A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
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. Themes include communication, empathy, and integrity.
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 learn and demonstrate self-control and compassion. 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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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Marginal language like "crap," "shut up," and "suck."
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Products & Purchases
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.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Degrassi (sometimes called Degrassi: The Next Generation) is a Canadian series that 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.
Is It Any Good?
Excellently written and boasting a cast that actually looks and acts like real kids, this series 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. Degrassi 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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.