Growing Up and Apart with 'Degrassi'
It took me a week to gather my thoughts and say a fond farewell to the teen soap opera I grew up with and identified with for 13 years. In true Degrassi fashion, this post may appear overdramatic at first but will soon "go there."
In 2002, I was an awkward 12-year-old kid living in a suburb of Los Angeles. One night, scrolling through the channels, I came across this channel called The-N. There was this show playing I had never heard of called Degrassi: The Next Generation. After witnessing how awkward J.T. (Ryan Cooley) and Toby (Jake Goldsbie) were, I finally found a show I could relate to. Spending my time watching shows like Beverly Hills, 90210, The O.C., and Dawson's Creek, I felt like I was watching shows about teenagers astronomically older than I was. So, it was clear that maybe one day I would go through those issues in high school, but that would be lightyears away. Finally, here was a show starring kids my age in 7th and 8th grade going through the same things I was going through. I was instantly hooked.
It didn't take long for me to have my weekly routine down to fit in an episode. I was growing up with these characters, and I wasn't even realizing it. The first defining moment of the series that resonated with me was Marco's (Adamo Ruggiero) storyline in Season 2. I feel like his struggles were as real as mine during both of our lives in this period. Flashing forward 13 years, it's amazing to see how far the show has come and how many lives it has touched.
Yes, the show may have seemed to overrun its course on television, but it had consistent ratings because it told a story to young people they could relate to. I was an avid viewer from 2010 and on hoping that a cameo appearance from a past character would happen, but they were few and far between. It was at that point that I began to realize that I was growing apart from the show. Like the actors from the first generation of this series, I've gone to high school, college, grad school and have moved on with my life just as they have moved on with their careers. The ending of this series poises a turning point in my life as well as the lives of the audience for this show. It is moving to Netflix in 2016 with a slightly new premise to reach younger audiences. At this point, it is safe to say I am bowing out and moving on from it as a viewer. Not only do I miss the mark as their target demo, I also want to remember the years of Degrassi for what it was to me. It was a huge part of my growing up experience.
The show was cheesy, dramatic, over-the-top, funny, smart, and relatable all in one fell swoop. No high school hall had to deal with the amount of drama that Degrassi Community School endured, but the show depicted situations that were happening all over the country at that time. It is on that token that the show was relatable to so many people. I hope the next carnation of the show is as successful as its predecessor. Maybe in the Netflix series, they'll finally find Teri.
Goodbye Degrassi. You went there.