I recently discovered that Degrassi: The Next Generation is on Amazon Prime. My inner 11-year-old self lit up inside and immediately started to rewatch it.
Now that I am 18-years-old, rewatching so far the first 6 seasons of Degrassi made me realize how important this show was for teenagers. Most shows that are directed towards teens mostly involve a bunch of high school drama or vampires.
While it definitely had the high school drama aspect down, Degrassi addressed situations that teens actually experience daily such as the dangers of social media, peer pressure, sexuality, teen pregnancy, physical and mental abuse, mental illness, etc.
In the first 2 episodes of the show, it shows Emma Nelson, portrayed by Miriam McDonald, emailing back and forth with who she believed to be a young boy named Jordan. When "Jordan" suggested the two should meet, he turned out to be a sexual predator.
Season 2 is when the show slowly started to address even heavier topics. Craig Manning, portrayed by Jake Epstein, went through a lot. He moved to a new school, was physically abused by his father, and wasn't allowed to see his half-sister after the death of their mom.
Throughout the show, hints were placed that Craig struggled with some form of mental illness. It was later revealed in Season 4 that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
This storyline may seem the most familiar. It involves none other than the basketball star Jimmy Brooks, who is portrayed by the one-and-only Drake who we all know and love.
A bullied student decides one day to bring a gun to school. In this episode, we see Jimmy get shot and become paralyzed from the waist down.
Many people either forget or don't know that the character Mia Jones was portrayed by Nina Dobrev, who is mostly known for playing Elena Gilbert in The Vampire Diaries. When Mia first makes her in appearance in Season 6, it is revealed that she became a teen mom after losing her virginity at the age of 13.
Season 6 is when fans experience the mourning of one of the show's most precious characters, J.T Yorke (portrayed by Ryan Cooley). J.T was known for being very funny and sweet. He had a son with an ex-girlfriend, Liberty, in Season 5. They decided it would be best if they gave their son up for adoption. J.T. was killed by a boy from Degrassi's rival school at a birthday party. He died in the hospital that same night.
There are many, many more examples of heavy and serious topics Degrassi addressed in its entire 14 season run, but the show wasn't always serious, it definitely had its cute and fun moments.
With the situations that were addressed, Degrassi was the first show teens could really relate to. It will forever be an iconic show we grew up with.
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