We all have that one TV show that means the world to us. Whether you’re a diehard Sherlock fan or a nihilistic BoJack Horseman hipster, it seems like everyone nowadays has that one show that’s been there for them time after time. It’s the kind of show that you watch when you need to decompress after a long day or if you need something to distract yourself from the gigantic pile of work you’ve been putting off. It’s the go-to source of entertainment that if you didn’t have in your life, you’d have a lot more free time on your hands and no idea what to do with it. For me, that show was Degrassi.
At some point in everyone’s life, they’ve heard about Degrassi from a friend or have even seen an episode or two just out of curiosity. For me, I was bit by the Degrassi bug in my senior year of high school and my obsession has only grown larger and larger since then. Instead of actively applying to colleges and getting my life together when I was 17, I spent every free moment I had consistently worrying over the fictional lives of teenagers in Toronto. While friends around me were dealing with relationships, drug use, and generally where they stood in the world, I decided to ignore all of that and live vicariously through the best that Canadian YA melodrama had to offer. I have been with Degrassi for approximately 18 seasons worth of programming. I was there for the death of JT Yorke, Riley Stavros coming out of the closet, and the wedding between Spinner Mason and Emma Nelson. When I say that I’m a “fan” of Degrassi, it’s an understatement unlike any other. With that being said, what do I do now that the show has been cancelled?
I was bit by the Degrassi bug in my senior year of high school and my obsession has only grown larger and larger since then.
On Mar. 7 of this year, longtime cast member and producer Stefan Brogren confirmed that the latest incarnation of the Degrassi franchise, Next Class, had been cancelled after four seasons on Netflix and the Family Channel in Canada. This decision came as a huge shock to Degrassi fans all over, but what’s even more nerve-racking are the possible outcomes of this upsetting cancellation. The first possibility is one that a super fan like me is hoping for: a reboot of the series, which isn’t really out-of-the-ordinary for a show like this. After Degrassi High left the air back in 1991, and the 1992 made-for-TV movie School’s Out , it took over nine years for the franchise to come back as Degrassi: The Next Generation. With this move, the franchise captured the hearts of a new audience of young viewers like myself who were growing up in the early days of the Internet and witnessing firsthand the rise of smartphone technology in everyday life. Suddenly, the kids that were beloved back in the glory days of the 80s were now parents and teachers whose own kids were taking the lead and teaching us to fall in love with the complicated nature of adolescence all over again. The possibility of a reboot is exciting and brings fans the hope of a bigger and better series on the horizon. However, that is only one possible road that the Degrassi makers can go down.
On the grimmer side of the cancellation, the end to Next Class might be the ultimate end to Degrassi as we know it. This incarnation of the franchise was only on for four seasons and most of the main characters that we grew to love were not only introduced in the later days of Next Gen, but had also “graduated” in the season four finale of Next Class. This meant that the writers either had to immediately develop new characters to keep the show running or hold onto the graduates’ popularity until they could come up with worthy successors. Choosing to end the series is a scary proposition because it suggests that the Degrassi showrunners are tapped out when it comes to ideas. If that’s the case and the chances of seeing a Degrassi reboot are non-existent, what will the Degrassi superfans do with their favorite show off the air? Sure, we can rewatch all the episodes that made us fall in love with Canadian TV, but how long can a whole generation of viewers live in the past before they go crazy? There’s no other show out there that has the light-hearted drama and continuity that Degrassi had. It seems almost unfeasible to recreate such a uniquely structured franchise.
It’s sad to say, but pop culture could now be witness to the mass displacement of fans spread from the shores of Newfoundland all the way down to the beaches of Florida.