Degrassi: The Next Generation
|Degrassi: The Next Generation|
|Also known as||Degrassi (seasons 10–14)|
|Theme music composer|
|Opening theme||"Whatever It Takes"|
by Lisa Dalbello
|Country of origin||Canada|
|No. of seasons||14|
|No. of episodes||385 (list of episodes)|
|Production locations||Toronto, Ontario|
|Running time||approx. 22 minutes|
|Original release||October 14, 2001 –|
August 2, 2015
|Followed by||Degrassi: Next Class|
Degrassi: The Next Generation (also known as Degrassi for seasons 10 to 14) is a Canadian teen drama television series and the fourth series in the Degrassi franchise, which was created by Linda Schuyler and Kit Hood in 1979. It is a direct followup to Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High, featuring a new ensemble cast of students at the fictional Degrassi Community School who face various issues and challenges such as sex, teen pregnancy, bullying, date rape, drug abuse, body image, homosexuality, domestic violence, gang violence, self-injury, suicide, abortion, mental disorders, death, and many other issues. Various characters from the previous two series also return as adults in recurring or guest roles.
The series was initially created by Linda Schuyler and Yan Moore, the latter of who was the head writer of Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High. It was produced by Epitome Pictures (a subsidiary of DHX Media) in association with Bell Media. The series premiered on CTV on October 14, 2001, to mixed reviews, with some critics expressing doubts about whether the show would make the same impact as its predecessors, but would ultimately garner similar critical and commercial success. It received favourable reviews from critics of Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, and AfterElton.com.
In its initial years, it was frequently the most watched domestic drama series in Canada. In the United States, it became the highest-rated show on Noggin's teen block, The N. By 2004, the series had averaged nearly a million viewers in Canada, and half a million in the United States. The series won numerous awards, including awards from the Geminis, Writers Guild of Canada, and Directors Guild of Canada. Internationally, it also won several Teen Choice Awards, Young Artist Awards, and Prix Jeunesse. The episode "My Body Is a Cage", in which a character is outed as transgender, won a Peabody Award in 2011.
The format of the series underwent several changes during its later seasons. The series moved to MuchMusic for its ninth season in 2010; the tenth season marked a change in production style to a telenovela format during the summer months, before returning to its standard fall-spring schedule; the thirteenth season reverted to a weekly schedule and part way through moved to MTV Canada, where it aired until its final episode on August 2, 2015, after fourteen seasons. It was followed by Degrassi: Next Class, which followed characters from the show's later seasons as well as introducing newer ones, in 2016.
The Degrassi universe was created in 1979 by Playing With Time, a production company owned by former schoolteacher Linda Schuyler and her partner Kit Hood. The franchise began with The Kids of Degrassi Street, which was spawned out of three half-hour short films, and came to prominence with the critical and commercial successes of Degrassi Junior High, which debuted in 1987, and Degrassi High, which premiered in 1989. The two series followed an ensemble cast of students attending the titular schools as they confronted various issues. It became an international sensation, with the shows experiencing upwards of a million viewers on average in Canada, and received numerous accolades. The telemovie School's Out, which concluded the franchise, aired in 1992.
Schuyler and original Degrassi series head writer Yan Moore began developing a new television drama in 1999, following a reunion of the original Degrassi cast on the CBC series Jonovision. As the months progressed, they began to think about what had happened to the original characters to develop a school-reunion theme. However, they decided that a series would not work effectively if based around adults instead of children. Moore realized that the character Emma Nelson, born to character Christine "Spike" Nelson at the end of Degrassi Junior High's second season, would soon be entering junior high school, and development for the series took a new direction by focusing on Emma and her school experiences.
Schuyler's husband Stephen Stohn suggested Degrassi: The Next Generation as the name for the new sequel series, borrowing the concept from Star Trek: The Next Generation, of which he was a fan. The project was pitched to CTV in May 2000, with the originally planned reunion episode serving as the pilot to the new series.
Executive producers, script-writers and directors
Produced by Epitome Pictures Inc, in association with CTVglobemedia, later renamed Bell Media in 2011, Degrassi: The Next Generation received funding from Canadian Television Fund and BCE the Shaw Rocket Fund, Mountain Cable Program and the Royal Bank of Canada, the Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund, and the Cogeco Program Development Fund.
Linda Schuyler and Stephen Stohn served as executive producers throughout its run. Other Epitome Pictures employees and series crew members were also been credited as executive producers, including Sara Snow, Brendon Yorke, James Hurst, Aaron Martin, and Sarah Glinski.
Story editors included Sarah Glinski and Matt Huether, Shelley Scarrow, James Hurst, Aaron Martin, and Sean Reycraft. Frequent directors included Phil Earnshaw, Stefan Scaini and Bruce McDonald. When production of season three began, a user on the official Degrassi: The Next Generation website with the alias "ExecProducer" began a forum thread titled "Shooting Season 3", revealing production details, guest actors, scheduling information and DVD release details. He referred to himself as "Stephen Stohn" in one post, although it was not until the release of Degrassi: Generations – The Official 411 in 2005, that Stohn confirmed he was the poster and it was not an imposter.
