Degrassi Goes Hollywood
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this TV movie set in Hollywood offers less of the frank content that teens -- and their parents -- have come to expect from the series it's based on, Degrassi: The Next Generation. Still, you can expect some kissing and making out, occasional strong language, and intermittent alcohol use -- including one scene in which it plays a role in a young woman’s apparent (but unsuccessful) suicide attempt. Some of the movie's story details are a bit of a stretch (unaccompanied teens head across country lines in a borrowed school bus, for instance), but most of the weightier stuff is handled respectfully. Many characters face personal dilemmas (a father’s mental illness and an identity crisis, for example), and they learn difficult lessons in friendship and self-reliance.
What's the story?
In DEGRASSI GOES HOLLYWOOD, an open casting call for a new movie draws old friends and rivals to Tinseltown for adventure -- and a hint of mayhem. Manny Santos (Cassie Steele) is hand-picked to be the film's leading lady, but she blows the audition -- so the spotlight falls on former Degrassi High rival Paige Michalchuck (Lauren Collins). But Paige’s newfound fame soon consumes her, and not even longtime friends Marco (Adamo Ruggiero) and Ellie (Stacey Farber) can bring her back down to earth. Meanwhile, Manny wants to reclaim the role she forfeited to Paige, and Ellie is faced with some tough choices when a chance encounter with her old flame, Craig (Jake Epstein), brings unexpected emotions to the surface.
Is it any good?
For the most part, the messages the movie sends to teens are as solid as those they’ve been getting from the series, so there’s little reason to worry about letting existing fans tune in. Since it first won over fans in the ‘80s, the Degrassi franchise has been applauded for tackling serious teen issues in a responsible, realistic way. This made-for-TV movie based on Degrassi: The Next Generation certainly doesn’t push any envelopes with its fairly frivolous content, but it does touch on familiar themes like friendship, self-respect, and love, and it hints at more serious ones like mental illness and alcoholism.
That said, viewers new to the world of Degrassi will find themselves playing catch-up on the characters' intricate relationships and likely won’t enjoy the movie as much as established fans. And it really is best for teens and up thanks to weighty topics like war (a character’s soldier father returns from the front suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder) and a character’s apparent suicide attempt. Expect some sporadic strong language and lots of kissing, all of which occurs without any adult supervision.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about some of the issues the movie raises, including teen dating and sex, coping with family issues, friendship, and alcohol use. Do you think the movie paints an accurate picture of teen life? How would you help a friend who was struggling with these or other issues?
Teens: What celebrities do you admire most? What do you like about them? What messages does it send to young fans when a star does something wrong?
What makes something "good" entertainment? Teens: Did you like this movie? How did it compare to the Degrassi series? Do you think the media has a responsibility to produce positive TV shows and movies? Why or why not?