Degrassi is a wonderful anomaly among TV’s high school-set dramas, and not just because its stars apologize by saying “sore-y.” Most of its peers either transition to entirely new settings or die slow, painful deaths after their principal cast members graduate. But for 11 years and 12 seasons, Degrassi has stayed rooted in Toronto’s Degrassi Community School — an institute that’s seen more than its share of totally intense drama, from a traumatic shooting to a mini-outbreak of oral gonorrhea. (And that was just season 4!)
Even as the show has tackled issue after issue — drug use, date rape, teen pregnancy, what to do if your boyfriend’s a hoarder — it’s somehow managed to avoid pure sensationalism. Maybe that’s why Degrassi boasts celebrity fans including Kevin Smith (who got his own guest arc in seasons 4 and 5), Ellen Page, Sarah Silverman, and Quentin Tarantino. Either way, we were thrilled to discover that our favorite Canadian import airs its 300th episode on Friday — and even more excited when creator Linda Schuyler took half an hour to chat with us about the show’s legacy, its future, and its talented young cast (“such lovely, polite Canadian kids!”).
I have literally been watching this incarnation of Degrassi since it premiered — I’m the same age as Spinner and Ashley and everyone from the first cast, so we sort of went though high school together.
Oh my gosh, that’s so awesome! When we graduated that bunch of kids — Ashley, and Ellie, and Paige, and Marco — we actually thought,”This is going to be the end of our show.” And it’s been quite a learning curve to realize that our audience has stayed with us.
So what’s the secret to the show’s longevity?
The show set out to be an authentic — and I use the word authentic very carefully; I don’t use the word realistic –- an authentic portrayal of teenage years. READ FULL STORY »