The episodes are written following the same formula with two or three storylines (Plot A, Plot B and Plot C). The main storyline, A, opens and closes the episode and is usually driven by a single character. Plot B is usually more comedic in tone and sometimes slightly intertwined with the other stories, often moving story arcs forward. Plot C was usually used sporadically in a season-long arc, but would eventually settle as comedic relief. The problems and issues presented in the episode are not always resolved by the end of the episode, and are carried over to the next, or create a mini-arc over several episodes. The majority of episodes are named after songs from the 1980s, and since the tenth season, episodes are named after songs from the 1990s to the present, representing the entering of a new decade and a completely different cast from the earlier seasons. For the first nine seasons, Degrassi: The Next Generation had been produced as a weekly half-hour teen comedy-drama series, with each season consisting of between fifteen and twenty-four episodes.
Due to falling viewing figures between seasons six and nine, the series developed a daily soap opera format for the summer run of the tenth season, and increased the number of episodes to forty-four. The tenth season also dropped the tagline "The Next Generation", with only one original cast member remaining, and due to the young audience unfamiliar with the past generation, referring to the series as "Degrassi". Season 13 reverted to airing episodes weekly, but still produced more episodes than prior to the soap opera format, airing a block in the summer of 2013 and the summer of 2014.
The Degrassi opening sequence follows a two- to three-minute cold open. During the first five seasons these credits showed the characters on the school premises and followed a mini storyline. Seasons six and seven featured titles with the actors breaking the fourth wall and facing the camera, over a montage of character videos from past seasons, saturated with blue colour and gold outlines. The montages behind the characters depicting a major event in that character's storyline. For the eighth season, the show abandoned the style of titles used for the previous two seasons and returned to the original form of showing the characters at school while participating in school-related activities. Season thirteen dropped the opening credits, replacing it with an eleven-second montage. This continued into season fourteen. Instead of listing every ensemble actor, after the montage, season thirteen and fourteen episodes credit only the regular actors appearing in that episode.
The theme music, "Whatever It Takes", was composed by Jim McGrath, with lyrics written by Jody Colero and Stephen Stohn. The song include lines such as, "Whatever it takes, I know I can make it through/Be the best, the best I can be", to convey what Colero calls, "a sense of joy and optimism." Lisa Dalbello performed the lyrics with a children's choir over a 1980s pop music style tune during the first three seasons. Dave Ogilvie and Anthony Valcic of Canadian industrial-pop group Jakalope reworked and performed the song with a heavier sound, reflecting the growing maturity of the characters in season four. For seasons six and seven, the theme—still performed by Jakalope—was remixed and stripped of vocals. A fourth version of the theme song, with lyrics sung by Damhnait Doyle, was introduced for the eighth season, and a fifth version of the theme, performed by the in-show band "Stüdz" is used for the ninth and tenth seasons. For seasons eleven and twelve, a sixth version of the theme song is used, performed by Alexz Johnson. Seasons thirteen and fourteen featured a truncated version of the Alexz Johnson theme.
Jim McGrath created the musical score for each episode using an instrumental version of the theme music. He also worked with actors such as Jake Epstein, Melissa McIntyre and Jamie Johnston, when writing music for their characters Craig Manning, Ashley Kerwin, and Peter Stone to perform in the bands Downtown Sasquatch, Paige Michalchuk and the Sexkittens (PMS), Hell Hath No Fury, and Stüdz. In addition to being scored, Degrassi features a mix of original emo, alternative rock and pop music. Popular songs were used sparingly in the series, mainly because of budget constraints. Usually, music supervisor Jody Colero selected songs from little-known, unsigned Canadian artists. When these songs are included, they originate from a diegetic source. Examples of this can be seen in the first-season episode "Jagged Little Pill", when well-known songs are played during Ashley's house party, at the wedding reception in the fifth-season episode "Weddings, Parties, Anything", and during the party scene in the seventh-season episode "Everything She Wants".
The Degrassi universe is set on De Grassi Street in Toronto, Ontario. The three previous series were filmed on and near the street. However, The Next Generation was filmed at Epitome Pictures' four soundstages and backlot located at the company's 100,000-square-foot (9,300 m2) production studios in Toronto. The facade of Degrassi Community School is the exterior of Studio C, and uses the same colours and glass pattern as Centennial College, which was used to depict the school in Degrassi High. The area in front of this facade features a "hoarding area" where students gather, a street, and a bus stop across the road. The studio's backlot is used for exterior shots of the characters' houses, which is one unit dressed differently for each house, and The Dot Grill. The building for The Dot is the only one on the backlot large enough to allow filming inside; scenes taking place inside the school and house interiors are filmed on one of four sound stages.
