You painted broccoli...

Michelle's art teacher, critiquing Michelle's picture of a "tree"

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"Better Than This" is the 23rd episode in Season 2 of The Next Step and the 53rd overall. It aired on October 17, 2014.


James gets his driver's license for Riley's list.


Riley and Emily are talking about the list when James enters. He pulls Riley aside and tells her that he does not want to complete #9: get a driver's license. Riley tells James that he wants him to substitute his long-kept learner's permit for a driver's license so that he can take her on a real date in a car, as opposed to a bus. However, in Talking Heads, James says he doesn't see the point in getting his license as his mum, Deborah, can drive the pair of them, although he eventually decides that he'll do it.

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The driving instructor speaks to James.

At the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) test centre, James gets a very "wound-up" driving instructor who James is sure will fail him.

A-Troupe is watching a group of Irish dancers that Chloe brought in, which Giselle particularly enjoys due to her Irish roots. After the performance, Giselle asks Thalia how Michelle is doing, and she reveals that Michelle has joined both her school debate team and improv classes. Meanwhile, Michelle is painting in her art class. The teacher approaches her and dubs her painting as one of broccoli, despite it being of a tree.

At Culture Shock, Amanda approaches West about how he found the costumes. He repeats his previous alibi about embracing his inner raccoon, but eventually admits that Emily mentioned something about the garbage. Amanda realizes that she can't trust Emily.

James is at the DMV test centre with Riley, waiting for the driving instructor. Since James is nervous, Riley tells him that if he passes his test, she will pay for him to take her to the drive-in movies. Deborah comes then and tries to give him some positive reinforcement. The driving instructor, still as highly-strung as he was the day before, enters the test area.

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The driving instructor sings during the driving test.

At school, Michelle is at debate club practice. Thalia comes to watch her, and realizes that she is a really good debater. After Michelle speaks, Thalia overhears a team member ask Michelle if she'd like to be on the team and debate that very night (as a previous member sprained her esophagus) and grows worried when Michelle excitedly accepts. James is taking his test, and despite the fact that he thinks he is doing well, the driving instructor is being unnecessarily critical. All of a sudden, the instructor turns on the radio and begins singing terribly.

At Culture Shock, Thalia tells Giselle, Chloe, Eldon, Hunter, and West about Michelle and the debate club situation. Chloe suggests that they all go to Michelle's debate that night and seeing how much they support her, she'll wish to return.

James's test comes to its end, and he is shocked to be told he has failed. James asks him why, and the instructor tells him it was because he was not on the right pitch when he sang along with him. James protests, because such a factor had nothing to do with the driving, and realizing he is right, the instructor passes him. James asks him if he can do him a favour. Meanwhile, Riley and Deborah are waiting outside. James and the instructor exit the car, and the instructor lies to Riley and Deborah that James failed his driving test and will be unable to drive again for two years. This upsets Deborah and Riley alike, but he soon assures them that it was merely a joke and that James did, in fact, pass. Relieved at hearing this, Riley and Deborah give James a hug.

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Michelle greets the dancers.

Michelle's debate is coming to a start, when A-Troupe comes to support her. They are disappointed to find out that Michelle is very good at it and has no intention of returning to the studio.


  • Giselle is of Irish descent.
  • Michelle is poor at drawing.
  • Michelle is very good at debating.


Cultural references

  • The title refers to a song of the same name by Hunter Hayes.






Featured music

Riley season 3 wtm i'll "I'll get to you when I get to you!" - The missing information in this section of the article is to be added.


Main article: Better Than This/Quotes


Main article: Better Than This/Aftershow


Kathy Riley season 3 episode 13 "Look at that painting!"

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