Class is back in session at your favorite school for edgy teens! Wait no, I'm not talking about "Euphoria" High — think back to the golden era of teen angst when TV seasons were 40 episodes long and high schoolers doing drugs was considered controversial. That's right, "Degrassi" is back and it's heading to HBO Max, the official home of all things chaotic-teen related. This new saga marks the sixth series in the franchise, following "The Kids of Degrassi Street" (1979-1986), "Degrassi Junior High" (1987-1989), "Degrassi High" (1989-1991), "Degrassi: The Next Generation" (2001-2015) and the Netflix continuation, "Degrassi: Next Class" (2016-2017).
The reboot, simply titled "Degrassi," is helmed by showrunners Lara Azzopardi ("Backstage," "The Bold Type," "Mary Kills People") and Julia Cohen ("Riverdale," "A Million Little Things," "The Royals"). The series will arrive exclusively on HBO Max in 2023. And since this charge forward wouldn't be complete without acknowledging the series' massive legacy, HBO Max has also picked up the U.S. rights for the entire 14-season library of the franchise's longest-running installment, "Degrassi: The Next Generation." Expect to find the backlog available later this spring. Maybe the massive success of "Euphoria" got the inspiration flowing because HBO Max has been non-stop when it comes to the gritty YA field: "Degrassi" will be in welcome company alongside "Genera+ion," "Betty," "Gossip Girl," and yes, "Euphoria."
Degrassi: The Next NEXT Generation
For a whopping four decades, "Degrassi" has been like a teenage rite of passage. I for one recall my mother's strict instructions never to interact with the series lest the drug-using teens corrupt my soul. I immediately discovered everything I could about the show and watched it religiously, as did teens everywhere. "Degrassi" had a way of addressing the controversial topics you wouldn't find on your everyday teen sitcom and for the most part, it did so without the judgmental "after-school special" vibe. There was no issue too controversial for "Degrassi" to thoroughly explore through the lens of its young characters, whether it be teen pregnancy, gender identity, child abuse, or any other sordid topic you can brainstorm. Much like its predecessors, this new "Degrassi" will do the same, as a character-driven series about all aspects of the high school experience.
Set in Toronto, the new series will center around both students and staff of Degrassi High. According to Warner Media, the series will "follow a group of teenagers and school faculty living in the shadow of events that both bind them together and tear them apart. The show travels deep into the hearts and homes of diverse, complicated characters, as they struggle to find their new normal, reaching for hope, redemption, and love."
Despite some similarities, this newest iteration is definitely breaking from the "Degrassi" mold. This version comes in the form of a serialized hour-long drama rather than a weekly half-hour format. In the past, seasons featured serialized story arcs — three or so episodes following the same character as they work through an issue before moving to the next phase of their arc. The new approach sounds more in line with the recent "Gossip Girl" reboot. Of this development, showrunners Azzopardi and Cohen said:
"What excites us maybe the most about reviving this beloved franchise is turning it into a truly serialized one-hour drama. We're honored to be given the opportunity to lead this evolution and bring this iconic series back into people's homes."
"Degrassi" will be produced by WildBrain Studios and its showrunners Azzopardi and Cohen also serve as executive producers. Filming is expected to begin in Toronto during summer 2022.
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