Studio A contains sets for the school's hallways, washrooms, cafeteria and classrooms. The hallways are stenciled with phrases such as "the perfect human being is all human", which were found at the Etobicoke School for the Arts, one of the many schools that set designers used during their original research. The washroom set has graffiti on the walls to look authentic, and is used for the girls' and boys' room; urinals are installed and removed as needed. The set used for the cafeteria is "purposefully bland to take the edge off the rest of the school looking so beautiful." It is also used as the studio's cafeteria where the cast and crew eat.
In addition to being used as the exterior of the school, Studio C holds sets for the school's entrance foyer, the gymnasium, the media lab and a hallway with lockers. As the series progressed and the budget increased, a stairway and balcony were installed in the foyer in an attempt to get characters off the floor and not all appear in the same geometric plane. For the first few seasons, the gym floor was made of real wooden floorboards; due to warping, it was replaced by concrete painted to look like wood.
Studio B contains the sets for the characters' houses and The Core newspaper office which was introduced in season six. It also held sets for Instant Star, another Epitome Pictures production. The fourth studio, Studio D, houses all the production offices, dressing rooms, and make-up and hair departments. The pool hall and university campus club sets were built in Studio D for the seventh season.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||15||October 14, 2001||March 3, 2002|
|2||22||September 29, 2002||February 23, 2003|
|3||22||September 17, 2003||April 5, 2004|
|4||22||September 7, 2004||February 14, 2005|
|5||19||September 19, 2005||March 20, 2006|
|6||19||September 29, 2006||May 14, 2007|
|7||24||October 5, 2007||June 23, 2008|
|8||22||October 5, 2008||August 14, 2009|
|9||23||October 4, 2009||July 16, 2010|
|10||44||July 19, 2010||April 22, 2011|
|11||45||July 18, 2011||May 18, 2012|
|12||40||July 16, 2012||June 21, 2013|
|13||40||July 11, 2013||July 29, 2014|
|14||28||October 28, 2014||August 2, 2015|
For the new generation of students, producers auditioned over six hundred school-aged children in an attempt to provide characters to which the teenaged target-audience could relate. The decision to cast age-similar actors was purposeful to contrast the series from other shows of the same period such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dawson's Creek, which had cast actors in their twenties as teenagers.
Eleven children were given star billing in the first season. Sarah Barrable-Tishauer portrayed the lonely high-achiever Liberty Van Zandt. Daniel Clark played bad-boy Sean Cameron. Lauren Collins was cast as Paige Michalchuk, the school's head cheerleader and queen bee. Ryan Cooley portrayed class clown James Tiberius "J.T." Yorke, with Jake Goldsbie cast as J.T.'s best friend, Toby Isaacs, a computer geek. Drake portrayed basketball star Jimmy Brooks, who is from a wealthy family. Shane Kippel played school bully Gavin "Spinner" Mason. Miriam McDonald was cast as Emma Nelson, an environmental rights activist, with Cassie Steele cast in the role of Emma's best friend, promiscuous high school cheerleader Manuela "Manny" Santos. Melissa McIntyre portrayed Ashley Kerwin, the perfect girl who attracts the popular boys, and who the other girls are jealous of. Christina Schmidt portrayed the overweight and insecure Terri McGreggor.
Providing ties to the previous series in the Degrassi universe, Stefan Brogren was approached to play his old character Archie "Snake" Simpson, now working at the school as the media immersion teacher. Dan Woods reprised his role as English teacher Mr. Raditch, now promoted to school principal, and Pat Mastroianni returned to his role as Joey Jeremiah. Amanda Stepto also returned to the franchise to play her character Christine "Spike" Nelson in a recurring role.
In the pilot episode, former Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High actors Danah Jean Brown (Trish Skye), Darrin Brown (Dwayne Myers), Michael Carry (Simon Dexter), Irene Courakos (Alexa Pappadopoulos), Chrissa Erodotou (Diana Economopoulos), Anais Granofsky (Lucy Fernandez), Rebecca Haines (Kathleen Mead), Sarah Holmes (Alison Hunter), Neil Hope (Derek "Wheels" Wheeler), Kyra Levy (Maya Goldberg), Cathy Keenan (Liz O'Rourke), Stacie Mistysyn (Caitlin Ryan), and Siluck Saysanasy (Yick Yu) reprised their roles for the class reunion storyline.
In season two, Mastroianni returned to the Degrassi franchise in a starring role as Joey Jeremiah, a car salesman and single father of two children. Joey's stepson, musician Craig Manning, played by Jake Epstein, is a new student at Degrassi Community School. Three other new characters were introduced in season two in recurring roles. Stacey Farber played Ellie Nash, a goth whose home life is in turmoil, and Adamo Ruggiero portrayed Marco Del Rossi, who is struggling to accept the reality that he is gay. Melissa Di Marco was cast as science and gym teacher Daphne Hatzilakos. Mistysyn also returned to her former Degrassi role as Joey's ex-high school sweetheart, Caitlyn Ryan, who in the years following graduation has become a world-renowned journalist.
