I've written before about my love for "Degrassi," that Canadian teen franchise that "goes there." I've been a fan since the late 80s when I got hooked on "Degrassi Junior High" and "Degrassi High." I jumped on board several years later when "Degrassi: The Next Generation" debuted on cable and watched for several years while its actors aged and the program lost its title adjectives. Then, about five years ago, I lost track of the program and moved on.
A couple months ago, I was searching on Netflicks and decided to see if they were airing old episodes of "Degrassi." They weren't, but the online network indicated that a new season would be airing in January. I received notice earlier this month that "Degrassi: Next Class" made its debut and I binge-watched the entire season earlier this week.
It shouldn't be a shocker, but I don't recognize any of these kids. I'm assuming that some of them appeared before this season, but they're all fresh and new for me. It was difficult for me to figure out most of the students' grade levels, but I suspect that this is deliberate. I like the new theme music. Familiar tune, but fresh and engaging.
If you've never heard of "Degrassi," this is how it works. It's about the teens, their romances, and their misadventures. An average episode doles out equal portions of character development in some, while exploring topical issues (such as teen masturbation, cystic fibrosis, or how to respond to a suspected STI) with other teens.
Here were some of the main plot-lines:
Maya and Zig are a power-couple at Degrassi High. Zig is happy with their relationship, though he's frustrated because Maya is focused on her new band and on her classes, and definitely because she keeps pushing back whenever he wants to get intimate. Eventually, he lets his insecurities get the better of him, which doesn't bode well for this teen romance!
Speaking of Maya, she has a golden (one might say, auto-tuned) voice and really wants to focus on her music. So she, her friend Grace, and attractive guitarist Jonah start a band and begin playing in a local bar. Maya and Jonah's collaberative relationship sets off Zig's jealousy big time.
During a performance, Maya takes offense at several incidents of sexist micro-aggressions and ends up writing a hit feminist song called "Not Okay." This attracts the attention of the school's Feminist Club and she ends up becoming the club's vice president.
Meanwhile, gay old Tristan runs for school president against his ex-boyfriend Miles. Miles wins the vote, but ultimately loses the election after Tristan reveals that Miles exceeded the campaign spending rules. Tristan spends most of the season fuming over Miles and hooking up with various gay teens.
Speaking of Miles, he finds himself struggling with family-related anxiety and begins having panic attacks. New girl Esme starts feeding him a steady supply for stolen prescription medications and pretty soon our guy is struggling with addiction!
Lastly, the Feminist Club takes aims at Hunter and his Gaming Club for being sexist and misogynistic. This leads to some serious online trolling against one of Feminist Club members. Serious stuff like anonymous rape threats, doxxing this girl, and swatting her home.
There was a bunch of other good stuff and I really encourage you to check out "Degrassi: Next Class" season one on Netflix. It will leave you salivating for season two!
Updated to Add: The first line of the first episode of the first season begins with a quote about Drake. Which got me hooting, given that he was part of the first batch of students in "Degrassi: The Next Generation!"