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Monday October 17, 2005 3:39 pm

Study Up on Degrassi

Posted by Veronica Santiago Categories: Drama, Kids, Cable, Degrassi,

DegrassiI remember as young child without access to cable, I would endlessly flip through the few TV channels that I had.  Such determination mixed with boredom introduced my uncultured mind to a world of things, including a foreign channel called CBC.  Thanks to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, I was introduced to endless Bryan Adams videos, unheard of artists like Alison Moyet and most importantly - Degrassi Junior High.

I devoured every Degrassi episode that I could catch.  It was unlike anything I had ever seen on American television.  It was like watching an After School Special every single week. Although I can’t specifically remember all the issues covered during that time (c’mon - that was 1987), I always remembered the episode when the female character, Spike, found out she was pregnant.  She was in junior high!  As someone also in junior high at that time, I was completely stunned to realize that things like that could happen to young pups like me.  Could someone I know also get pregnant anytime soon—or was this just a Canadian thing??  Didn’t this only happen to bad girls in high school?  Now teenage pregnancy may seem like a pretty cliche plot line these days, but this was groundbreaking material at the time, and it was something that was definitely not sugar-coated.

Fast forward almost 7 years later.  My setting:  the college library.  What?  There are actually people in this library who are being forced to watch Degrassi episodes for a class credit?  What this class is this and where can I sign up??  I always knew that Degrassi was as educational as it was entertaining - but I never thought that a college prof would feel the same way.  I was light years ahead of myself back at age 13 and I didn’t even know it.  Damn, why am I taking these accounting classes again?

Fast forward another 11 years.  My personal discovery:  The Noggin. There is actually a spin-off of Nickelodeon that’s not Nick at Night that I can tolerate watching?  And omigod, they actually air episodes of Degrassi?  Yes, this Degrassi was “The Next Generation,” but this generation picked up exactly where the last ones left off.  And as a nice bonus, the baby that pregnant Spike had during the junior high years was actually made a main character of this series.  My baby was all growns up!

In the short period of time I have been watching this version (thankfully helped by constantly airing re-runs) I have been able to witness a number of social topics covered: cancer, date rape, teacher/student dating, STDs, oral sex, plastic surgery, alcoholic parents, cutting, homosexuality and leaked internet videos.  And to top it off, the producers even had the balls to cover a school shooting and do it with class.

I could just go on and on about how much I love this show, but if you still have any doubts, just ask director Kevin Smith.  Jay and Silent Bob just recently appeared on three episodes, and didn’t even lose an ounce of street cred for it.   

DEGRASSI FAN BONUS:  For those of you who were fans of the old Degrassi or converts to the new series, you can now catch up with the old series once again!  The Noggin is now airing marathons of the old school episodes, so check your local listings/Tivo for air times.

Read More | The Noggin



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