Degrassi: The Show That I Will Never Stop Recommending

I have always been an avid TV binge-watcher, and I have tons of favorite shows that I love talking about. One of my all-time favorite shows growing up was Degrassi, a long-time running Canadian teen drama franchise about children living in Toronto, Canada. There were six versions of the series, starting in 1979 with over two hundred characters walking the school's halls that experienced a wide range of life-altering moments. Nearly every episode handled difficult topics for adolescents like drug use, pregnancy, gender and sexuality, and suicide. Aside from the show's discussion of serious topics, the characters were entertaining and exciting to watch day after day. 

  1. 1. Telling the "Untold" Stories 

    Degrassi is known for having "taboo" storylines that the show's young characters consistently are faced with. I found that this aspect of the display allows the audience to gain a broader perspective on matters that they aren't generally accustomed to. For example, one of Degrassi: The Next Generation's main characters, Toby Issacs, battled an eating disorder after making weight for the school's wrestling team. He became one of the first male characters to be shown tackling an eating disorder, considering similar issues are viewed in the media as "female" issues. 

  2. 2. The Show's Ongoing Nature

    Since the show revolves around a junior high school (aka middle school) and a high school, the characters' lives on their show typically last until their high school graduation. In many ways, the show seems never-ending. I'll admit that this point has its pros and cons. On one hand, there are endless episodes and the world of Degrassi thrives for a long time. However, it also means that some of the storylines might begin to seem repetitive. 

  3. 3. Creating Incredible TV Promos 

    For seasons 10 through 14, the show created promo videos that transformed into a music video that cleverly foreshadowed the entire season. At first glance, most of the clues were hard to pick up on, but as the season went on, there were "aha" moments that connect back to the promo video. 

     

    My favorite would have to be season 10's promo that became a music video for V V Brown's song "Shark in the Water." The promo took place at a carnival in which all of the show's main characters hinting at something their character will be involved in at some point in the season. The entire promo was a clever masterpiece that became an iconic aspect of Degrassi.

  4. 4. Age-Appropriate Casting 

    This may seem somewhat random, but Degrassi's characters were played by actors and actresses that were either the same age or close in age to their character. Many teen drama shows and movies include older actors playing teenagers, which means the "look" of teenagers on the screen is misrepresented. The actors also did their own hair and makeup for most of the show's run for their look to come off as naturally as possible. For me, the Degrassi characters were the most natural and realistic teenagers that I saw on screen. 

In many ways, Degrassi was educational programming that used interesting characters to tell extraordinary stories that children and young adults do not often see told elsewhere. Outside of providing me with a consistent flow of comedy and drama growing up, this show allowed me to learn an incredible amount about life experiences that I was unfamiliar with. 

If you're interested in watching Degrassi, almost every episode of the show can be found on the official Degrassi YouTube channel.