The problem with American teen dramas is that they aren’t very realistic. Prime time T.V. tries too hard to appeal to what they think American audiences want whether it be wholesome Christian influenced family friendly sitcoms or suspenseful drama based on the lives of rich inner city prep kids, the shows lack the real life connection and representation that television shows for teens need.
The release of the Netflix original "13 Reasons Why" sparked a national debate about what content is beneficial to teens at an age where they’re learning about the world and themselves. I personally had issues with "13 Reasons Why’s" message, which seemed to be “The best way to get revenge for bullying is to record thirteen tapes and send them out to their enemies so that they all spiral into a pit of anxiety.” Maybe you got a different message?
I feel like when I was a teen, I didn’t need shows like "Pretty Little Liars" or the "90210" remake where teens are experiencing drama that would never happen to the average person. We need a show that the younger generation can actually relate to. And I believe I’ve found that show.
Recently, I’ve gotten into a show called "Degrassi: Next Class" which is a spin-off series of the Degrassi Universe. "Degrassi" has created some spin-offs such as "Degrassi: Next Generation" and "Degrassi Junior High", both shows that take place in the Canadian school, Degrassi. In the past, the Degrassi spin-offs have been known to take on important and sensitive issues that most sitcoms and dramas were too afraid to touch such as alcohol abuse, runaway youth, dating violence, attempted suicide, sexual orientation, gender identity, and abortion and have been able to treat these issues delicately without romanticizing them.
A few years ago, Netflix created the spin-off of the Canadian drama called "Degrassi: Next Class". At first, I wasn’t sure how *I would feel about the show since I’ve watched awful spin-offs of old shows before, but I decided to give it a shot. Each season has about ten episodes that are each about 22 minutes long and each title is based off of a common hashtag related to the episode’s theme. A new aspect that sets the series apart from other Degrassi editions is the inclusion of social media in the day to day lives of the students. Later seasons of "Degrassi: Next Class" cover topics such as labeling sexuality and gender, dealing with PTSD and depression, going through physical therapy, recognizing racism, dealing with a terminal illness, and islamophobia. There is a wide representation of sexual orientation that you don’t normally see in television shows, not only including more than one LGBT character (this show has at least six) and the characters are actually in healthy relationships that face normal problems high school relationships face, e.g. discussing when they’re ready for sex, being out to parents, healthy jealousy that doesn’t get taken too far and is solved in the end by communication, and break ups that are ultimately for the betterment of both parties. This show even has Syrian refugee characters that show to young teens that these refugees are just like everyone else which is an important issue to cover in places like Canada that actually accept refugees.
Obviously, I would highly recommend this show over most teen dramas streamable on Netflix. If you are looking for a diverse cast that treats their characters with respect watch this show. I wish I had this show when I was in high school because a lot of things that happened when I was a kid would have made a lot more sense.