In season three, Farber, Ruggiero and Mistysyn were given regular roles, as were Andrea Lewis (Hazel Aden) and Stepto, who had held recurring roles since the first season. Mike Lobel (Jay Hogart), Deanna Casaluce (Alex Nuñez), Ephraim Ellis (Rick Murray) and John Bregar (Dylan Michalchuk) were introduced in recurring roles as new students. Towards the end of the season, Schmidt's character, Terri McGreggor, was written out of the show when her possessive boyfriend Rick pushed her to the ground and knocked her head against a rock, causing her to fall into a coma.
Over the course of the ten seasons of Degrassi: The Next Generation, there have been several departures from the series. Season six depicted the first death of one of the show's main characters when J.T. Yorke was stabbed and killed. Clark's character Sean Cameron has been written out of the show twice. He left the series during the fourth season in the wake of the death of Rick Murray, and returned for the sixth season, but departed the series again at the end of the season. At the end of season five several main characters graduated from Degrassi Community School, and either left the series or went on to university. Six new characters were introduced in season seven in a storyline where nearby rival high school Lakehurst merged with Degrassi following a fire.
Season eight saw many changes when many of the existing cast members, including Collins, Farber, Graham, Stepto, Ruggiero, and DiMarco either moved to recurring status or left the series entirely. The exodus of several major cast members was reportedly an executive decision that left the actors and producers on bad terms, with Graham stating in an interview with Vibe that "[the producers] did us foul." Thirteen actors were added to the main cast to replace them. By season nine, Brogren, McDonald, Steele and Kippel were the only actors from season one who remained in the series as storylines began to focus on a new generation of children attending the school. This was done to avoid moving the show to a primarily college setting, as the first generation cast aged or "graduated" out of Degrassi Community School into college.
As of season 10, none of the characters from the earlier seasons remain, with the exception of Brogren, whose character has been promoted to the principal of Degrassi Community School; the series now centres on the new generation of Degrassi students.
Besides Brogren, Mistysyn, Stepto, and Mastroianni having starring roles, other actors from Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High have returned to guest star in their old roles throughout Degrassi: The Next Generation's run. As well as the pilot episode featuring the return of many Degrassi alumni, Granofsky made a second guest appearance during the second season in the episode "White Wedding" when her character attends the wedding of Spike and Snake. Actor Neil Hope, who portrayed "Wheels" in the original series, returns for a brief cameo in a third-season episode centered around Snake's battle with Leukemia. In a fifth-season episode, Keenan guest stars when her character returns to console Spike after her marriage with Snake breaks down.
Movie director Kevin Smith has been a fan of the Degrassi series from the early 1990s, when he worked at a convenience store in Leonardo, New Jersey. Actor Jason Mewes was his co-worker at the store and also became a fan . Every Sunday morning at work, Smith and Mewes watched episodes of Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High on Public Broadcasting Service. Smith enjoyed the earlier series and has acknowledged an infatuation with Stacie Mistysyn. He has also paid homage to Degrassi by referring to it in several of his films. He named a Clerks character Caitlin Bree after Mistysyn's Degrassi character, Caitlin Ryan, wrote Shannen Doherty's character Rene wearing a Degrassi jacket throughout his Mallrats film, and had Jason Lee's character in Chasing Amy specifically mention Degrassi Junior High as a TV show he wants to watch, rather than going out. Smith and Mewes guest starred as themselves in the final three episodes of the fourth season. The plot for these episodes involves the pair working on Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, Eh!, a fictional feature film in the View Askewniverse, using Degrassi Community School as a filming location.
Singer Alanis Morissette, who had worked with Smith, also guest stars in "Going Down the Road Part One" as herself, acting as the school principal in Smith's film. Smith and Mewes return to Degrassi: The Next Generation as themselves for two episodes in season five. The storyline in the episodes was of the premiere of Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, Eh! Alanis Morissette made a cameo appearance as the school principal when scenes from the film were shown during its premiere screening. Smith and Mewes guest starred a third time for four episodes in season eight when many of the characters travelled to Hollywood, Los Angeles. In the episodes, Mewes is the writer-director and protagonist of Mewesical High, which stars a number of Degrassi Community School students. Smith appears in the episodes to support Mewes as he makes his directorial debut.
Other actors to appear in Degrassi: The Next Generation include Jayne Eastwood as Sean Cameron's mother, Billy Ray Cyrus as Duke, a limousine driver who gets arrested, the result of which leaves Jimmy, Hazel, Paige, and Spinner stranded in the street. Season seven featured appearances from Shirley Douglas as a university professor, Free The Children founder Craig Kielburger, and English pop singer Natasha Bedingfield as themselves. Jonathan Torrens guest starred as Emma's father, Shane, in the two-part season three premiere. The character had been played by Bill Parrott in the original series, but he decided not to return the former role. In season 10, ballroom dancer Jean-Marc Généreux appears as a teacher during the episode "My Body Is a Cage". After moving to MuchMusic cameos became more frequent, including Keke Palmer, Ben Mulroney, Chaz Bono, Hedley, and Fefe Dobson.
