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Yes, I’m “Going There”: The Confessions of a Degrassi Addict

August 1, 2010

Yes, I watch Degrassi. Screw you for judging me.

My name is C.M. Tomlin, and I watch Degrassi: The Next Generation.

In fact, I’m watching it as I type this — and I’ve been watching it for the last two and a half hours straight. That’s because Teen Nick is currently in the throes of its tenth season, which it’s running often on the network in mini-marathon format. Don’t get me wrong, either: this piece is not some sort of “Hey everybody, I’ve just now gotten into watching this show” kind of thing. I’ve been watching it for ten seasons. Probably for about seven plus years.

I know I’m far from the show’s target demographic which — last I checked — was Canadian teens. For the uninitiated, Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High were Canadian television programs in the late eighties and early nineties which followed a group of schoolchildren’s tribulations as they navigated the social circles and pitfalls of teenagedom. The Degrassi universe then, after a dormant period, went live again in its current incarnation Degrassi: The Next Generation in 2001, originally airing on the teen-focused network Noggin, which then became Teen Nick.

So, yeah. I’m clearly not a sixteen-year old in Toronto. But good writing is good writing, and there’s a reason why D:TNG has under its belt twenty Gemini awards (think Canadian Emmies), two Canadian Screenwriting awards, ten NCFR media awards and seven Canadian Awards of Excellence, among many, many others. Issues the soapy melodrama has covered over the years include abortion, school shootings, bullying, STDs, online predators, adultery, abusive relationships, eating disorders and even murder. It’s even so beloved from a writing standpoint that noted director Kevin Smith requested and landed a character arc in the show wherein his character — that of noted director Kevin Smith —  fake filmed Jay and Silent Bob Go to Canada, Eh? at the fake school.

I first began watching Degrassi late one night when a marathon was running and I couldn’t sleep. Face it, you’ve seen these exact same late-night marathons on your own cable scehdule. Five episodes in, I was hooked — and it was the beginning of a long-running and clandestine love affair I’ve had with the show ever since. I’ve even recommended the show to others — though only those who won’t openly mock me off the bat — and in every case, that recommendee is now a Degrassi regular as well. I’ve always hidden my Degrassi affections. Until today.

Degrassi: The Next Generation is as riveting as a television school drama can be — its rotating cast of archetypal characters rising through the grades and graduating only to cede the reins to a group of classmates coming up the ladder below them. But I defy you to watch at least five or six episodes and not be interested in watching more. More importantly, the show proves that the trials of being a teenager, though their specifics may change with the times, remain as universal as always. It’s almost impossible to predict the story arcs any given character will follow, proving the show constantly unpredictable and signifcant of the fact that any given stereotype can experience any number of problems. Sure, it’s set in high school — but that’s not just a high school thing, it’s a real life, any-age thing.

In fact, Degrassi is more adult than most of the adult big-network dramas airing on television currently. I’d even wager to say that some of you reading this are secretly Degrassi fans as well. You know who you are — you’re the same ones who see Lil’ Wayne’s newest protoge Drake on television and smile to yourself, knowing he also played the paraplegic basketball player Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi. You’re the ones who see the show’s characters popping up for small cameos on American television and are oddly proud of them. Don’t be afraid. Come forward, fellow Degrassi fans. I embrace you. Because well-produced television speaks for itself, no matter what age its subjects may be. And Canada is delivering it in spades.

Just trust me and watch it already. You’ll see. There’s no reason to be ashamed of watching some of the most interesting storylines and writing on television, regardless of the network. Screw the demographic — this is just good TV.

Season 10 of Degrassi: The Next Generation is currently airing on Teen Nick.

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2 Comments
  1. Emily permalink
    October 17, 2010 9:42 pm

    I loveeee degrassi!

  2. Cierra permalink
    April 8, 2011 8:42 am

    I’m f-ing obsessed with Degrassi i can’t gt enought an i don’t think it’s right that they keep playing the eli teaser! Does he crash and die? does he crash and get severely hurt? or does he crash and kill someone else?

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