The Degrassi approach to children's drama
(CBC Still Photo Collection)
From eating disorders, drug abuse and racism to domestic violence, homosexuality and teen pregnancy, Degrassi Junior High
isn't afraid to tackle touchy subjects. The show's realistic blend of humour and teen crises has made it a favourite for fans and TV critics alike.
On this June 4, 1989 CBC Radio panel on social issues in children's drama, Degrassi co-creator Linda Schuyler says her approach doesn't preach to the show's teen audience.
Husband-and-wife team Kit Hood and Schuyler created Degrassi Junior High
through their production company, Playing With Time. The show ran first on the CBC and was picked up by broadcasters around the world and played in over 40 countries, including China, South Africa and the United States.
All the teen actors in the show were amateurs. About half came from the east Toronto neighbourhood near real-life De Grassi Street, and the rest from across the city.Degrassi Junior High
was one of a series of programs created by Schuyler and Hood. Their first program to air on the CBC was The Kids of Degrassi Street
from 1979 to 1986. Several cast members made the move to Degrassi Junior High
, which ran for three seasons before being succeeded by Degrassi High
TV critics applauded Degrassi Junior High
, calling it "a series that dispenses with tidy morality and goes for the gut" and "a tough, compelling slice of life." In 1988 the show won four Gemini Awards and drew 1.7 million viewers in its season debut.
The TV movie School's Out!
wrapped things up in 1991, followed by Degrassi Talks
, in which the show's actors discussed issues with real teens.
In 2001 Schuyler created CTV's Degrassi: The Next Generation
, featuring a new cast of teens. Several characters from Degrassi Junior High
also appear on this show. "Snake" is now a high-school teacher married to "Spike," the teen mom of the original series. Her daughter, "Emma," is a core character in the teen ensemble. "Joey" and "Caitlin" have also appeared in the new series.
Posted on Sep 3, 2011 6:00:00 AM