"Hi, my name's Paige, and of course Ashley's gonna win today. Sure some students may resent her for being so perfect, but Ashley always gets what she wants so why should today be any different? Actually, I'll tell you why today should be different. See, I just got these brand new glasses and I think they look rather nice with my outfit, don't you? Oh, and my belt, please get a close up on the belt, thanks. Beautiful, eh? And my new purse, so everyone can see all what I own, what do I have in here [pulls out a Twix bar] this... this isn't mine [camera man starts walking away] Hello, I'm not done here!"
Family Politics is the third episode of the Canadian television series, Degrassi: The Next Generation.
On the first day of school, Ashley has her sights set on running for student council president. Her new stepbrother, Toby, is annoyed by their awkward new living situation as stepsiblings and is frustrated by her unchallenged status for student council president. He convinces J.T. to run against her as a joke. When J.T. starts to receive more attention than Ashley thought he would get, she takes dirty actions to ensure that she can win.
Emma and Manny deal with Spinner and Jimmy's bullying and teasing on the first day of school. The seventh graders are also put in Mr. Simpson's homeroom class, while the eighth graders are put in Ms. Kwan's class. Furthermore, Paige comes to Degrassi with a hot new look for the new school year in an attempt to really boost her popularity. She even thinks about starting a Spirit Squad for the school's pep rallies. Liberty runs in the election for secretary and Ashley's assistant.
Ashley is in her bedroom, talking to Terri on the phone about how excited she is for the upcoming school year and that they were going to make it the best one ever. She quickly hangs up to work on her school election posters and get ready for school.
Ashley tries to get into her bathroom, but Toby is already in it. She asks him to get out so she can get ready. Toby refuses to leave and says that he just got there. The two then argue and it is discovered they are not biological siblings, but are forced to cohabitate because their parents (Ashley's mother and Toby's father) are living together. Ashley yells at Toby once again to exit the bathroom so she can get ready for school, so he ultimately makes fun of her by coming out and wearing her bra, before she screams, "MOM!"
On the first day of school, Toby is complaining about Ashley to J.T. He thinks she resents him and treats him like an unwanted houseguest because he and his dad were currently living in her and her mother's house.
Meanwhile, Ashley is complaining to Terri about how annoying Toby is while she's putting up her campaign posters. They run into Paige and she mentions that she hadn't seen them all summer. They look at her clothes while Paige states, "New year, new look, new Paige." She then notices that Ashley is posting up her campaign posters and says how typical it is that she's putting them up on the first day of school, rather than focusing on her appearance.
Emma and Manny walk into school for the first time and run into two 8th graders, Jimmy and Spinner. They pick on the girls by demanding they have a hall pass or otherwise leave. The two guys laugh it off and point out that the 7th graders are losers. Emma and Manny ignore them and meet up with Toby, J.T. and Liberty at their new homeroom. They then meet their homeroom and media immersion teacher Mr. Simpson (Snake). Elsewhere, the 8th graders (Ashley, Terri, Paige, Jimmy and Spinner) meet their homeroom teacher Ms. Kwan. She commends Ashley for starting her presidential campaign so early on in the year, much to Ashley's pride and Paige's dismay.
After homeroom class, Emma, Manny, Toby and J.T. notice Ashley's campaign posters in the hallway. Toby is frustrated that no one is running against her, and asks J.T. if he would run a joke campaign as a way to make her sweat. J.T. refuses and says that it is only his first day at Degrassi and no one would vote for him. Toby then says that it was the perfect way to practice gaining fame if wanted to be famous one day. J.T. smiles and agrees, but makes Toby promise that he will do all the work.
While Ashley and Terri are putting up her posters, Liberty interrupts Ashley and introduces herself. She mentions that she is running for secretary and would like to discuss the lack of school newspapers at Degrassi, but Ashley suggests that they wait until after the election. Meanwhile, Toby is in the media immerison room and making flyers and posters for J.T. He begins printing them until Mr. Simpson tells him they cost 10 cents a copy.
