Degrassi

Common Sense Media says

Superb, socially conscious drama deals with tough issues.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
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13
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Issues are handled in a frank, responsible, realistic, and socially conscious manner. Common themes involve friendship, family relations, self-image, peer pressure, bullying, and making mature decisions. The characters don't always make the right choices, but their missteps have realistic consequences and, in many cases, long-term effects. Cultural, religious, and socioeconomic diversity is reflected in the cast.

Positive role models

The Degrassi teens are a flawed bunch, but they're also realistic and relatable, with concerns and problems (and triumphs) that real-life teens will definitely identify with. They also look more like real teens than other "teen" characters on TV. The same is true for the adult role models in the teens' lives; they're not perfect, but they face real-world challenges and make it through as best they can.

Violence

Violence isn't a normal part of the show and is never gratuitous, so it makes an impact when it happens. Domestic violence, hate crimes, date rape, school shootings -- all of these have a lasting effect on the characters involved.

Sex

Frank talk about sexuality. Several teen characters have sex, usually with consequences. A main character got pregnant and had an abortion; two more have had to deal with another unplanned pregnancy. Another character contracted an STD through oral sex, and one gay character's coming out and first boyfriend provided a major plotline. Kissing and some making out is shown.

Language

Marginal language like "crap," "shut up," and "suck."

Consumerism

An after-school job at a movie theater has provided an opportunity for Coke promotion. Some episodes have featured Apple computers, MP3 players, and Triple Five Soul clothing, and others are set to music that's promoted just before commercial breaks.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Experimentation almost always has consequences. Over the course of the show, a few characters have tried drugs or overindulged in alcohol, but there's always been fallout, such as embarrassing behavior or missed opportunities because of their poor choices.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this Canadian series tackles big issues like sex, teen pregnancy, sexual identity, drug use, school violence, hate crimes, and mental disorders in a frank, thoughtful way. It presents these subjects as everyday factors in teens' lives and explores their repercussions through the students' eyes. This uncensored honesty gives the show credibility beyond that of many of the soapier series available to teens, but at the same time, it creates a classic know-your-kid situation for parents. Some episodes have a far heavier tone than others do, and the amount and type of controversial material varies widely from story to story, so previewing each episode is your best bet. Ultimately, though, this series manages a moral tone without coming off as preachy, which goes a long way in maintaining teens' interest and earns it a spot among the best, most responsible series out there for teens. The content is edgy but both relevant and appropriate for the target audience, which is why we're giving it an "on" rating.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

DEGRASSI: THE NEXT GENERATION is a teen drama set in a Canadian community school where a diverse group of high-schoolers cope with academic pressures, social stresses, relationship woes, and even weightier issues like drug use, cyberbullying, and STDs. Like its 1980s predecessors, Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High, the show's ensemble cast is a microcosm of the modern-day teen population as a whole, incorporating characters of different ethnicities, socio-economic groups, religious persuasions, and sexual identities, not to mention differences in personalities. Overachievers, underachievers, jocks, socialites, perfectionists, control freaks, social misfits -- all find a place in the halls of Degrassi. During the show's run, it has endured numerous cast changes, but nothing has changed about the way the show addresses serious issues like gang violence, rape, and teen pregnancy.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Excellently written and boasting a cast that actually looks and acts like real kids, Degrassi: The Next Generation provides provocative, engaging, and socially conscious programming for teens and adults. The show's braintrust doesn't hold back when it comes to facing tough but relevant issues, which means that these teens have sex, drink, do drugs, bully, and turn violent against each other. There's Fiona (Annie Clark), a sexually insecure teen who finally comes out as a lesbian; Alli (Melinda Shankar), whose conservative Muslim upbringing doesn't change her appetite for popularity and the opposite sex; Adam (Jordan Todosey), a transgender teen who comes into his own with the help of some true friends; Jenna (Jessica Tyler), a teen mom who makes a tough choice for herself and her baby boy; and Clare (Aislinn Paul), who struggles to come to terms with her mom's new relationship and the emotionally complicated new family life that comes of it.

It's impossible not to get invested in the characters' lives and to sympathize with their feelings during emotionally rocky times. This isn't a comfortable, heartwarming series that solves all its self-created problems in its allotted 30-minute window and leaves you feeling joyful at its end. It's designed to put you on edge and make you confront tough situations, and it does so without relying on any of the sensationalism that allows viewers to dismiss the content as dramatic effect. This accomplishes two things: First, it forces parents to picture their own teens in the characters' shoes, and second, it offers them a unique opportunity to start a discussion with their kids about tough issues that arise in the content. Fortunately the caliber of the show itself makes it equally entertaining for you and your teen to watch. What's more, if you're an alum of the original Junior High series, you'll find particular enjoyment in seeing a few stars from that incarnation return to the screen as the grown-ups in this one.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what sets this show apart from other teen shows. Does that fact that the teens look like regular teens make it more realistic? Can you relate to their issues? Have you or your friends dealt with similar ones?

