Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Degrassi: The Next Generation

Degrassi: The Next Generation

Spring 2010 Television
Ages: 14 - 17 yrs.
Network: TeenNick
Degrassi: The Next Generation is an hour-long drama produced in Canada, and is the fourth series from the popular Degrassi franchise. This program follows a large cast of characters as they figure out where they fit in the complex social puzzle that is high school, and it employs the usual stuff of teen soap operas- e.g., peer pressure, relationships, drug use, cliques.

While the storylines are familiar, writers thankfully resist letting them play out in familiar ways. Yes, the series does dial up the melodrama with some far-fetched plotlines - like the teen mom who juggles parenting, high school and a successful career as an international model. But for every one of those, there's a brainiac figuring out how to deal with her first real boyfriend, or an aspiring rock star who has to accept the fact that fame may not be in his future.

The focus here really does seem to be on finding positive ways to deal with adolescent challenges - and that's in stark contrast to similar teen soap-operas which tend to exploit those challenges and gratuitously glorify partying, sex, fashion and status. Most refreshing of all is that the actors on Degrassi: The Next Generation look like teens because they actually are teens, not a bunch of overly processed, coiffed and styled twenty-somethings hired to play high schoolers.

Perhaps the Degrassi franchise owes its longevity to the fact that it offers characters, not caricatures. The end-result means young viewers are more likely to relate to what they see and even learn from it.

Gina Catanzarite   ©2010 Parents' Choice
Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster's Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.

Look for this product at:
TeenNick/Epitome Pictures

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