Broadcast and distribution
While the earlier Degrassi series aired in Canada on CBC, Degrassi is broadcast on Bell Media-owned stations. Until mid-season 9, it aired on the CTV, but due to a decline in viewing figures since season 7, it moved to sister network MuchMusic in 2010. In 2013, following a revamp of MuchMusic's schedule, the show moved to MTV in Canada. It currently airs on ABC Spark and CMT and YTV as of 2020.
In the United States, Degrassi aired on Noggin's programming block for teenagers, The N. By 2004, it had become the highest-rated show on the block; an episode that aired July 2, 2004 was watched by a record 300,000 people, and Nielsen Media Research called it "the No. 1 program for Noggin viewers 12 to 17." Seasons 6 and 7 premiered on The N before they aired on CTV. During mid-season 9, the show was carried over to TeenNick, a channel that merged the programming of two Viacom-owned teen blocks (Noggin's The N and Nickelodeon's TEENick).
Before season 10, CTV executives told the production crew that they were cancelling the show. The co-creator Linda Schuyler and executive producer Stephen Stohn were unsure of the fate of the show after this meeting, but luckily Stohn had been in talks with his American partners at Viacom/TeenNick, and he offered a proposal that rescued the show from a premature end. Combined with the marketing efforts of TeenNick, the show was then able to avoid cancellation and continue for four more seasons. During this time, the show introduced the re-title of "Degrassi".
The show's cancellation was announced in June 2015. That same month, on June 9, Epitome Pictures announced that a sequel series, Degrassi: Next Class, would premiere on Family Channel, owned by DHX Media, and stream outside of Canada on Netflix. Episodes became available on Netflix in Canada following the conclusion of the first season.
In Canada, stripped reruns of Degrassi: The Next Generation have aired on CTV Two and MTV2, which are owned by Bell Media. In the United States, independent distributor Program Partners and Sony Pictures Television, announced on September 24, 2006, that they acquired the syndication rights to the first 119 episodes of the show in the United States, and any subsequent new episodes.
In December 2006, Sony Pictures Television and Program Partners had reached agreements with the Tribune Company for every station it owned, The CW Plus affiliated stations, and many other stations owned by major media conglomerates. Degrassi: The Next Generation was cleared in 60% of the country including all five of the top five media markets. By March 2007, Program Partners had cleared it in over 70% of the country after stations owned by Hearst-Argyle Television, Capitol Broadcasting Company, and ACME Communications purchased the syndication. The series meets the US FCC's educational and informational guidelines towards children's programming.
In October 2019, as part of a content deal struck between Viacom and WildBrain, a channel dedicated to Degrassi was added to Pluto TV on channel 172 (now channel 144) of the free, advertiser-supported streaming service's entertainment tier, offering episodes of Degrassi, with a limited number of episodes—including some consisted of portions of two-part episodes, such as "Bitter Sweet Symphony (Part 1)"—omitted from the episode rotation.
The first twelve seasons of Degrassi: The Next Generation have been released on DVD. The box sets are released in Canada by Alliance Home Entertainment. In the United States, FUNimation Entertainment released the first six seasons and Echo Bridge Entertainment released seasons seven through twelve. Each season boxset includes extra features such as pictures, karaoke sessions, audition tapes, bloopers, deleted scenes and more. In Australia, seasons 1 to 4 were released by Umbrella Entertainment in 2010 and 2011. These DVDs are compatible with the region 4 code, which is in use in, Oceania and Latin America.
The three-episode story arc from the fourth season in which Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes guest star has also been released as a single disc Region 1 DVD. FUNimation Entertainment released the disc on November 8, 2005, in two versions: the first subtitled as "Uncut, Uncensored and Unrated", and the second, "Rated." Each release has the same DVD extras, including an interview with Kevin Smith, bloopers and a Jay and Silent Bob Photo Album, except the Unrated release also features episode commentaries by Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Stacie Mistysyn, the associate producer Jim Jackman and writer Aaron Martin.
Degrassi: The Next Generation has been made available over various streaming platforms over the years. During the show's original run, episodes were made available to stream on CTV and TeenNick's websites in Canada and the United States respectively. It was also made available on iTunes in North America. In 2007, Puretracks in Canada offered episodes for download as a media file that could be only burned or copied three times. In the US, Zune sold the full series. All 14 seasons were made available to stream on HBO Max on March 25, 2022.
|Complete Season DVD Release|
|Release||Ep #||Release dates||Special Features|
|Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|Season One||15||October 19, 2004||September 28, 2004||N/A||May 3, 2007||
Degrassi Karaoke, Degrassi Photo Album, Character Descriptions, Cast Biographies, Deleted Scenes, Oops and Bloopers, Original Television Promos, and Audition Tapes.
