Thursday, December 14, 2017

Getting schooled by Degrassi

We're now into 4 decades of Degrassi, the teen-oriented show that began its life as a staple on Canada's public broadcaster then moved on to PBS in the US and later to cable and specialty channels around the world and most recently to Netflix. Along the way Degrassi has picked up Emmy and Peabody awards, future famous stars such as Drake, and famous fans such as filmmaker Kevin Smith, he of Jay and Silent Bob, Mallrats, and Clerks fame.

But you don't need to spend the $8000 Kevin Smith mentioned above to dig into the Degrassi vault. Now, thanks to a new YouTube channel called Encore+, you can pair 21st century binge watching habits with the 20th century problems of the kids from Degrassi as full episodes of the show are available for on demand viewing on the channel, along with other Canadian favourites such as Mr. Dressup and DaVinci's Inquest and sundry documentaries

The first iteration of the Degrassi franchise was The Kids of Degrassi Street, which ran until 1986, followed by Degrassi Junior High, from 1987 to 1989, then it became Degrassi High from 1989 to 1991, Degrassi: The Next Generation from 2001 to 2015, and most recently Degrassi: Next Class which made its way to Netflix in 2016.

In parallel to Degrassi’s development across its five franchises has been the show’s migration from public broadcasting to cable channels and now to OTT. Degrassi creator Linda Schuyler spoke recently in Toronto about the show's evolution across time and tech platforms, and my story on the talk can be found here.

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