… morning, I watched Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High in awe. The kids were… normal teenagers. Some of them were pretty, some were awkward, but most of them would’ve never made it to American prime-time television where flawless, lithe twentysomethings feigned adolescence.
Felicia C. Sullivan
For me, this highlights a difference between Canadian television and American television. The original few Degrassi series (starting from The Kids of Degrassi Street) employed actors who weren’t part of the union, who looked like real kids. Few had acting credits before the show.
I’m from Toronto, the home of Degrassi. I feel a bit of warm fuzziness when I see the impact that the Degrassi series’ made across the continent and the world. I’ve heard that Degrassi inspired 90210. I found it amusing and interesting that one of the actors from “the original” Degrassi: The Next Generation (in the early 2000s) starred in the subsequently rebooted 90210.
The rebooted Degrassi had an entirely different feel. It still addressed significant issues such as homelessness and an Asperger’s diagnosis (from the half-season I watched), but it was also flashier. Their multimedia component, while smart business, seemed like too much. Part of the appeal of the original Degrassi was its rawness. (Or maybe that’s my nostalgia as someone started middle school as Degrassi Junior High begun and therefore was subsequently not the target demographic of TNG.)
And, Canadian TV still has a unique quality to it, and not just the politics or aesthetic. You might notice it if you watch Workin’ Moms on Netflix.