Degrassi 'tha best' teen TV: NY Times

Degrassi ‘tha best’ teen TV: NY Times

John McKay
Canadian Press

TORONTO (CP) — Although it’s been on Canadian TV for 25 years in various incarnations, the Degrassi series franchise continues to develop a whole new following in the U.S. and around the world.

The latest boost to CTV’s current teen series Degrassi: The Next Generation has come in a six-page article in last weekend’s New York Times magazine under the headline: “DGrassi Is tha Best Teen TV N da WRLD”.

The media love letter notes that the series has become the most popular series on The N, a teen Nickelodeon spinoff channel. Although the Viacom-owned specialty outlet is seen in fewer households than conventional TV or even major cable channels like MTV, Degrassi has managed to beat mainstream youth shows like Joan of Arcadia and Eight Simple Rules in the ratings.

The article attributes Degrassi’s cult status among American teens to the fact its stars are really teens and look like it, not 20-somethings playing kids, and also to the series’ determination to deal openly with edgy issues from abortion to date rape and homosexuality.

“Degrassi: The Next Generation confronts controversy in a way that American network television wouldn’t dream of,” says the article’s author Ben Neihart, who also points out that’s why many of the show’s episodes have been censored. In some cases, networks like the BBC and PBS stopped showing it altogether.

Last summer, the show’s cast was sent on a tour of American shopping malls and young fans lined up for miles to see their heroes.

CTV announced recently that the series has been renewed for yet another season, noting Degrassi remains Canada’s most-watched homegrown drama for teens and adults.

Meanwhile, in Toronto’s east end, not far from the street that gave the Degrassi series its name, a bar-restaurant officially gets its new name, DeGrassi House, this Friday. The venue has no official connection to the TV franchise but a spokesperson for the series says “anything that’s going to celebrate the show is a good thing.”

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