Ashley and Terri walk down the hall and catch Toby putting up posters. Ashley notices that it has J.T.’s name on them. She does not take his nomination seriously and tells Toby that he and J.T. are wasting their time since school presidents are always eighth graders. Toby says that it will change this year and then mocks Ashley, claiming that she is simply afraid of having a little competition.
Meanwhile, J.T. begins his campaign, saying he will do what a real politician would do, "Absolutely nothing!" Ashley starts her campaign as well, addressing real issues such as starting a recycling program and getting the school a nighttime dance. Her frustration begins when she sees that people are starting to pay attention to J.T.'s speeches, mainly because he's so funny. Ashley watches J.T. in annoyance, while Toby smiles with great satisfaction.
At home, Ashley confronts Toby for helping run J.T.'s campaign. She angrily says that he doesn’t even care about the school, but Toby reminds her that anyone can run and that Degrassi does not revolve around just her. Ashley's mom, Kate, walks in to try and break up the fight, but an upset Ashley claims that she put all her efforts into running and Toby is ruining it. At first, Kate thinks that Toby is running against Ashley, until they reveal that it’s not Toby, but J.T. Ashley says that it is not fair because she feels that Toby is only doing this to annoy her, but Kate tells her that Toby has every right to help run his friend's campaign. Naturally, that upsets Ashley because she feels her mom is always taking Toby's side.
The next day, Toby and J.T. check his statistics and voting polls on the school computer. Toby is excited when he sees that J.T. has more support then Ashley, with 52% of the votes. However, J.T. is unhappy and reminds Toby that the only reason they did this was to make Ashley sweat and if he were to win, he would have to work very hard on helping the school.
J.T. is at his locker, when suddenly, Jimmy and Spinner forcefully grab him and drag him to the gymnasium changeroom where Ashley is waiting. She offers a bribe of fifty dollars for J.T. to quit the race for school president. J.T. makes up a joking excuse to not accept the money, and says that his parents will be crushed if he lost. She continues to raise her offer to sixty and even to sixty-five, but when J.T. doesn’t give in, she finally promises eighty dollars. J.T. finally agrees, but Ashley only gives him half of the money. She promises him the rest when he comes through with his end of the deal and quits the election in front of the entire school.
Meanwhile, in the hallway, Emma and Manny attempt to avoid Jimmy and Spinner again. However, Spinner sneaks up from behind them and blows a spitball at Manny, making her cry. Emma comforts Manny and tells Spinner to go away. Terri gets mad at him for it and he then feels guilty and leaves. It turns out that Manny was fake crying all along, only to make Spinner stop.
Toby soon finds out about the bribe and goes to J.T. to tell him that it’s wrong. J.T. reminds Toby that the only reason that they did this was to make Ashley nervous and then offers to split the bribe money with him. Toby says that all he wants is for Ashley not get everything she wants.
As the election begins, J.T. gives his speech to the students, while Toby comes by the gym and calls Ashley into the hallway. Toby confronts Ashley outside and tells her that he is aware that she bribed J.T. into withdrawing from the election. He threatens to tell the school about her bribing him into quitting, but Ashley points out that J.T. accepted her money. Toby then says with a smile, that J.T. accepted that as evidence to show to the school. Ashley glares at Toby in fear. She then says that her life is already a disaster and that he might as well make it worse. Toby asks why Ashley would say that and she tells him that he gets all the attention at home and that her mom cares more about him than anything. Toby denies it, but Ashley claims its true, and because she feels that Toby has now stolen everything she had at home, she wants the one thing that he couldn't take away from her, being school president.
Back inside the gym, J.T. finishes his speech and signs off by saying that he has officially quit the race for school president and tells the students to vote for Ashley. Mr. Raditch asks J.T. if he is sure about his decision and he nods in agreement. Ashley is then called to the stage. Out in the hall, she continues to beg Toby not to tell the school about her bribing J.T. Toby sighs and agrees.