  • The issue of self-image is a common theme in this show, and families can discuss the pressures on young women to lose weight and get plastic surgery. Are there aspects of your body that you wish you could change? Does this issue affect your enjoyment of life? How does the media influence how you think you look?

  • This series shines a light on several timely issues, including bullying, tolerance, sexual identity, and sexual activity. Depending on the episode's content, talk to your kids about these and other topics, drawing comparisons between the characters' actions and your own family rules. Did the show encourage you to see a situation differently than you have in the past? How does peer pressure play a role in your decisions about what you will and will not do?

TV details

Cast:Mike Lobel, Miriam McDonald, Stacey Farber
Network:TeenNick
Genre:Drama
Topics:Friendship, Great boy role models, Great girl role models, High school
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Degrassi was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Written byAnonymous May 27, 2010
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

i'm not sure

Well my child loves it although she says it involves *** and swearing....
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written byTruthBeTold August 5, 2011
AGE
16
QUALITY
 

Not appropriate, nor educational, nor truly 'realistic'.

Many will advocate for the show, claiming that the depictions of such off-color and "gritty" themes as drugs and sex are "realistic". I think otherwise. While there are occasional consequences for actions, the simple fact that the show is depicting such drama at all as a means for entertainment is what's truly disturbing. This show is not educational in a realistic way. Many parents are getting confused, thinking that this show, meant for the entertainment of teenagers, has an educational undertone. The kids are not watching the show to learn that sex is wrong, or that drugs are bad -- on the contrary, they will be watching to see these depictions of sex and drugs. The drama in the show enraptures its audience, yes, but it's that same dramatic overtone that teenagers may be seeking out. They could see the drama brought on by such actions depicted on the show, and feel compelled to add that 'enriching' drama to their own lives by following suit. Let us not forget the 'invincibility fable', which states that young people feel that dangerous behaviors and actions won't have the same, or any, consequences for them. Those who advocate that the show is educational for teens, let alone appropriate, assume that teens who see the consequences of sex and drugs will be less likely to emulate, when the opposite is true. When teens, who often are plagued by the invincibility fable, watch such material, the likelihood of emulation is increased. Their peaked curiosity in the show's material combined with the innate feelings that tell them, "that won't happen to me; I'm different," leave the door open for the teen to replicate what they witness. Don't be fooled by parents who state that the show is educational or appropriate. It isn't true. Such subject matter should be taught at length in a constructive manner by caretakers, one-on-one, not by relying on this skewed show to teach them the "realities of the world".
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byactive parenting 101 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Too Much Too Soon

...A beautiful high school girl drinks alcohol so that she could relax enough to have sex with her boyfriend. The boyfriend just got out of jail, and as a result of being in jail, the boy dropped out of high school. Also, the girl throws a party when her parents were out of town. The party got out of control and a boy was stabbed, then later died. Overall, the show has bad messages it sends to kids under 17.
Teen, 15 years old Written byzoiewarrior June 7, 2015
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

Realistic, but not appropriate for children under 13

Many people argue that this show is not realistic, it's actually the most realistic show for teens I have seen. I have been watching this show since I was 10, and it has helped me overcome many problems. This show isn't appropriate for kids under 13, it deals with gang violence, drugs, alcohol, sexual assault, and so much more. Just recently the covered a story about a girl named Zoe who was sexually assaulted at a party. The story showed a strong message about speaking out to help others, and how big of an impact that has on a person. Degrassi was my friend when I felt like I had none. I had something to look forward to every Tuesday night. When I went through problems, I watched the Degrassi episode corresponding my issue. Which there always was one. I never understood what it meant to be gay or transgender. I never understood how someone felt until Adam was struggling with everyone finding out he was transgender, or how Riley's mom would not accept him when he came out as gay. The show covered Fiona's story about being addicted to alcohol which I thought was really a powerful story line. She was sent into rehab when her friends and family helped her understand what was wrong. Anyway, I think this show has great messages when it comes to overcoming something difficult. There isn't that much sex, and the show only ever talks about for serious topics. (Sometimes not serious topics or problems at all though). It is violent, but that is only in topics that are important like bullying. As long as your child is mature, there isn't too much of anything like drugs, violence, swearing, sex, etc... There is nothing bad I can say about Degrassi. Remember, if a 10 year old me was mature enough to handle Emma's anorexic story line, and Paige's sexual assault, (Yes, there were more than one sexual assault stories.) a 13 year old should be mature enough to handle Maya, Zig, and Miles love triangles. :)
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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