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Rumours and Reputations

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"Manny, has Coach Armstrong ever... touched you?"
— Emma inadvertently starts a rumor.

“Rumours and Reputations”
Season 1, Episode 10
Liberty Emma 110
Information
Can. Airdate

January 6, 2002

U.S. Airdate

May 20, 2002

Prod. Code

110

Writer(s)

Myra Fried (teleplay)
Aaron Martin (story)
Yan Moore (story)

Director(s)

Paul Fox

Episode Guide
Previous

Coming of Age

Next

Friday Night

Rumours and Reputations is the tenth episode of the Canadian television series, Degrassi: The Next Generation.

Main Plot

Emma sees Mr. Armstrong's arm around Liberty's shoulders and suspects that there is something "going on" between them. Terri overhears Emma tell Manny about what she saw and a rumour spreads around the school that Mr. Armstrong is a pedophile and that Liberty is being taken advantage of. However, it is revealed that she is getting extra tutoring from Mr. Armstrong for her dyscalculia, a learning disability with numbers.

Sub Plot

Spinner finds an earwig in his cafeteria lunch, but when no one believes him, he decides to boycott the caf and fight fire with fire. In order to prove that there were bugs in his lunch, he collects some of his own and tries to plant them in other students' lunches. Spinner ultimately loses and Sheila the lunch lady punishes him by working as a server in the cafeteria for two months to pay for the cost of extermination the cafeteria now needs.

Extended Overview

One morning, Emma is about to drop something off to Mr. Armstrong, but stops when she looks into his closed room and sees his arm around Liberty. She looks closer in fear and then decides to just head to media immersions class. In the classroom, Emma confronts Liberty and asks her what she and Mr. Armstrong were doing in the math room. Liberty simply says that she had a few questions to ask him and that's all. When Emma continues to try and ask her questions, she tells her to mind her own business.

Outside, a nervous Emma asks J.T. what he thinks of Mr. Armstrong as a person. J.T. says that he feels that Armstrong has been really nice. Emma agrees and says that he's always nice and friendly to everyone. Emma then notices Armstrong walking towards Liberty. He secretly hands her some kind of pink note and Liberty tucks it in her pocket. Emma continues to watch them suspiciously.

Terri 110

Terri overhears Emma telling Manny about Mr. Armstrong and Liberty.

In the hall, she asks Manny if Armstrong has ever touched her. Manny says no and then asks why. Emma tells her that she saw him touching Liberty and that it looked like he was coming on to her. Manny is shocked but then suggests that maybe Emma had the wrong idea. She tells Manny that Mr. Armstrong had his arm around her that morning in the math room and he passed her a note outside. What Emma doesn't know is that while she is telling Manny this, Terri is quietly listening from behind the lockers.

In the cafeteria, Spinner and Jimmy buy their lunch and before going to sit down, Spinner finds an earwig on in his food. He tells Jimmy and the lunch lady, but neither of them believe him. In the hallway, he tells Paige and Ashley. They find it odd how he always complains about the food and now he suddenly finds an earwig in his lunch, indicating that they don't believe him. Frustrated, Spinner then yells out loud, "The cafeteria has bugs! Boycott the caf!" Ms. Kwan walks by and tells Spinner that what he's saying is a serious accusation and that no one will believe him if he doesn't have evidence.

Terri Paige 110

Terri tells Paige about Liberty and unknowingly spreads the rumour.

Meanwhile, in the math classroom, Terri sits down at her desk and nervously watches Mr. Armstrong, who is at the door talking to a student. Paige asks Terri what's wrong and assures her that she could trust her about anything. Feeling overwhelmed, Terri reveals that she overheard Emma telling Manny about how Mr. Armstrong had his hand on Liberty's shoulder. Paige is disgusted and promises Terri that she will keep it to herself. Terri suggests that they report it, but Paige tells her that she can't report a rumour with no proof. Mr. Armstrong finally walks in the room and begins the lesson while Paige text messages Hazel about the rumour on Liberty. She receives Paige's message on her cell phone and looks at her in shock. Paige looks back at Hazel and nods. The rumour is then passed around the school.