|Season Two||22||June 21, 2005||N/A||September 8, 2010||
130+ Deleted/Extended Scenes and Bloopers, Cast Audition Tapes, Season 2 Second Call Back Tapes, "Poor Thing" Karaoke, Interactive Fan Quiz, Degrassi Yearbook, Snake and Spike's Wedding Album, Student and Adult Profiles, and Cast Biographies.
|Season Three||22||March 28, 2006||N/A||April 13, 2011||
Audio Commentaries ("Accidents Will Happen" and "Pride"), Deleted Scenes, "Rock and Roll High School" Karaoke, Season 3 Interactive Quiz, CTV Degrassi Promo, Degrassi Yearbook, and Character and Cast Biographies.
|Season Four||23||October 24, 2006||November 28, 2006||N/A||April 13, 2011||
Audio Commentaries ("Time Stands Still" and "Secret"), Deleted Scenes, Blooper Reel, Original Cast Auditions, Season 4 Interactive Quiz, Character and Cast Biographies, Jay and Silent Bob Flipbook, Degrassi Yearbook, and PAX Gun Violence Prevention Public Service Announcements.
|Season Five||19||July 3, 2007||N/A||N/A||
Deleted Scenes, Blooper Reel, Original Cast Auditions, Interview with Cassie Steele, Character and Cast Biographies, Degrassi Yearbook, Simple Plan Music Video and Interview, and Trailers.
|Season Six||19||May 27, 2008||N/A||N/A||
Deleted Scenes, Bloopers, Original Auditions, Character and Cast Biographies, Degrassi Yearbook, and Trailers.
|Season Seven||24||May 26, 2009||March 17, 2009||N/A||N/A||
Bloopers, Deleted Scenes, Photo Gallery, Webisodes, and "On The Set".
|Season Eight||23||September 1, 2009||N/A||N/A||
"Degrassi Goes Hollywood" The Movie, Bloopers, Deleted Scenes, Podcasts, Webisodes, "On The Set" Webisodes, and "My Window" Music Video.
|Season Nine||23||July 20, 2010||N/A||N/A||
"Degrassi Takes Manhattan" The Movie, Bloopers, Deleted Scenes, Webisodes and Minis, and Music Videos.
|Season Ten||44||October 18, 2011||September 13, 2011||N/A||N/A||
Episode Commentaries ("My Body Is A Cage" and "Umbrella"), Music Videos, Bloopers, and Webisodes.
|Season Eleven||45||December 3, 2013||N/A||N/A||
Meet the New Kids, The Gallery Shoot, Set Tour, Parking Lot Tour, From Rehearsal to Shooting, Goodbyes, Behind the Scenes, Deleted Scenes, Bloopers, and Webisodes.
|Season Twelve||40||October 29, 2013||N/A||N/A||
Back to Degrassi, New Kids on the Block, Shooting the Opening Sequence, 300th Episode Celebration, A Day with the Ice Hounds, Goodbye Uniforms, Inside Fiona's Birthday Brawl, Say Cheese: Photoshoot with Demetrius, Vanessa and Justice, The Making of Romeo & Jules, Bloopers, The Inside Look and The Table Read – Bitter Sweet Symphony, Graduation Day, Prom Night, The One and Only – Dylan Everett, Eli's Short Film – LIFE, Eli's Short Film – NYU Portfolio, Video Yearbook, and Episode Commentary.
|Season Thirteen||40||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||To Be Announced|
|Season Fourteen||28||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||To Be Announced|
Impact and reception
Degrassi: The Next Generation has received generally positive reviews. Entertainment Weekly has called it "a cult hit", and The New York Times named it "Tha Best Teen TV N da WRLD (The best teen TV in the world)". Of the first season, The Ottawa Citizen's Tony Atherton had mixed feelings of the new incarnation, saying it "has a cleaner, more polished look, has lost its edge [and offers] nothing new to viewers familiar with the groundbreaking preceding series, nor to anyone else who has watched the deluge of teen dramas since ... there is a sense of déjà vu with regards to the plots and characters". He did, however, praise the show for having "the same simple narrative told from a kid's viewpoint, and the same regard for unvarnished reality [as Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High]".
Before its debut in the United States, The Seattle Times' Melanie McFarland wondered whether the series would do well, writing: "soft-pedaling through the issues might work for today's family of viewers, but what's gentle enough for Mom and Dad's peace of mind might not be enough to hook Junior or the original Degrassi's older fans". The issues that the characters experience have often been commented on in the media. It has been noted that the series never attempts to hide from depicting honest accounts of the trials and tribulations that real teenagers may often experience. Sarah Liss from CBC News said that despite often being corny and soap opera-y, Degrassi: The Next Generation tackles issues that other genre series prefer to gloss over, and was part of her essential viewing. She named the series one of "the [ten] most important television shows of the 2000s", and was the only children's series, and the only Canadian television series, to appear on the list, which included Mad Men, Lost, the CSI franchise, and Sex and the City.
