Thursday, January 8, 2015

Case Study No. 1764: Karen Avery

Degrassi High 1x15 Stressed Out
Degrassi is a Canadian drama that follows the lives of a group of teenagers who lived on or near De Grassi Street in Toronto, Ontario. The four main series are The Kids of Degrassi Street, Degrassi Junior High, Degrassi High and Degrassi: The Next Generation. The early Degrassi series were produced by the small production company owned by Kit Hood and Linda Schuyler, Playing With Time Inc.
Tags: Degrassi High Degrassi Street The Kids of Degrassi Street All episodes Degrassi Degrassi Junior High
Added: 10 months ago
From: DegrassiCollection
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[scene opens with three teenage girls talking to each other in the halls of Degrassi High School]
MAYA: Are you ready for English?
CAITLIN: I hope so, I studied really hard!
DIANA: I hate final exams!
CAITLIN: I know, me too ... I can't wait 'til this year's over!
[the one holding a stack of books stops in front of the school library]
CAITLIN: I gotta drop these books off to Miss Avery. I'll see ya in there.
MAYA: Okay, goodbye!
[cut to inside the library, where the female librarian (long dark hair in a ponytail, pearl necklace, blue blouse, long grey skirt) is reading a piece of paper]
CAITLIN: Hi, Miss Avery.
[she puts her books down on the ocunter, but the librarian doesn't look up]
CAITLIN: I searched my whole room, I'm positive these are all the books I have left.
[she smiles, but the librarian still won't look at her]
KAREN: Leave them on the counter.
CAITLIN: [pause] Something wrong?
KAREN: No ...
[the student doesn't move, so the librarian finally looks up from the paper and snaps at her]
KAREN: What are you staring at?
[the student gets a confused look on her face, slightly backing away]
CAITLIN: Nothing.
KAREN: Well, what're you standing there for? Go on, get outta here!
[the student is confused at her behavior, but the librarian keeps yelling]
KAREN: Get out!
[the student finally turns to leave, but before exiting the library, she looks back and sees the librarian angrily crumple up the piece of paper]


[the three girls exit their classroom]
DIANA: My last exam! I'm free!
MAYA: Me too! Thank goodness for exemptions!
[they look over at Caitlin, who doesn't appear to share their enthusiasm]
MAYA: You're finished too, right?
[she suddenly looks over, as if she hadn't been paying attention]
CAITLIN: What? Oh yeah, right ... Sorry.
MAYA: This doesn't thrill you?
[they stop outside of the library, where Miss Avery can been seen through the glass]
CAITLIN: Of course it thrills me ... It's just Miss Avery. I've never seen her act like that before.
MAYA: She's probably just stressed out. Everyone gets stressed this time of year.
CAITLIN: Maybe ... I just hope nothing's wrong.
DIANA: Let's go clean out our lockers!
[Maya gives her a funny look]
DIANA: It has to be done sometime. And ...
[she pulls a garbage bag out of her purse]
DIANA: I brought garbage bags!
MAYA: Okay, but it won't be pretty!
[the two laugh and head off, but Caitlin lingers behind and looks at the librarian]


