'Degrassi' creator discusses major issues on Canadian teen drama

Degrassi is the show that anyone can relate to. Even if you're not a teen, the issues on Degrassi are those you faced as a teen. The show started as Degrassi:The Next Generation, following Emma Nelson and her friends as they made the transition first into middle school and then into high school. They dealt with everything from Internet pedophilia to embarrassing erections. This past week marked the 300th episode of the cult series, and though a new group of students walk the halls of Degrassi High School, the problems are neverending as KC and Jenna raise a baby or Alli turns to speed to stay awake at night! 

Though the show has ran for 13 seasons, creator Linda Schuyler told Entertainment Weekly there is no intentions to stop any time soon. The key to Degrassi's success? She says authenitcity. "An authentic portrayal of teenage years. And although we get a lot of character loyalty, our audience is fascinated by that high school experience. Strangely enough, it’s almost like the school itself is the centerpiece of the show. We have a few founding principles that we adhere to. We’re very strict [about] age appropriate casting. We’re very big on celebration of diversity — racial, sexual, economic — and creating an environment for young people that makes them feel like they’re not completely alone."
For many teens Degrassi is the only place where they see characters who are just like them. Unlike other shows it's not uncommon to see someone who is overweight, has zits or untamed hair. Every social group is represented and don't necessarily all get along.

Not only does Schuyler beam in pride over Degrassi's authenticity, but she also is happy with the topics they have covered over the years. "We’ll deal with some very heavy issues, but we’ll also deal with some wickedly silly issues as well," she said. "I was really proud of the one we kicked of the show with, which included a cyber stalker. In season 3 we did a gay bashing arc episode with Marco. We did the self-mutilation episode with Ellie, and then of course there’s the Jimmy shooting episode. And the storyline that’s going through right now is our whole transgender storyline, of which I’m very proud."
Schuyler is mum on what fans can expect this season, but writers are meeting in November to brainstorm where to take the show this year. Long live Degrassi!

- Degrassi

Written by: mawarner
Nov 13th, 2012, 11:14 pm

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