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Before There was Euphoria, There was Degrassi

Trigger warning: This article contains language about sexual assault/abuse, drug abuse and violence that may not be suitable for some readers.

With all the hype surrounding the long-anticipated second season of Euphoria, HBO Max recently announced that Degrassi would be getting a revival on its platform. The Canadian drama gained traction in the 80s with its series Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High. While those characters’ timelines ended with a TV movie in 1992 called “Schools Out,” Degrassi: The Next Generation (TNG) (the one with Drake) premiered in 2001.

TNG followed Emma, who was a result of a teen pregnancy in Junior High as she and her friends navigated Degrassi middle and high school and things like sexuality, drug abuse, eating disorders, sexual assault. While Degrassi may not have had the cool makeup, awesome clothes and overall pleasing aesthetic that Euphoria has, the teens actors were played by actual teens and the plots were just as unhinged, making Degrassi the ultimate OG teen show.

To celebrate its 2023 revival here are my top five times that Degrassi went there:

Emma meets up with “jordan”

In the first episode of TNG, an 11-year-old Emma plans to meet up with her friend Jordan from the Internet who has the same interests as her—he loves the environment, cares about wildlife and seems like he’s a thoughtful middle school boy. But because it’s Degrassi, when Emma meets up with Jordan, he’s an adult man and locks her in a hotel room with him. Luckily before anything can happen, Emma is rescued by trusted adults. Seeing as this is only the first episode of TNG, this plot is comparably lukewarm to what will go down in later seasons.

spinner gets shot

In Season 4, Spinner is partially to blame for his best friend Jimmy (played by Drake) getting shot by Rick, an unstable student who unfortunately had access to a gun. In Season 8, however, karma has its kiss for Spinner when a student from a rivalry school attempts to rob him at his job and accidentally shoots him. He survives and isn’t paralyzed like Jimmy but is still hospitalized at the end of the episode. By Season 11, another major character, Adam, gets shot, but no one really addresses it, because it’s Degrassi and people get shot as often as they drink coffee.

The entirety of eli and clare’s relationship

If you think the Maddy-Nate-Cassie love triangle in Euphoria is a wild ride, Eli and Clare (AKA Eclare) will give you a run for your money. While I could go into extreme detail giving reasons why their relationship is crazy, here is a list of key points to understand the dynamic of Eclare. Their relationship involves: a car accident, breaking up, a play written about Clare, a bipolar disorder diagnosis, dating step siblings, getting back together, finding the body of a dead student, breaking up, getting back together, a cancer diagnosis, cheating, breaking up, a pregnancy, baby daddy confusion, slut-shaming, getting back together, a miscarriage, graduations and a happy ending. It’s a wild ride, and there’s even more where that came from.

craig’s unfortunate timeline

Like Degrassi was the original Euphoria, Craig was the original Eli. When we are introduced to Craig, he’s a nice but unstable teenage boy who lives with an abusive father after his mom’s death. Eventually his father dies too, but that doesn’t alleviate his problems. Throughout the show, Craig cheats on his girlfriend, impregnates the girl he cheated with, gets diagnosed with bipolar disorder and gets addicted to cocaine, but all ends up being well when he returns in Degrassi: Next Class as a successful musician. Though we have a love-hate relationship with Craig throughout the seasons, he is proof that characters can be more than their bad traits and habits.

“shark in the water” promo

Every couple of months on Twitter, the Season 10 promo goes viral as users remember how iconic it was for foreshadowing the major plots of the season. These include Riley’s struggle with being openly gay, Adam not being accepted by his peers or family because he’s transgender, Holly J and Sav’s secret relationship, Bianca inserting herself in other people’s relationships, Jenna’s pregnancy, Fitz being the new school bully, the turmoil of Eli and Clare’s relationship, Fiona’s physically abusive relationship and the lockdown that happens midway through the season. Though it’s only one season, the characters go through more turbulence than I have in my entire lifetime.

While Degrassi isn’t as graphic as Euphoria and works more as a tame public service announcement with drama tied into it, it responsibly deals with teen issues and started conversations that weren’t being talked about in mainstream media, dating all the way back to the 80s.

To catch up on Degrassi before the revival, you can stream it for free on YouTube and can find it on HBO Max this spring while Degrassi: Next Class is on Netflix.

Hailey is a sophomore studying Public Relations with a concentration in Sports & Entertainment Communication Management at the University of Alabama. When she's not busy with school, she loves to travel, go to concerts, and dream about her future.
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