[the girls are cleaning out their lockers, when Caitlin pulls out a moldy sandwich in a zip-lock bag]
CAITLIN: Oh, yuck!
DIANA: Oh, gross!
MAYA: What is that?
[she laughs]
CAITLIN: I don't know, but it's been in here since January at least!
MAYA: It's an alien life form!
[Diana looks at the bag and begins speaking in a robotic voice]
DIANA: We are Earth people, we will not harm you!
[they all laugh, then Caitlin sniffs the bag]
CAITLIN: Mmm, yum!
[she throws the bag at Diana]
[she throws the bag at Maya]
MAYA: Ugh!
[they all laugh]
MAYA: You guys have to come up to my cottage again this summer.
DIANA: Definitely!
[Caitlin looks in her locker, then gets a sad look on her face]
CAITLIN: Oh no ...
DIANA: Another alien?
[she pulls out some books]
CAITLIN: No, more library books ... I'll be right back, guys.
[she gets up and leaves, then cut to inside the library where Miss Avery is speaking sternly to a group of students]
KAREN: I want all books back by Friday. Is that understood?
[one of the students rolls his eyes]
DWAYNE: Relax, don't have a bird ...
KAREN: I don't like your tone, young man ...
[the student suddenly looks nervous, but then just gets sarcastic while backing out of the library]
DWAYNE: Oh, sorry ... Sorry, Miss Avery! Please don't suspend me! Sorry!
[he laughs, as the students all leave, while the librarian shakes her head and throws her pen down on the counter]
KAREN: What a system ...
[Caitlin passes them as they leave, and tries to just leave her books on the counter without drawing Miss Avery's attention, but the librarian looks up and stops her before she can sneak away]
KAREN: Caitlin ... I'm sorry that I snapped at you earlier. I-I guess I was pretty upset.
[she pauses]
KAREN: I won't be back next year.
CAITLIN: W-Why not?
[the librarian sighs and shakes her head]
KAREN: Don't ask me, ask the school board ... All I wanted was a chance to teach. I did everything they asked, I bent over backwards, and this is the thanks I get.
CAITLIN: [pause] They fired you?
[the librarian doesn't seem to have heard her question, instead looking off into the distance while placing her hand under her chin]
KAREN: Well, I have had it up to here ... with a board that doesn't care, and kids that don't listen!
[she starts slamming books shut on the counter]
KAREN: I'll find something else to do with my life, I ...
[she stops and looks at Caitlin]
KAREN: I won't be treated this way.
[she takes one of the books and walks away, while Caitlin exits the library, then cut to the three girls talking]
MAYA: Is she really upset?
CAITLIN: Well, wadda you think? I mean, how would you feel?
DIANA: Poor Miss Avery, without her help I never would've passed French last year.
CAITLIN: I know, she's helped everyone! It's so stupid, they fire her but they keep Fogey Fogerty, he's terrible!
DIANA: We should get her a present.
MAYA: How about a surprise party?
DIANA: Good idea!
CAITLIN: Sure, but we should do more than that ...
MAYA: Like what?
CAITLIN: Like fight ... What if we wrote a letter of protest? We'd get lots of signatures, and we'd take it to the board and show them she deserves a job!
MAYA: Another petition?
CAITLIN: It's not a petition, it's a letter of protest!
DIANA: Are you sure that's a good idea?
CAITLIN: Yes ... I'll write the letter tonight, then tomorrow I'll make copies and we'll collect signatures. We have to do something!


[Caitlin is going around the cafeteria getting students to sign her letter of protest, when the principal stops her]
DANIEL: What is this petition I'm hearing about?
CAITLIN: It's not a petition, it's a letter of protest. And we've already got thirty five signatures.
[she hands him the clipboard]
DANIEL: "The unfair firing of Miss Avery?"
[he looks around, then takes her aside]
DANIEL: What is this all about?
CAITLIN: They shouldn't fire Miss Avery.
DANIEL: She wasn't fired. The job in the resource centre was for one year, she knew that. Now the regular person is coming back.
CAITLIN: So they should give her another job.
DANIEL: She was offered another job. She turned it down.
CAITLIN: [pause] She turned it down?
[a look of disbelief crosses her face]
CAITLIN: And I was getting people to sign this letter? Th-This is so typical ... I try to help, and I end up looking stupid!
[she storms off, crumpling the petition and throwing it in the garbage]


[Caitlin is walking through the hallway (still upset), when Miss Avery sees her]
KAREN: Caitlin! I heard about the petition ...
CAITLIN: It was a letter of protest.
KAREN: Whatever, I ... It was a nice gesture, and uh, I appreciate it.
CAITLIN: Yeah, right.
[the librarian gives her a confused look]
CAITLIN: Why did you lie to me?
KAREN: I have never lied to you--
CAITLIN: Yes you did! You told me that they fired you, but really they offered you a job and you turned it down!
KAREN: Do you know what that job was? A roving teacher. A teacher without a class, a ... a permanent substitute!
KAREN: So? So I can't accept that! That is not what I want!
CAITLIN: You said all you wanted was a chance to teach!
KAREN: Yes, I wanna teach! With a class of my own! Students of my own! I won't be half a teacher ...
CAITLIN: So you quit teaching because you wanna teach? That makes a lotta sense!
KAREN: [pause] If that's what you think, fine.
[she doesn't respond]
KAREN: Goodbye.
CAITLIN: Goodbye!
[the librarian turns and walks away]


[Miss Avery and the principal are walking down the hallway]
DANIEL: I didn't mean to take you away from what you were doing ... It's just that--
[cut to inside of the library, where another female student (wearing a birthday party hat) is peeking out the door, then ducks back in when she sees them coming]
DOROTHY: [whispers] Here she comes!
[she and the rest of the students hide, as the camera pans out to show a big "Good Bye Ms. Avery!" banner hanging above the door]
DANIEL: [from off camera] I hate to bother you about it ...
[cut back to the librarian and the principal walking towards the door]
KAREN: It wasn't necessary to bring me all the way down there, I could've filled out that form later.
KAREN: You could've mailed it to me.
[he opens the door for her]
DANIEL: I'm sorry Karen, but rules are rules. You know how the system can be.
[she walks in, but is still looking at him (so she doesn't notice the giant banner inches above her head)]
KAREN: Oh yes, the system. The warm, carin--
[she finally notices the banner, then turns around as the students jump up and yell "Surprise!" (with the camera showing the entire library decorated with paper streamers and another "We'll Miss You!" banner)]
KAREN: You knew about this!
[Diana rolls in a big cake, as the librarian smiles and laughs]

