I was in 6th grade when Degrassi: The Next Generation started, a part of their primary demographic of millennials. By middle school I was hooked and managed to get my friends hooked on this lethal concoction of contrived teen drama. Little did I know at the time that this show would be my gateway drug into more mature–and equally ridiculous–teen dramas like Skins (UK). And little did I know how much some of these episodes and characters from the first few seasons would stick with me. Honestly, I’m pretty sure that I know the details of Emma Nelson’s first period better than my own.
From issues of abuse, to body image, and puberty and sex, Degrassi–as its old catch phrase assured–”goes there.” There was nothing like it on the air at the time, and though even my 14-year-old self knew that these Canadian darlings weren’t the best actors in the world, I knew that this might still be one of the best shows in the world. It’s still running, but I gave up on it right before Drake–ha–and a good chunk of the original cast made their leave. But this show has left me with enough moments and memories to make this one of the most formative shows I’ve encountered. Here’s a list of 15 moments from Degrassi that totally changed my life–though I’m sure there are more!
Manny's Big MakeoverManny's transformation to the girl next door to the girl whose thong is always on display was pretty swift. But wow, tube tops, middriff, low rise pants and visible thong was an early 00s wet dream, so this was deffo somethin for the record books.Source: Degrassi Wiki
Emma Gets Her PeriodEmma starting her period wouldn't have been so legendary if it wasn't for the fact that it started on the day that she wore her new, white mini-skirt to school. How embarrassing.
Ashley Goes From Prep To Goth In Under 3 EpisodesAshley took some E, lost all her friends and then became sorta...a goth? Or something vaguely subversive? I don't know but there was a lot of black clothes and moping around, and what's more alluring to a 14 year old girl without many problems than angst?Source: Degrassi Wiki
Jimmy Gets Shot In The School ShootingBefore wheelchair Jimmy became wheelchair Jimmy he was just Jimmy...and then he got shot by Rick because Rick was bullied and mad or whatever. Tough break but at least he persevered and became an international hip-hop sensation. Started from the bottom now he's Drake.Source: Degrassi Wiki
Terri And Rick's Awful RelationshipCan we please talk about how, before Rick shot up Degrassi, he dated Terri for a few episodes? We were supposed to think it was all cute until it became obvious that this dude was a possessive weirdo. But the classic moment came when a fight between them ended with Rick pushing Terri and causing her to hit her head on a rock. I think she was in a coma or something, I don't know. She was barely on the show after that incident and Rick was systematically bullied for being an abusive jerk. It was one of the first times that I didn't mind public humiliation.Source: Degrassi Wiki
Emma Learns That The Internet Is CreepyThe stranger danger pilot episode. Basically, Emma meets up with some creep from the Internet in a hotel before her friends find out what's going on and get some help. Basically, don't trust photos that dudes on the Internet claim is them. Especially if they have a video camera set up in their hotel room. As I re-watched this last night, I was just expecting it to turn into an episode of To Catch A Predator. Source: YouTube
Manny's Abortion That Didn't Air In AmericaCraig got Manny pregnant! And she didn't want to go through with the pregnancy! So she got an abortion--but wait a second. Fun fact: This episode wasn't even aired in the US for ages. I only knew about the abortion subplot from a friend who apparently had the inside scoop on what aired on Canadian television. Why they had to keep the abortion on the DL, we'll never know, but wow...what an ep.Source: Degrassi Wiki
Hazel's One PlotlineSo one time they actually gave Hazel, one of the only black girls on the show, a storyline about being embarrassed about her immigrant background. And it was actually surprisingly powerful Nd resonated with me, who was going through her own identity weirdness at the time. Of course, that was like the only time she really had her own plot. Don't get me started on that...Source: Degrassi Wiki
Paige Stands Up To Her RapistPaige's douchebag rapist thought it would be cute to intimidate her while she was performing in a talent show. Well, Paige refused to let him have power I her and sang the song that was about her assault right in his face, in total riot grrl mode. In all seriousness, however, as cheesy and heavy handed as this show was 90% of the time, inretrospect they handled this plot line pretty well. Source: YouTube
Craig Serenading AshleyNothing says "I'm sorry for cheating on you with this chick I keep hooking up with and will eventually accidentally impregnate" than a song that you wrote. If it'll really work isn't the point. The point is that this dude performed an alt-rock apology and I guess we're supposed to find that hot by default. It worked, they were right.Source: YouTube
Craig In GeneralCraig was like an early 00s Canadian Garage rock babe, just with a lot of personal problems and an inability to stay out of trouble. He was abused, bipolar, played guitar and did photography...and later had a drug problem. Essentially the perfect misunderstood cute dude who wore his heart on his sleeve. Wow, I'm suddenly realizing how attracted I was to this dude. Source: Degrassi Wiki
That Band...Oh yeah, and Craig had a band with Drake, Spinner and Marco, the token gay kid in the Degrassi crew at the time. They were called Downtown Sasquatch and they were God awful. It was beautiful. Source: Degrassi Wiki
Ashley Discovers That Her Dad Is GayI don't think that I even made the connection of men realizing they're gay later in life, after having children with women, until this episode. Pretty big eye opener.Source: YouTube
Sean And Emma's KissI included this moment because I remember watching it for the first time and thinking that it was the ugliest kiss I've ever seen, and I knew that I refused to have my first kiss look like that. Of course, I'm still waiting on that so I guess that they know something that I don't. Go figure. Source: YouTube
JT's DeathConfession: My interest in Degrassi waned by the time JT got stabbed, so I heard the news very second hand from a friend. This episode signaled a lot to me: The death of innocence, the end of an era and weird confirmation that Liberty was almost hot now that she didn't dress so homely.Source: Degrassi Wiki
How many of you watched the early seasons of Degrassi? Are you still watching it now? What Degrassi moment stands out the most for you? Tell us in the comments!