by Rafihat Banjo
“Whatever it takes, I know I can make it through.”
Degrassi Community School. The iconic gold and blue. Who could forget? The iconic theme song. Each season in “Degrassi: The Next Generation” had a slightly different rendition. The Canadian accents. I’m still waiting for a teen drama series to top “Degrassi.”
The Franchise “Degrassi” created by Kit Hood and Linda Schuyler dates back to the late 70s. “Degrassi” is a Canadian teen drama series that delves into topics like drugs, sexuality, gender identity, teenage pregnancy, relationships, abuse, and mental health.
The franchise starts off with “The Kids Of Degrassi Street,” which premiered in 1979 through 1986. The second series was “Degrassi Junior High,” which premiered between 1987 and 1989. “Degrassi Junior High” is a sequel of “Degrassi High” and follows characters from “Degrassi Junior High” into high school. Thus, “Degrassi High” was created. “Degrassi High” went on for two years, from 1989 through 1991. After “Degrassi High,” “Degrassi: The Next Generation” was created, which ran for 14 years starting in 2001 and ending in 2015. Later, the franchise got picked up by Netflix and aired its last series, “Degrassi: Next Class,” from 2016 to 2017. Unfortunately, the series got canceled and wasn’t renewed for a fifth season.
Recently, there was a 20th anniversary Degrassi reunion panel, where actors from “Degrassi: The Next Generation” were able to talk and catch up. There were even talks about wanting a “Degrassi” reboot from old cast members.
I specifically want to touch and talk on “Degrassi: The Next Generation” and “Degrassi: Next Class” because those are the series that I remember being excited to watch and being able to fully resonate with.
To say the least, the “Degrassi” franchise was iconic, especially to the Canadian and American teen demographic. “Degrassi” paved the way for a lot of teen drama series. I’ve been a huge fan of “Degrassi” since 2009, and the only regret I have about this show was not watching it sooner!
“Degrassi” was able to touch on many sensitive topics that weren't normalized yet in mass media. Some teen drama series briefly touch on sensitive and mature topics such as sexual assault, STDs and STI, and relationship abuse. Other TV shows don’t even touch on those topics at all. So, it’s refreshing when you see a teen drama series doing something that isn’t normally done before.
A lot of kids and teens who grew up watching “Degrassi” were able to relate to the characters on a personal level. Here are 3 reasons why teens of today are getting addicted to “Degrassi”:
1. The characters are so personable and relatable
Almost every character in “Degrassi: The Next Generation” and “Degrassi: Next Class” has a character arc or some type of character development. They could literally be the worst character in season 1 and literally be molded into the perfect character by the end of season 5. Since the show is mostly set in a school, most of the issues going on with the students are relatable. Whether it’s sex education, family issues, or gender identity, “Degrassi” covers it!
2. New characters galore!
If you’re anything like me and get bored with the main characters in TV shows quickly, this series is for you! There are always new characters. Each season, there are new characters that join and older characters that graduate. So, there are always new characters to fully invest yourself in. The only downside would be your favorite character graduating or leaving the school.
3. Famous Celebrities
If you have seen “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” you may notice celebrities like Drake and Nina Dobrev were series regulars. Additionally, celebrities like Keke Palmer and Billy Ray Cyrus starred in a few episodes.
All in all, when watching “Degrassi,” you start to learn about topics you were unfamiliar with before because every episode has a lesson. If you haven’t watched “Degrassi,” I highly recommend starting from “Degrassi: The Next Generation.”