Now, I may just be emotional here, because in a small span of time I’ve lost Mad Men, Parks and Recreation, Eye Candy (hey, it was entertaining!), and Happy Endings (I don’t care how long ago it was I’ll never be over it), but I feel like losing a TV show that you watched religiously, especially a long-running one, is like losing a friend – or maybe at least a pretty cool acquaintance.
And now I hear that after a two-week finale event, Degrassi will be ending it’s 14-year run as well (though Vulture later reported it was only ending its run at Teen Nick?).
Now, when it comes to long-running series on my list, Degrassi is pretty much as long as it gets. The original show, Degrassi Junior High began in 1987 and continued through 1991. Now, let’s be honest, I obviously wasn’t watching that. However, I have seen it, and I think I even have a few episodes on iTunes, because I went through a phase where I would download anything on the shop that was free… but I digress.
Degrassi: The Next Generation then picked up in 2001, using characters from the original series as moms, dads, and even teachers at the school for the new series, and that’s when I became a fan (maybe not exactly then but the channel formerly known as Noggin/Teen Nick had marathons so I eventually caught on).
And god was it great. You had sassy, mean girl Paige (Lauren Collins), who you loved to hate, her (mostly) loyal subject Hazel (Andrea Lewis), hot – but sometimes mean – jocks Spinner and Jimmy (Shane Kippel, Aubrey DRAKE Graham), the artistic ones Craig (Jake Epstein, who I may have been in love with) and Ashley (Melissa McIntyre), everybody’s best friend Terri (Christina Schmidt) and Marco (Adamo Ruggiero), and the outcast Alex (Deanna Casaluce).
Of course it also began with dorky “Grade 7’s” entering the picture, like Emma Nelson (not sure why I feel like I need to use her last name – Miriam McDonald), who always seemed to be championing a cause, nerdy Toby (Jake Goldsbie), earnest J.T. (MISS YOU FOREVER, Ryan Cooley), Type A Liberty (Sarah Barrable-Tishauer), Manny (Cassie Steele), who goes on to become the school slut (Hey, I didn’t write it), and bad boy Sean (Daniel Clark – crush to end all crushes).
Now of course, there are about a million people I’m leaving out, because this is Degrassi and the characters/actors fluctuated like a daytime soap opera. Come to think of it, I grew up with my mother and grandmother obsessed with the drama on Days of Our Lives – my name was inspired by Kayla Brady on the series – so maybe this was my fix?
Either way, it was a lot. I mean, the series premiere has young Emma running off to meet this guy online (he’s totally cool, guys – he loves the environment, too!), lying to her friends about it, and then finding herself stuck in a hotel bathroom when she locks herself in there after discovering her “date” was actually a grown man.
That’s some pretty intense stuff for a first episode of a kids’ show. But, it is Degrassi, and as they like to say: “It goes there.” And it certainly has “gone there,” for the last 14 years, as the show has covered pregnancy, abortion, prejudice, coming out, experimenting with your sexuality, transgender issues and struggles with identity, school shooting, gang violence, domestic violence, drug abuse, STDs, rape, homelessness, cancer, cutting, anorexia/bulimia, affairs, and suicide, and I’m sure I’m leaving something out.
Drake famously starred on the series, but there were plenty of other star appearances, such as 90210‘s Shanae Grimes, The Vampire Diaries‘ Nina Dobrev, and Pretty Little Liars‘ Shay Mitchell even made a cameo in one episode.
However, Teen Nick has announced that the after school special that never ends will finally do just that this summer, following a two-week finale event that begins on July 20. Its official end comes July 31 with an hour-long special called – what else – It Goes There: Degrassi’s Most Talked About Moments.
While I haven’t watched it religiously, or with quite as much enthusiasm in recent years, I have to admit that I would still check in every now and then, if I had free time – a lazy weekend or a sick day, you know? There’s just something there with this wild show that I was so invested in for so many years.
I’ll just never forget those sleepovers where we’d stretch out in front of the TV to catch a marathon, waiting to be shocked by Craig hooking up with Manny – EVEN THOUGH HE WAS DATING ASHLEY – the girls forming Hell Hath No Fury like badasses to go up against the guys, Sean moving home after that terrifying school shooting (UM, JIMMY WAS SHOT, GUYS), or that time Paige showed her attacker what’s what by crashing his car (but then she did have to pay for the damage to her man Spinner’s wheels).
In their coverage, Vulture joked: “Whatever it takes was all a lie,” and I couldn’t help but laugh, because if you were a fan of the show then you heard that cheesy, upbeat theme song about a million times.
But all things must come to an end, so now all we can do is hope for a great cast reunion on the series finale (Come on Drake, you knowww you want to).
Until next time,