we move on to something lighter? Degrassi, yes Season 4 of Degrassi Next Class is now on Netflix. Except they also had a plot related to suicide, along with that there was also stuff on terrorism, gender identity, threesomes and the most insane thing- a talent show episode where the winner was a symphony of farts. Yeah, I guess that deserved to win.

In the first episode Yael is worried about going on a bouncy castle. I first assumed this is because she was worried about her wig coming off, but she actually was worried about a different body part. She is going through a growth spurt and REALLY does not like it and starts wearing a binder, which I have a no idea how that could be comfortable, and I’m a pancake. Yael becomes less attached to being a specific gender, so they stop shaving and get a makeover to look not completely like a dude but not a girl.  Good for Yael. Of course, this confuses Hunter, who is probably gonna become alt-right by the next season.

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Hey, you (yes, this pronoun still applies)

Esme gets into Havard, somehow. But it’s all downhill from there. Clearly still troubled over finding Maya on the roof, she becomes erratic. She tries to keep Zig away from Maya by stripping for Saad to make him jealous. Then she invites Frankie the Nutjob for a three way. Then she pretends to be dying, and then calls in a fake bomb threat. Not finished, after all that she tries to win Zig back with a motorcyle. Prior to that she had pushed him into a ditch.

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So it’s gonna be forever, or it’s gonna go down in flames

Miles has an interesting story line where he is considered for some writing programme, but for a diversity spot. Miles. Rich, male,white, maybe bi Miles. Encouraged by his black teacher. Hey, it’s a nice subversion.

Poor Saad, ousted from his country by terrorists to come to Canada to then be accused of being a terrorist, one of the accusers being Hunter. You know, the guy who brought a gun to school to shoot up the feminist club. At least he gets a friend in Lola. Goldi also is affected from fallout of a terror attack in Belgium, but at least she gets a friend in… Winston? Okay, I will admit they are pretty cute together.

We say goodbye to Maya, Zig, Tiny, Miles, Grace, Winston, Zoe, Goldi and Jonah as they graduate and then are beamed up to a spaceship ready to be disassembled and reassembled into new characters. Kidding, they’re just going to university and then get in to debt. Or maybe not, I have no idea what tuition fees are like in Canada.