In the stairwell, Hazel phones somebody and tells them that Liberty and Mr. Armstrong were seen kissing in his car in front of everyone. Sean happens to be listening from behind the stairs. He goes to Spinner and tells him that Liberty spent the night with Mr. Armstrong and then got a ride in the car with him that morning. Spinner is shocked by this and finds Jimmy. He tells him that Liberty and Armstrong are doing it. Jimmy is surprised and e-mails Ashley during media immersions class. Ashley reads her e-mail from Jimmy that says, "Liberty. Armstrong. Doing it." She is especially horrified by the news and tries to think about how to resolve it.

After a student council meeting, Ashley confronts Liberty about the situation and all the rumours. She explains that people are starting to talk about her and Armstrong being very close and that they're extra friendly. Liberty stares at Ashley in fear and tries to make the statement clear for herself by asking further. Ashley tells her that they think he's doing things to her and then asks if it's true. She answers and says that of course it's not true. Liberty is distraught and quickly runs away in tears. Ashley insists that they report it if the rumour is indeed true.

The next day, the whole school appears to be talking about it, as now Toby and J.T. know and are discussing it with Manny and Emma. Manny asks if it should be reported, but Emma tells her to wait and see if the rumour is indeed true or not. Then, Liberty walks in and everyone stares at her. Embarrassed and horrified, she runs off crying again and into the girls washroom. Emma follows behind and comforts Liberty. She asks her if this rumour is a true fact, but Liberty is frustrated and swears that it isn't real. Emma tells her that in order to make the rumour end they need to track down its source.

Meanwhile, Spinner is still frustrated that no one will believe his witness of an earwig in the cafeteria food. He brings in a plastic container full of earwigs. He shows Jimmy and says that if no one will believe him, he'll plant some of his own bugs in the food, which will result in his ultimate goal of the cafeteria being closed for extermination. Jimmy walks away disgusted.

Elsewhere, Emma confronts Ashley about how Liberty was feeling. Emma tells her how upset Liberty was and then asks who told her about the rumour. Ashley reveals that she heard it from Jimmy, but he heard it from Spinner. Emma runs off and finds Spinner. He tells her that he heard it from Sean, who happened to walk by at that moment. Emma asks Sean why he would start a rumour like that, but Sean tells her that he knew it was fake and that he shouldn't have trusted Hazel. Emma finds Hazel and Paige in the washrooms. Hazel claims that she's innocent and to talk to Paige about it. Paige says that no one can blame her because she heard it from Terri. Emma finally finds Terri at her locker and asks why would she tell Paige about Liberty and Mr. Armstrong. Terri simply says because she was nervous and didn't know what to do or who to talk to about it. Emma angrily thanks her for all the trouble she has caused and starts walking away, but is stopped when Terri tells Emma that it's not her fault. Emma turns around and reminds Terri that she started the rumour. Terri says that it wasn't her, but Emma who actually started it, after Terri overheard her talking to Manny behind the lockers.

Spinner Sheila 110

Spinner is forced to work at the cafeteria to pay for the cost of extermination.

In the cafeteria, Jimmy asks Spinner if he's really going to go through with his plan to boycott the lunchroom. Spinner says that this is war and prepares to plant his container of earwigs in the lunch's. They sit down next to Ashley. She greets them and looks away, while Spinner drops some of his earwigs on her lunch. She looks down on her plate and screams in disgust. Spinner says that no one will believe him, but they will believe Ashley. She is horrified and asks Spinner what's in his yellow container. He tries to tuck it away, but Ashley grabs it and opens the lid to find it full of earwigs. She screams again and drops it onto her plate, releasing all of them over the table.

Liberty and Emma walk into Mr. Armstrong's math class. He starts his lesson on equations and the BEDMASS rules. He asks the class if they know what the acronym stands for. When no one raises their hand, he asks Liberty, which causes the class to start laughing. Mr. Armstrong angrily tells them to stop. Just then, Mr. Raditch walks in and asks to speak to Liberty and Armstrong, while his secretary supervises the class. Emma gears for Liberty and quickly follows them down to the office.

In main office, Emma finds Liberty sitting in a chair waiting outside Mr. Raditch's room. She tells Liberty that she has to talk to Mr. Raditch about the situation. When Mr. Armstrong and him come out of the room, Emma steps up and tells Mr. Raditch that she needs to confess something to him. He tells her that they're in the middle of something, but Emma says that she's involved in it.