In 2008, Jeffrey Bento-Carrier described one storyline that showed a teacher being accused of sexually assaulting one of his students as "shock[ing]", adding that "Degrassi is not for everyone, mainly because it's an honest account what it's like to be a teen in a society which values cliques and confrontation over truth and real growth." Brian Orloff of the St. Petersburg Times echoed the sentiments, and praised the series for "stay[ing] in touch with teens' lives".
In spite of these comments, The N held back one of the more controversial episodes of the first season, which showed a character losing control after taking an ecstasy pill, and refused to broadcast it until it was presented with an edited copy from the producers. The N also refused to broadcast two episodes from the second season that featured a storyline about date-rape until suitable edits could be made, and withheld other episodes from season three that showed a fourteen-year-old character having an abortion after having consensual sexual intercourse with her boyfriend, and feeling no regrets. The decision caused an uproar amongst fans who organized a petition that caught the attention of the New York Times, as well as CBC, the National Post and the London Free Press in Canada. The episodes eventually aired three years later as part of an "every episode ever" marathon, with very little advertisement from the network. Another storyline was featured in the media after ten children from a Québécois school were found to have a number of cuts on their bodies. They said they had copied the show when one character began self harming herself in an episode.
Comparisons between Degrassi: The Next Generation and other genre specific series have also been made throughout the run. Jake Surette, a writer with AfterElton.com, a website which focuses on the portrayal of homosexual and bisexual men in the media, reported on the portrayal of two Degrassi: The Next Generation gay characters. "Degrassi features ongoing stories of real-life teen dilemmas—including intense gay and lesbian storylines—and does it without the righteous, 'On a Very Special Blossom' endings that many teen dramas and sitcoms thrive on." Kevin Thompson of The Palm Beach Post said the series "is told from a teenager's point of view since the writers have no interest in appealing to a broad-based demographic like the writers on, say, Fox's The O.C. ... it connects with teens on their level". PopMatters's Jodie Janella Horn also compared it with The O.C., saying that while scenes from Degrassi could be "actual scenes from my actual teenage life ... The O.C. will never remind me of anything in my life", adding that it is the most unnervingly accurate series ever of the high school genre.
The San Jose Mercury News has said "If they [Everwood, The O.C., and One Tree Hill] want to be taken seriously, the shows could take a cue from Canadian drama Degrassi: The Next Generation, which ... addresses the same gritty teen issues without being far-fetched". The New York Times has also made favourable reviews of the series in comparison to Everwood, The O.C., and One Tree Hill, as well as Beverly Hills, 90210, Gilmore Girls, Dawson's Creek, and adult series such as Sex and the City, Maude, and Six Feet Under. AOL TV ranked it as the sixth TV's Biggest Guilty Pleasure.
With characters from Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High appearing in Degrassi: The Next Generation, viewers of the earlier series who are in their 20s and 30s make up a dedicated fan base of the current incarnation. Approximately 40% of the series' viewers are outside of Degrassi: The Next Generation's 12- to 17-year-old target audience. Degrassi: The Next Generation averaged 365,000 viewers aged 12–20 years old in season one, and became the most watched domestic drama in Canada. By the end of season two, it had become the most popular Canadian show for the three youngest age groups (children aged 2–11, teenagers aged 12–17 and young adults aged 18–34).
In the third season, Degrassi: The Next Generation was again the most-watched all-Canadian drama series, and the most watched Canadian drama among adults 18–49. A season four episode that features a school shooting received 930,000 viewers; at that time it was the programme's highest-ever rating. A second episode in the same season that features a storyline about oral sex also earned just under 1,000,000 viewers. Overall, the season averaged 600,000 viewers, and was again the top Canadian drama for teens aged 12–17, and adults in three age brackets 18–34, 18–49 and 25–54. It averaged 250,000 viewers in the US in 2004 and was the highest rated digital cable series in the US in 2006. While that figure is still far lower than successful shows on the "big four" networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC), the premiere episodes of earlier seasons have achieved higher audience figures with females aged 12–34. 2004 also saw the school-shooting episode receive more than half a million US viewers. The fifth season drew in an average of 767,000 viewers, with episode two of the season being watched by 1,000,000 viewers.
Ratings began to decline halfway through the series' run. In Canada, season six was watched by fewer viewers than had watched season five; episode fourteen was the highest-viewed episode of the season, with a total of 645,000 viewers. The season finale was watched by 520,000 viewers, and the season overall averaged 522,000 viewers. The average viewing figures fell again during the seventh season. The season premiere achieved the highest figures with 585,000 viewers. This progressively dropped over the coming weeks, from 446,000 total viewers for the third episode, to 407,000 total viewers for the fifth episode, and continued to fall to a low of 314,000 viewers by the tenth episode. Overall, the first twelve episodes of the season averaged 455,000 viewers, 45,000 less than the same number of episodes from the season six.
