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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Degrassi: Next Class, the third reboot of the popular Canadian teen soap, features all the expected teen-oriented themes, ranging from romance, sex, and addiction to more contemporary issues such as cyberbullying and catfishing. It handles them responsibly and offers some positive lessons, but some of the content is edgy: There's some sexual activity, and activities such as underage drinking and pill-popping are visible. However, the use of words such as "ass" and "crap" are as strong as the language gets.
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What's the story?
DEGRASSI: NEXT CLASS, an updated version of the popular Canadian Degrassi franchise, centers on a group of sophomores and juniors at the fictional Degrassi Community school located in Toronto, Ontario. Students such as Maya (Olivia Scriven), Tristan (Lyle Lettau), Miles (Eric Osborne), Zoe (Ana Golja), Grace (Nikki Gould), and others have returned to high school, along with new folks such as Esme Song (Chelsea Clark), Goldi Nahir (Soma Bhatia), and Vijay Maraj (Dante Scott). From broken hearts and running for student council to social media-related challenges such as cyberbullying, the Degrassi gang navigates their high school years one day at a time.
Is it any good?
This stylized teen soap offers all the traditional drama one comes to expect from the Degrassi gang, but it does so with a more contemporary flair. Most notable is the way each narrative incorporates the use of digital technology, social media, and episode hashtag titles. Though it's still committed to featuring an array of traditional topics teens may relate to, including sexuality, body-image issues, and dysfunctional family dynamics, it also incorporates topics that have become more culturally relevant, such as depression and catfishing.
This version is trendier than its predecessors (it's hard to keep up with Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl), and while some students are more wealthy than others, the majority come from a privileged background. But beyond this, the cast is extremely diverse, and the show still features lots of positive lessons to be learned. Fans of the early versions of the series may be interested in checking out Degrassi: Next Class to see how things have changed (or not) with this new class. But no doubt: This installment will garner a whole new generation of followers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about many of the issues that teens face in their lives. What are some of the difficult decisions they face, and how do they make those choices (and live with the consequences)? How do digital technology and social media affect the way we think about these things? Do you think Degrassi: Next Class offers an accurate representation of what teens go through every day?
What gives a TV series its longevity? Is it the characters? The story lines? What kinds of changes do the producers of this series have to make to make it relevant for a new generation of viewers?
- Premiere date: January 4, 2016
- Cast: Olivia Scriven, Lyle Lettau, Eric Osborne
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, High School
- Character strengths: Empathy, Integrity
- TV rating: TV-PG
- Available on: Streaming
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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