'Degrassi' cram session (before it's on Netflix!)
Remember last week when it was announced that Degrassi was ending? It was a pretty sad day for everyone who grew up watching the saga of Degrassi High. I went into a deep Degrassi mourning phase, which continued until early this morning when it was announced the show was actually getting a resurrection. A Netflix resurrection. The show will conclude its 14-season run on CTV later this year, and then it’s moving onto big things: Netflix-sized things.
Degrassi: Next Class will be our Netflix version and we are so SO excited. So is Netflix. “We are so excited to bring Degrassi: Next Class to the world,” Erik Barmack, VP of global content for Netflix said in a statement (see? we told you). “For more than three decades, this groundbreaking show has been reaching teens with important stories.”
For those of you who are new to this whole Degrassi phenomenon, never fear. It’s never too late to get on board and there’s plenty of time to catch up on all 500+ episodes of the series before it drops onto Netflix early next year. This is what you need to know right off the bat.
Degrassi goes there!
Every single episode of Degrassi is a “very special” episode. There is no topic too big or too small to be covered, and the show has tackled just about everything at this point. Drug abuse? Self harm? Bullying and violence in schools? Growing into one’s own skin? Those are just a few of the things Degrassi has touched on, and it never feels like they’re being preachy. Instead, Degrassi looks at these topics as real-world scenarios that kids across the world deal with. They handle them so perfectly, you can instantly connect to the characters and their struggles.
It’s got the most diverse characters ever.
First off, yes, Aubrey Graham, who now goes by the name Drake, used to be a Degrassi cast member. So did Vampire Diaries‘ Nina Dobrev. These are just two of the hundreds of students to walk through Degrassi’s halls. The characters on the show were diverse, and so were their backgrounds. Y’know how on a lot of high school TV shows you have the common tropes of like, “the jock” and “the girl who’s really into art?” While Degrassi certainly has those too, but each and every character on Degrassi has something that takes them out of archetype-territory and makes them unique.
The storylines always feel relevant and revelatory.
In 2010, Degrassi introduced its first transgender character, Adam. Adam’s first introduction, “My Body Is A Cage” snagged Degrassi an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Children’s Programming.
And since Degrassi goes there, three years later, Adam died in a car accident due to the fact that he was texting while driving. Degrassi turns away from no challenge.
The show pays homage to its high school entertainment predecessors.
Degrassi once did an episode revolving around around five of its students getting stuck in Saturday detention, and it was a huge homage to The Breakfast Club. It’s probably the best Breakfast Club homage ever made. The episode’s title — “Take On Me.”
All the episodes are actually titled after songs
Most of them are ‘80s songs, too, which is a huge nod to Degrassi‘s ’80’s roots. Slowly they’ve started using early ’90s, and some present day songs, too.
It is made for binge-watching.
Before there was a thing called “Netflix Streaming” Teen Nick (which was once The N) used to air all-day Degrassi marathons, and I spent so many days of my youth binge-watching the series. With that life experience under my belt, I can tell you that watching Degrassi is a perfect way to spend a day (or a few days). While there are no plans for every single episode of Degrassi to make their way to the streaming site, I would open that opportunity with welcome arms. Even the original episodes of Degrassi in 1987 hold up today, because their stories are still relevant. Peer pressure? Trying to make decisions for after high school? Teen pregnancy? Yes, yes, and yes. Degrassi is never going out of style.