Degrassi Fans Are Crazy!
Stars from The N’s controversial teen drama don’t sell out stadiums when they go on tour, but they sure do wreak havoc on a mall.
By Liza Steinberg
Sep 30, 2005 12:00AM EDT
When we pull into the parking lot at the Woodbridge Center mall in Woodbridge, New Jersey we’re thinking “Is Orlando Bloom here? Hilary Duff? The President? Okay, maybe not the President. Point is: it’s a mob scene. There is a sea of screaming fans clambering to get a glimpse of Paige (Lauren Collins and Marco (Adamo Ruggiero), two of the stars of The N’s mega hit, Degrassi: The Next Generation.
The actors have traveled south from Canada, where they live and tape the show, for The Scene Tour. And apparently over a thousand fans have traveled from the ends of the earth to see them. There are girls professing their love via homemade signs, t-shirts, gifts and occasional exclamations (‘Adamo, youre soooo hot!’). The line snakes around the Cinnabon-scented mall perimeter and is patrolled by more security than an airport check-in gate.
After we cut through the crowd, were escorted to the greenroom to meet up with Collins and Ruggiero to find out why — after 25 seasons (yes, 25) — the show is still so popular. Before they head out to face the crowd, they gave it to us honestly:
Degrassi is a show about real kids, Collins explains, It’s not glamming up the teenage lifestyle at all. It prides itself on being realistic.
Its kinda like 90210, Ruggiero adds, “but minus the glamour. Its very Canadian, very raw.
That’s probably the understatement of the year. Degrassi is famous for tackling issues American shows — even One Tree Hill and The O.C. — wouldnt dare touch. In the past few seasons, Collin’s character was date raped — a plot line that was followed through a trial, which Paige ultimately lost. Paige also began a pretty serious relationship with a teacher at school, only to be ratted out by a friend.
Ruggieros’s character, Marco, struggled with his sexuality before coming out to his mom and his friends. Last season, he discovered his boyfriend cheating with another guy. There have also been episodes dealing with STDs, oral sex, bi-polarity, alcoholism, a school shooting and just about every heavy situation you can think of.
I think that for us, Ruggiero says, since we play characters that are so close to our actual age, we can relate to most of the issues we deal with — and know people whove gone through them. While were chatting, a man peeks his head into the room and says, Five minutes until show time. So we get down to the important question: season five kicks off on October 7 and we want a sneak peek of whats going to go down.
Every year were always like: what else can they come up with? Collins says, Weve dealt with everything!
Weve been through so much stuff!” adds Ruggiero, “Leave us alone!
No chance of that. This season, Collins says at the end of every script youre like oh my god, I cant believe thats happening!
Ruggiero agrees, “There are going to be relationships that will blow your mind. We press for clues, but theyre not budging. Instead, Collins takes out an MP3 player and cues it up. She offers one ear bud to Ruggiero, keeps one for herself, and together, they hold hands and get psyched up to slap their autographs on everything from sneakers to body parts.
We follow them out of the green room and up to the stage door. The doors creak open slowly and the crowd goes berserk.