[Diana and Maya are presenting Miss Avery with a laminated book carved out of wood, when Caitlin enters the library]
KAREN: It's so lovely, thank you very much!
MAYA: Do you like it?
KAREN: I do.
DIANA: We wanted to find the perfect gift for you!
[she laughs, then looks over and sees Caitlin]
KAREN: Would you hold this for me?
[she hands the wood carving to Diana, then walks over to Caitlin]
CAITLIN: I'm sorry I was rude to you the other day.
KAREN: Don't be. I thought a lot about what you said.
CAITLIN: You mean you're staying?
KAREN: No. I still want my classroom ... but I've contacted a place up north called Rainbow Valley, and they really need teachers up there. I have an interview next week.
CAITLIN: That's great ... I guess.
KAREN: It is, so thank you for helping me.
CAITLIN: [pause] I really helped?
KAREN: Oh yeah.
CAITLIN: [pause] I'm gonna miss you.
KAREN: Oh, I am going to miss you too.
[they hug]



Degrassi High
Season 1 Episode 15
Stressed Out

Aired Monday 8:30 PM Feb 13, 1990 on CBC

Caitlin hears that Ms. Avery has been fired from her job in the school resource centre. When she starts a petition around school, protesting her firing, Mr. Raditch intervenes. He tells Caitlin she was offered a job as a substitute teacher, but turned it down. Caitlin confronts Ms. Avery about this. Ms. Avery explains she wants a classroom of her own with students of her own. They get into an argument, but later reconcile at Ms. Avery's going away party. Also Michelle takes too many caffeine pills and BLT takes her to the school nurse.



Ms. Karen Avery was a former social studies teacher at Degrassi Junior High School. She was portrayed by Michelle Goodeve.

Full Name: Karen Avery
Gender: Female
Hair Color: Black
Job: Teacher, Librarian (former)
Affiliation(s): Degrassi Junior High School, Degrassi High School
First Episode: Kiss Me, Steph
Last Episode: Stressed Out
Portrayed By: Michelle Goodeve

Degrassi Junior High
Everyone thought Ms. Avery was a lesbian in the season 1 episode Rumor Has It. Caitlin starts to have dreams about sitting on her lap and thinks she may be gay too. Ms. Avery turns out to not be gay. She tells Caitlin at the end of the episode she is not but "Would it make any difference if I were? Would you think less of me, Caitlin?" Caitlin smiles and just shakes her head.

Degrassi High
When Degrassi Jr. High Burns down, Ms. Avery luckily scores a job at Degrassi High as the school librarian. She is there for a year when she tells Caitlin she will not be returning the next year. Caitlin assumes she got fired and starts a petition to get the school to give her a job. It turns out that the school did offer her a job as a roving teacher but not a full time class. Caitlin is upset that Avery lied to her. Ms. Avery decides to stick with teaching and scores a job in BFE.



STRESSED OUT: This episode revolves around all the DEGRASSI kids taking final exams. Even though there are three story-lines going on in this episode the only one that's really worth a damn is the one about Michelle being addicted to caffeine pills (It plays a lot like an Affter School Special). In fact, I wish they had devoted the whole half hour to Michelle and given her one or two more Freak Out Scenes....but, alas, the writers threw in a weak B story about Ms Avery leaving DEGRASSI and an even lamer C story about Snake having a "mystery ailment". So Sigh.

So our story begins with Caitlin running into Ms Avery in the Library and Ms Avery being a snippy, hostile shrew. Wow, what's up, Ms Avery's a**? Later on Ms Avery apologizes to Caitlin, telling her that she's being such a b*tch-on-wheels because she "won't be back next year". Caitlin asks Ms Avery if she was FIRED, but instead of answering Caitlin Ms Avery is sort of looking up at the ceiling, rambling on about how she wants to teach and Do the Right Thing and how she can't do what she wants and blah blah blah blah blah.....and she sort of walks away trailing off, never giving Caitlin a "straight" answer, and so Caitlin ASSUMES that Ms Avery was fired.

Caitlin being Caitlin decides to pass around a petition to complain about the "Unfair Firing Of Ms Avery". When Mr Raditch sees the petition he tells Caitlin that DEGRASSI never FIRED Ms Avery and that Ms Avery KNEW when she took the position in The Resource Center at the beginning of the school year that that position was only for a year, because the teacher who she would be replacing would be back the following year. Got that? Caitlin says they should have found Ms Avery ANOTHER position at the school and Mr Raditch tells her that they offered Ms Avery a job as a Substitute Teacher but she turned it down. So Ms Avery is leaving because, well, let's just face it: She's being a difficult b*tch!