Viewing figures continued to fall throughout season eight; Bill Brioux, the television columnist for The Canadian Press, was surprised that Degrassi: The Next Generation had even reached its eighth season with such poor ratings, asking "What other show in the history of Canadian or American television has so consistently drawn so few viewers yet gets renewed year after year?" The season premiere was watched by 398,000 viewers, almost 200,000 viewers fewer than what the premiere of season seven achieved. Viewing figures continued to drop when episodes two and six were both watched by an average of 220,000 viewers. At the time they were the lowest figures Degrassi: The Next Generation has ever received; however, they continued to fall and by episode eleven, overnight ratings indicated it had received 139,000 viewers.
The overall number of viewers rose slightly for the thirteenth episode, the first of a two-parter, when it was watched by 157,000 people, but the viewing figures for the key 18–34 demographics was at a low of 81,000. The following week, the episode that concluded the two-parter picked up viewers, reaching an estimated total of 206,000. Brioux commented again about Degrassi: The Next Generation still being on the schedules, wondering when CTV was going to announce its cancellation and noting that The Amazing Race, which follows it in the scheduling, was watched by ten times the number of Degrassi's viewers. That pattern was repeated the following week, when Degrassi: The Next Generation was watched by 222,000 viewers, compared to 1,834,000 viewers for The Amazing Race, 1,579,000 viewers for Desperate Housewives and 1,106,000 viewers for The Mentalist, which were broadcast by CTV later in the evening.
CTV aired two episodes back-to-back in the first half of season nine, and the scheduling had improved ratings. The first two episodes earned a combined figure of 471,000 viewers, and the third and fourth episodes retained them; they were watched by a combined 475,000 viewers. The following week, the total viewing figures for episodes five and six had increased to 608,000, and remained high as the season went into hiatus in November with 572,000 total viewers.
Degrassi: The Next Generation has won over fifty awards, and has been nominated for many others. The Writers Guild of Canada has awarded its Canadian Screenwriting Awards to the writers of two episodes. In 2004, Aaron Martin, James Hurst and Shelley Scarrow won the "Best Youth Script Award" for "Pride". The following year, the Scarrow-penned episode "Secret" vied with "Mercy Street", written by James Hurst and Miklos Perlus for the "Best Youth Script Award". "Mercy Street" won. The series has been nominated for fourteen Directors Guild of Canada Awards. In the "Outstanding Achievement in a Television Series – Children's" group category, the Bruce McDonald helmed "Mother and Child Reunion" (nominated 2002) and "When Doves Cry" (nominated 2003) were winners.
"White Wedding", also directed by McDonald, won the award in 2003 for "Outstanding Achievement in Direction – Television Series". McDonald's "Holiday" (nominated 2004), and Stefan Scaini's "Time Stands Still, part 2" (nominated 2005) won the group categories for "Outstanding Achievement in a Television Series – Family". "Can't Hardly Wait" and "Pass the Dutchie" were also nominated in that category in 2007 and 2008, respectively, but failed to win the awards. Stephen Withrow has picked up two awards in the "Outstanding Achievement in Picture Editing" category, for "Mother and Child Reunion" in 2002 and "When Doves Cry" in 2003. Degrassi: The Next Generation has won seventeen Gemini Awards since 2002, and has been nominated in twenty-six other categories. In 2010, producer Linda Schuyler received the Academy Achievement Award.
Degrassi: The Next Generation has also seen awards success internationally. It was nominated for a "Best Children's Television Programme" Prix Jeunesse in Germany in 2004, and has been nominated at the GLAAD Media Awards four times. In 2004, the show received a nomination in the Outstanding Drama Series category, but lost to the sports drama Playmakers. It was nominated in the same category again in 2008, but lost to Brothers & Sisters. In 2005, Degrassi: The Next Generation won the Television Critics Association Award for "Outstanding Achievement in Children's Programming." It was only the second time that a non-United States series has won an award in this category (the first time was Degrassi Junior High in 1988).
The Young Artist Awards has been recognising actors in the Degrassi franchise since 1987. Degrassi: The Next Generation was nominated for four awards in its first year. Ryan Cooley and Jake Goldsbie were nominated in the "Best Leading Young Actor Performance in a TV Comedy Series" category, but lost to Frankie Muniz from Malcolm in the Middle. The series won the award for "Best Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama TV Series" category. A year later, Jake Epstein won the Young Artist Award in the category for "Best Leading Young Actor Performance in a TV Comedy Series". In 2005, Christina Schmidt tied with Alia Shawkat of Arrested Development to win the award for "Best Supporting Young Actress Performance in a TV Comedy Series", and Jamie Johnston won the 2008 category for "Best Leading Young Actor Performance in a TV Series". Young Artist Awards were awarded again in 2012, with both Cristine Prosperi and A.J. Saudin winning awards in the Lead Young Actress and Recurring Young Actor categories respectively. However, they both tied with another in their category.
At the Teen Choice Awards, children aged between twelve and nineteen vote for each category's winner. The series has been nominated three times in the "Choice Summer TV Show" category, and has won twice, in 2005 and 2007. The episode "My Body Is a Cage", where Adam was outed as transgender, earned a Peabody Award, and a Creative Arts Emmy Award nomination in 2011.
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