Later, Jimmy walks Ashley home from school at the end of the day and congratulates her on winning the election, proving that she had got what she wanted. Ashley arrives on the porch alone to find Toby sitting at the patio table. He disappointingly congratulates her on winning and apologizes about what he had tried to set up with J.T. They soon both realize that as long as they're living in the same house, they have to at least try and get along better. Toby smiles and nods in agreement. The two suddenly both notice that they were momentarily bonding nicely together, probably for the first time.
- This episode is not named after any song in particular, but it is feasible that it is named after the song by the music group Bad Religion, that have a song simply called "Politics".
- This episode marks the first appearances of the following four main characters:
- As of this episode, Daniel Clark (Sean Cameron) is the only regular cast member that has not yet made an appearance. He will make his first appearance in the following episode.
- This episode also marks the first appearance of Kate Kerwin and Ms. Kwan in recurring roles.
- Nigel Hamer (Jeff Isaacs) is credited in this episode, but does not appear.
- Although Ms. Kwan appears in this episode, she is uncredited.
- Oscar also makes his first appearance in this episode, but he is uncredited. His actor has no any given credit until the episode, Coming of Age.
- The character featured in the final freeze frame for this episode was Toby (first time).
- There was no music featured in this episode.
- Manny mentions that her unreal crying always works on her brother. This is the last we ever hear of her having any siblings, as none appear or are heard of in later episodes.
- J.T. also mentions he has a brother. This is the last time we hear of his brother, as in a few episodes later, we hear about his alleged sister.
- At the beginning of the episode, J.T. has a scooter but in the following shot he doesn't.
- It is stated that Spinner's middle name is Reginald.
- Paige wears the same red "Hottie" midriff-revealing top in the Season 1-2 intro and promotional photos.
- Family Politics was the first episode to air on The N in the United States.
Regular Cast (Ordered alphabetically)
- Sarah Barrable-Tishauer as Liberty Van Zandt
- Stefan Brogren as Archie Simpson
- Lauren Collins as Paige Michalchuk
- Ryan Cooley as J.T. Yorke
- Jake Goldsbie as Toby Isaacs
- Aubrey Graham as Jimmy Brooks
- Shane Kippel as Spinner Mason
- Miriam McDonald as Emma Nelson
- Melissa McIntyre as Ashley Kerwin
- Christina Schmidt as Terri MacGregor
- Cassie Steele as Manny Santos
- Dan Woods as Principal Raditch
- Nigel Hamer as Jeff Isaacs (credit only)
- Linlyn Lue as Ms. Laura Kwan (uncredited)
- Maria Ricossa as Kate Kerwin
- Ashley: (Bangs on bathroom door) "Toby, out."
Toby: "How do you know it’s me? It could be your mom, could be my dad."
Ashley: "They have their own bathroom."
Toby: "Then, go use it. I just got here."
Ashley: "Toby, come on, be reasonable. I have to get to school to put up my election posters."
Toby: "Aren’t you the only one running?" (opens the cabinet and sees Ashley’s bra hanging on the shower in the reflection on the mirror) Ashley: "Toby, remember what Dr. Fried said? - a generous attitude makes for a generous family. Now, get out the bathroom, now! Toby, what will it take you to open that door?"
Toby: "Just say please."
Toby: (While fixing his hair) "Now say, Toby Isaacs is the coolest kid at Degrassi. Way, way cooler than any stupid grade 8 could ever hope to be."
Ashley: "Toby, I have to get something?"
Toby: "Get what? Your hairbrush? Your eyeliner? Your… (opens the door with her bra on) training bra?"
- Toby: (Walking to Degrassi) "Just ‘cause me and dad move in to their house, Ashley treats me like…"
J.T.: "Dirt? Gum stuck on her shoe?"
Toby: "All of the above."
- J.T.: "If elected, I, J.T. Yorke will do what a real politician would do - absolutely nothing."
Ashley: "I can't believe people are actually listening to him."
Terri: "He's pretty funny... if you like totally immature humour."
- Paige: "New year, new look, new Paige."
- Kwan: "Gavin Reginald Mason."
- Spinner: "I prefer Spinner."
- Kwan: "This year, am I going to have to give you, what was it, another 14 detentions?."
- Spinner: "Not if you don't want to."