HBO Max recently partnered with WildBrain to green light a new evolution of Canadian teen-drama, Degrassi, set to release in 2023. They’ve also acquired the rights to the 2001 series known as Degrassi: The Next Generation for streaming on the platform this spring. This is exciting news to longtime fans who grew up with the show and for audiences looking for high school centered dramas such as the critically acclaimed Euphoria, which happens to be executive-produced by Degrassi native, Drake. This announcement immediately created buzz, leaving fans and previous actors on the show to speculate on what this reboot might entail.
Degrassi was originally created in 1979 by Kit Hood and Linda Schuyler, then called The Kids of Degrassi Street. The show later evolved to show the lives of the kids attending the Degrassi school and dealt with their issues throughout adolescence. After four decades, it’s time to introduce the series to a new generation. Here are five reasons why we are excited about the new reboot.
Previous Actors Spreading Nostalgia
One way to hype up fans of a series is to get their favorite actors to reminisce on their roles together. Quickly after the news spread, previous leads from The Next Generation showed their support on social media. Longtime lead who played Emma Nelson, Miriam McDonald, commented on a post from the official Instagram, “Incredible news!” Followed by Raymond Ablack, Sav Bhandari in later seasons, with, “Stüdz rules! This is awesome,” referring to a fictional band from the show. Shane Kippel and Paula Brancati, leading characters also in “Stüdz”, expressed their excitement along with Ablack.
Over on Twitter, more actors shared their excitement with their followers. Ana Golja, who played Zoë Rivas in later seasons and Next Class, tweeted, “Soooo….Zoe Rivas is going to be the Drama class TA? The new students def want a cute teacher that greets them with ‘Bonjour Bitches’.” This hype leaves fans wondering, will previous characters return?
The Potential Return of Old Characters
The Degrassi franchise is known for its continuity by showing characters progress throughout their life. The Next Generation is a sequel based on the life of Emma Nelson, the daughter of Christine “Spike” Nelson from Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High. Many of the characters from the previous generations returned as supporting characters, teachers, and parents in The Next Generation. Each character was given a story arc that either wrapped up lingering plots from the previous show or simply showed them in a new role. Fans of the series would like to see their favorite characters return once again as adults in the new series, perhaps as teachers or parents. There is plenty of room for this as Degrassi has never shied away from teen pregnancies, and enough time has passed that those babies might be entering high school right about now…
Previous Writers Are Stepping Up to Produce
The reboot seems to be in good hands with previous writers, Lara Azzopardi and Julia Cohen, stepping up as the new executive producers, taking over for Linda Schuyler, Stephen Stohn, Brendon Yorke, and others. In an interview with Josh Scherba, WildBrain president, Scherba assured that the show is taking the right path, “[Lara Azzopardi and Julia Cohen] have envisioned an evolution for Degrassi that, while staying true to the fundamental honesty, humanity and integrity of the brand, promises fans a journey into exciting new territory, both creatively and dramatically. We’re delighted to be partnering with HBO Max to deliver this new vision to fans and extend Degrassi’s legacy.”
Cohen, producer for Riverdale and The Royals, is credited for writing on a 2009 episode, “Heat of the Moment”, that deals with cyberbullying. Azzopardi is also credited with writing on the same episode with Cohen. She has since produced other successful shows such as, Backstage, Mary Kills People, and I Am an Apartment Building.
Drama That Accurately Reflects Teen Life
Degrassi has had a lasting impact on television viewers for its particularly nuanced way of portraying teen life. The show has consistently used actors that are the same age as their characters and still placed them in a real world setting that never avoided controversies. Back in its original run, some episodes were pulled from the air in the States for being too controversial. A 2004 episode dealing with abortion was initially pulled from the broadcast, sparking outrage amongst fans. The exclusion of this episode brought American censorship to attention, and was an example of realism that other American, teen shows lacked. With popular rival shows such as Euphoria leading the views for teens, accurate depictions of teen life and culture have been a hot topic among audiences. Fans are hoping that Degrassi can reshape for its contemporary audience and be that example yet again.
A New Rendition of the Theme Song “Whatever it Takes”
Every Degrassi fan knows its theme by heart. Every couple seasons featured a new version of the song with mixes ranging from choir to rock. “Whatever it takes, I know I can make it through” are lyrics that still resonate with audiences who have been reliving the show’s magic thanks to official uploads of the episodes on YouTube (a fun place to comment on scenes and read reactions from other viewers). Fans look forward to how the song will be interpreted for a new audience.
Scream is the highest-rated installment of the series on Rotten tomatoes since Scream 2.
About The Author