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



Spring 2013 Television
Ages: 13 & Up
Producer: Nickelodeon
Rating: TV PG

Though Canadian teen drama Degrassi has been around long enough to see many teen trends come and go, it continues to attract new viewers. Now in its twelfth season, the show, formerly known as Degrassi: The Next Generation, maintains a telenovela feel with short, jam-packed episodes numbering forty per season.

Time has different meaning in the Degrassi world, and over its dozen seasons only three school years have passed. This allows the writers to focus on the high school experience in great detail without the ever-awkward transition to college that most teen high shows inevitably face. (Think of Glee) Over the years, the story lines and production value has matured along with the acting. While not as flashy or marketable as other teen shows, Degrassi maintains its roots in topical, realistic story lines. The show features a hefty ensemble cast of twenty-seven diverse actors, which makes it a bit hard to follow at times. However, that large cast enables the show to portray the chaotic, drama-filed high school years fairly accurately. The show deals with common high school problems such as bullying, peer pressure, and depression, but goes even deeper into the underlying issues like homophobia, trouble at home, and academic achievement pressure.

What keeps Degrassi from feeling like an endless barrage of morality lessons is character development and attention to detail. In addition to big life issues, these kids deal also have to contend with inadequate sleeping habits, scheduling conflicts and even diet fads in a very real and relatable way. Bolder than most in subject matter, the show nevertheless demonstrates that it is not just a soap opera by offering lots of web based support on the topics it portrays.

Laura Fries   ©2013 Parents' Choice
A freelance writer and 20 year member of the Television Critics Association Laura has been writing about television and film entertainment for more years than she cares to admit. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alexandria, Virginia.

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