Much ado about Degrassi: Whyfore so much hype about season debut available early for streaming

By BILL HARRIS, SUN MEDIA [Edmonton Sun]

CTV’s website will make the season debut of Degrassi: The Next Generation available for streaming tomorrow at noon, a full week ahead of the TV premiere.

Now, on the one hand, this is where TV is headed, of course. Internet pre-releases are meant to attract younger viewers and to create buzz.

But looking at it from a strictly personal perspective, this foray crystallizes why yours truly has resisted the Degrassi franchise, in all its forms, for so long.

It always feels like there’s a campaign afoot to try to convince the populace that Degrassi is this major cultural phenomenon, and it just strikes us as a big-ass lie.

We’re told about how beloved Degrassi is in the United States and in more than 100 other countries around the world, but as a general rule of thumb, if you have to talk about how big something is elsewhere, that means it’s not that big where you are.

So it always has been a challenge to evaluate Degrassi – which began as Degrassi Junior High and morphed into Degrassi High before settling upon Degrassi: TNG – in an impartial manner. Degrassi reeks of preachy agendas and corporate mandates, so we have to admit, we are predisposed to hate it.

But let’s set aside our prejudices. What can we say that is good about Degrassi: The Next Generation?

Well, first of all, the camera loves Miriam McDonald, 19, the hot blond who plays Emma. The Degrassi cast list reads like a census, but in practice if not in theory, McDonald is the star of the show.

Emma can be a little irritating, since she virtually is a walking crisis. In the Season 6 premiere, for example, Emma falls for the wrong guy so fast that she makes Britney Spears look like the model of good romantic judgment. But that isn’t McDonald’s fault, of course.

Besides McDonald, there’s plenty more eye candy for the younger set with raging hormones. There’s Daniel Clark (as Sean) and Jamie Johnston (as Peter) for those who prefer boys, and Stacey Farber (as Ellie) and Shenae Grimes (as Darcy) for those who prefer girls.

So Degrassi looks good. There’s no denying that. And we give the show credit for trying to tackle current issues facing teenagers, rather than sticking exclusively to “do you really think he/she likes me?” storylines. Case in point, in the first two episodes of the sixth season, those crazy Degrassi kids get mixed up in illegal street racing.

The dialogue in Degrassi leans achingly toward melodrama. But then, teens can be fairly melodramatic.

Regardless, in the Season 6 premiere, someone actually says something that made us laugh. Upon running into two strangely attired Asian girls, Marco (played by Adamo Ruggiero) asks, “Did I just walk into a Gwen Stefani video?”

If you’ve seen a Gwen Stefani video from the past couple of years, you’ll know why that’s funny.

Overall, upon further review, perhaps Degrassi: The Next Generation is not the worst show we ever have seen. It’s nowhere near the top of the list, mind you, but it’s not right at the bottom, either.

Maybe we’d like Degrassi even more if people quit insisting it’s changing the world.

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