Back in the cafeteria, Spinner is faced with his punishment for what happened at lunch. It turns out that he now has to work in the kitchen and at the counter as a server to pay off the cost of the extermination the cafeteria now needs. Sheila dresses him in his cafe uniform and hairnet. Spinner hesitantly puts them on in embarrassment. Jimmy and Ashley walk by, but stop upon seeing Spinner in his hairnet. They both leave laughing at him. Sheila tells him to get used to the uniform as he will be working at the cafe for the next two months for owing them $300.

Emma Lib 110

Emma tries to apologize to Liberty for starting the rumour about her.

Meanwhile, back in the washroom, Emma finds Liberty quietly sitting in the stall. She tries to explain that she was indeed responsible for the rumour starting but she did not spread it. Liberty angrily says that it doesn't make a difference and then furiously asks why Emma would think she would do something like that with Mr. Armstrong. Emma curiously asks what he was doing with her after she saw him put his arm around her and pass her a note. Liberty slips out her note and shows it to Emma. She opens up the folded note and reads the top line that says, Dyscalculia. Liberty explains that it's a learning disorder that's similar to dyslexia but with numbers and that Mr. Armstrong was simply helping and comforting her. Emma asks why she didn't just saying something. Liberty sadly says because she was embarrassed and having dyscalculia makes her feel stupid. Emma tells her that she's one of the smartest kids in school and who cares about what the kids think. Liberty says that she didn't tell anyone because it's important to her to be the best that she can be. Emma apologizes and offers her help, but Liberty angrily tells her to go back to her environmental causes and protests because she had already caused enough damage.


  • This is the first episode that is not named after any songs, films or books.
  • This episode marks the first appearance of Hazel Aden and Sheila in their recurring roles.
  • The character featured in the final freeze frame for this episode is Emma (third time).
  • There is no soundtrack or music featured in this episode.
  • This episode is what inspired the name of the website Boycott the Caf.
  • In the scene where Manny and Emma are talking at the lockers, Manny's hair ties are together, but in the next scene, they're spaced apart.
  • The order in which the rumour was spread was:
  • Some characters were never told about the rumour or never spread it around:
    • Manny, Toby and J.T. never spread the rumour to anyone.
    • Toby and J.T. were never told about the rumour and obviously found out off-screen.
    • Sean and Terri were also never told about the rumour. They both overheard about it from others.
  • When Sheila said "It might take a few extra years but, I can't wait for you to graduate." It is possibly foreshadowed that Spinner repeats 11th grade, because he was expelled for his involvement with the School Shooting in Time Stands Still (2).

  • Emma: (Talking to J.T.) "What do you think of Armstrong as a person?"
    J.T: "Teachers aren't people. They're teachers."
  • Emma: (Talking to Manny) "This morning, I saw him put his arm around Liberty and pass her a note outside. It really looked like he was coming on to her."
    (Terri listens from behind the lockers).
  • Terri: (Talking to Paige) "You know, Liberty. That kid in grade seven. I heard Armstrong was coming onto her."
    Paige: "Ugh. Eww. You're kidding, right?"
    Terri: "No. I overheard Emma. She saw him with his arm around her and then he passed her a love note."
  • (Paige text messages Hazel about Liberty and Armstrong).
    (Scene cuts to Hazel walking down the stairs).
    Hazel: (Talking on her phone) "Liberty and Armstrong were seen kissing, in his car, in front of everybody."
    (Sean listens from behind the stairwell)
    (Scene cuts to Sean and Spinner)
    Sean: "She got a ride with him this morning. Do you think they spent the night together? How could Coach Armstrong do that?"
    (Spinner shakes his head)
    (Scene cuts to Spinner in the hall)
    Spinner: (Walking over to Jimmy) "Dude. Liberty and Armstrong are doing it."
    (Scene cuts to Jimmy in media immersion room)
    (Jimmy e-mails Ashley)
    (Ashley reads an e-mail that says, "Liberty. Armstrong. Doing it.")
  • Ashley: (Talking to Liberty) "Do you even know what's going on?"
    (Liberty stares at her confused)
    Ashley: "People are starting to talk about you and Armstrong, that you're pretty close."
    Liberty: "What does that mean?"
    Ashley: "They think you're extra friendly."
    Liberty: "What?! They think he's doing things to me?"
    Ashley: "Yes. Is it true?"
    Liberty: "Of course not!" (Runs away crying)
  • Emma: "Liberty, I'm really sorry. Is there anything I can do to help?"
    Liberty: "No, Emma? Go back to saving rainforests and whales because when it comes to people, you suck!"


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