Degrassi, Old School



Edgy but responsible; excellent TV for teens.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This show deals responsibly with a wide variety of teen-related topics, ranging from the innocent (finding a prom date) to the controversial (teen pregnancy and abortion). The thoughtful discussions of these topics include thinking about the consequences of your actions, although sometimes this occurs after the fact. The cast is racially and economically diverse. Strong female characters.


Occasional fights among students, including pushing, shoving, and punching. These acts aren't portrayed as positive behavior.


Making out, but no simulated sex. Includes frank discussions of various forms of sexual activity, although these discussions aren't explicit. The issue of teenage pregnancy is covered.

Not applicable

Outdated Pepsi logo noticeable in cafeteria scenes.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Teens discuss using drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Teen consumption of these substances is often the source of conflict and is seen as negative behavior.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this edgy Canadian teen drama presents strong topics and controversial issues that are relevant to real-life teens. Discussions about sexual behavior, substance abuse, and other issues aren't as explicit or titillating as in some more contemporary teen dramas. Instead, they're realistic, sparking honest, open discussions that include thinking about the consequences of your behavior and figuring out how to cope with difficult situations. Some episodes have a far heavier tone than others do, and the amount of controversial material varies widely from episode to episode, so parents might want to preview episodes before letting kids watch. Ultimately, like its successor, the show is one of the best shows on TV for teens because of its realism and responsibility.

What's the story?

DEGRASSI, OLD SCHOOL is the new name for the popular Canadian series -- originally titled Degrassi Junior High and later, as the characters aged, Degrassi High -- that found a lot of stateside fans when it aired on PBS in the late '80s and early '90s. Still airing today in repeats and available on DVD, the series follows a group of kids living near (where else?) Degrassi Street in Toronto, Canada, as they make their way through junior high and high school. While their clothes, hair, and vocabulary are very late-'80s, the serious and often controversial issues they deal with are still extremely relevant to today's teens. Some of the series' many recurring characters include Christine \"Spike\" Nelson (Amanda Stepto), Derek \"Wheels\" Wheeler (Neil Hope), Archie \"Snake\" Simpson (Stefan Brogren), Joey Jeremiah (Pat Mastroianni), Bryant \"BLT\" Thomas, (Dayo Ade), Lucy Fernandez (Anais Granofsky), and twins Erica and Heather Farrell (Angela and Maureen Deiseach). In true soap opera style, the characters' personal lives are the main focus of the series.

Is it any good?


Unlike many teen dramas, such as Beverly Hills, 90210, Degrassi provides an edgy, accurate look at kids and school life. The show isn't about being hip or looking perfect, and the characters don't sport flawless bodies and impeccable designer clothes. Instead, Degrassi is committed to discussing teen issues in a strikingly real, straightforward manner.

Topics like standing up for your principles, dealing with gender inequality, and handling boyfriend troubles are mixed in with concerns about unwanted pregnancy, drug use, homosexuality, alcoholism, oral sex, AIDS, and child molestation. The frankness of some of these discussions makes the show too strong for younger audiences, but for the teen and older tween viewers the show is aimed at, it's this very honesty that makes Degrassi worth watching.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the tricky situations teens face in and out of school. How do you cope with the pressure to do drugs or have sex? Families can also talk about making difficult decisions. What are the pros and cons of each choice we make? Are we prepared to live with the consequences of our choices? Unrealistic portrayals of teenagers on television are something that can also be discussed. Does the fact that the teens look like regular teens make the show more realistic? What else sets it apart from other teen series?

TV details

Cast:Neil Hope, Pat Mastroianni, Stefan Brogren
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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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.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byashsum April 9, 2008
Teen, 13 years old Written byPinkieParty2000 March 23, 2015

I love this show

I love this show I say this show is appropriate for kids who are starting middle school but if your still in elementary school I don't think you should be watching this
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written bysaphiremist November 24, 2013


What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

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