Caitlin starts giving Ms Avery The Cold Shoulder. All the other DEGRASSI kids are planning a Surprise Party for Ms Avery and when they ask Caitlin what they should give her as a Going Away Present Caitlin sneers "I don't care what you give her!" (Too bad - cuz they end up giving her a really ugly clock that it looks like one of them made in Wood Shop. I'm sure Caitlin would have gotten her something nice, like a lovely set of HERS and HERS towels). By the end of the episode Caitlin shows up for Ms Avery's Bon Voyage party and Ms Avery tells her that she is moving to a place called "Rainbow Valley" (Rainbow? Gay flag? Ms Avery? The pieces just fall together, don't they?) to teach. Ms Avery and Caitlin hug (hey hey!) and part friends. Ahhhh, Ms Karen Avery, We Barely Knew Yee! (Boring right?)



Q: How did you first learn about the Degrassi auditions, and what made you decide to try out for the role of a junior high school teacher?

I got a call from my acting agent (whose office - amazingly - was on the real De Grassi Street), re: the Degrassi audition. I used to play at being a teacher when I was a little kid. (Thinking back, I suspect it was more the chalk and the blackboard I was interested in...)

Luckily, I just happened to fit the female profile of the type the producers were looking for, along, of course, with a crowd of others.

The audition process was lengthy, several callbacks facing increasing numbers of producers and broadcasters with stress-testing techniques, like, " have three minutes to memorize this page of dialogue."

At first, I didn't really think I had a chance of getting the role, as the main producer seemed so disappointed that I didn't have kids of my own. But when they asked me to write my own monologue, I began to feel more confident. My partner, screenwriter Glenn Norman, and I wrote a piece that summed up what I'd love the character of Ms. Avery to be. When I delivered that speech at the final audition, I saw a bunch of quick smiles flash around the room. We were on the same page re: Avery, and wonder of wonders, I got the part.

That was a great rush of a moment and together, I thought, Degrassi and I could nudge the world a little towards the better... and hopefully we did.

Q: A lot of Degrassi fans strongly associate Ms. Avery with the episode "Rumor Has It", where there are lots of subtle hints that Ms. Avery is a lesbian. When I talked to Dan Woods earlier this year, he said there was a deliberate attempt to keep Mr. Raditch's sexual orientation ambiguous. Was it the same deal with Ms. Avery? The episode leaves it open-ended, but while you were filming it, did you make up your own mind as to whether Avery really was a lesbian or not?

Only Avery knows the honest answer to that question, and she ain't talkin'! ;)

Q: After four seasons, Ms. Avery was a big part of the Degrassi family, and she even got her own special farewell episode "Stressed Out". The series was still doing really well in the ratings, so what made you decide to walk away from Degrassi at that point?

The four years of playing Ms. Avery on two Degrassi series was a real rollercoaster ride. I loved the series and felt the show was great and still doing the job that television, in my view, should be doing: not preaching but telling the truth; exploring the human condition and entertaining at the same time. And while I was pleased to have made the cut to Degrassi High, promises were made to Avery and not kept, so I asked to be written out.

But let's just say, "water under the bridge", and whatever other cliches I can drop here so that I don't have to fully answer that question and disillusion any fans.

I requested a final episode in which the audience at home could bid a fond farewell to our mutually beloved character. The episode "Stressed Out" was my goodbye to Ms. Avery and her Degrassi fans.

Q: I must say, I really enjoyed your performance in that last episode. What was it like playing a mean, bitter version of Ms. Avery for once? And who would you say you're more like in real life, the sweet, polite, touchy-feely Ms. Avery, or the Ms. Avery from hell?

Yikes! "Mean, bitter Avery." Hmm. Seeing those words together gave me a bit of a jolt. As they say in TV, "Bitter doesn't play."

Yan Moore, the series head writer (and a great guy) and I decided Avery could be a little bit tougher on exit than she had been throughout the series. Yan did a great job of writing the episode, and despite a repressed, nagging misgiving that I might be doing Avery a small disservice, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed playing those final scenes.

Karen Avery was the best of me. I used to tell folks that I was her evil twin. ;)

Q: One more question about that episode: your big going away present from the students was a clock, which if I recall correctly was built into a big shellacked hunk of wood carved into the shape of a book. What are the current whereabouts of that prop?

Wow, a never before asked question! Very impressive.

That "hunk of shellacked wood" posing as a clock, though somewhat dusty and not actually ticking, has nevertheless travelled with me from house to house, and currently has pride of place in my country kitchen.

Q: Were you ever asked, or did you ever consider returning for an appearance in later episodes? Was an cameo on Degrassi: The Next Generation ever a possibility? We could have found out that Avery was Raditch's estranged ex-wife or something.

Raditch's estranged wife! Dan Woods and I used to intentionally stir up potential gossip by holding hands while taking the stage during televised Degrassi reunions and such. It would have been fun to explore the possibilities of something extra there...

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