Degrassi: The Next Generation is a Canadian television series, which follows the lives of a group of high school students.
Spawned from the idea of doing a reunion show of characters from the earlier Degrassi_series, Degrassi: The Next Generation (TNG) is a sequel to the popular 1980s series Degrassi Junior High. Rather than do a show focusing just on the (now adult) characters, the creators decided to stay true to the original series and TNG retains that show's focus on the issues and challenges of real teen life. Several characters from the earlier series appear on the new series as parents or teachers of the new students and have plot lines of their own which intermix with the stories of the younger generation.
Degrassi: The Next Generation details the lives of many different characters as they go through their high school years. Since the first season the characters have grown in many different ways. The show has dealt with many issues familiar to teenagers, such as drug abuse, drinking, rape, child abuse, abortion, homosexuality, cutting, death, and cancer.
Archibald "Snake" Simpson returns from Degrassi Junior High, now a teacher at Degrassi. Other returning characters include Joey Jeremiah (the stepfather of Craig Manning), Caitlyn Ryan, and Christine "Spike" Nelson (the mother of Emma Nelson).
There is no lead character; but from episode to episode one or two characters will usually be the focus of the main plot.
Perhaps the best way to explain the myriad of characters that make up the cast of Degrassi:TNG is to trace the web of friendships and relationships that tie them together. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a good cross section of the cast:
- Gavin "Spinner" Mason, so nicknamed for his bouts of ADHD, has had a few episodes dealing with puberty, including one in the second season where he was visited with his first erection, which he referred to as releasing the "Beast Within" and blamed on eating health food while participating in a science experiment for Emma Nelson.
- Emma Nelson is the daugter of Christine "Spike" Nelson, who was pregnant with Emma in the earlier series. She is smart and idealistic, sometimes to a fault, and champions broad causes such as protecting the environment and boycotting Genetically_modified_food.
- Paige Michalchuk is Spinner's girlfriend. She is the popular girl and had a self-centered attitude until she was date-raped by an older student at a party. The follow-up episodes to this event have taken Paige through therapy, a trying and invasive court battle which she untimately lost, and her relationship with Spinner has grown and solidified as he has matured and stuck by her through the depression and emotional outbursts surrounding and resulting from the event.
- Jimmy Brooks is one of Spinner's best friends. Jimmy's family is quite wealthy, causing occasional rifts between the two as they are from very different economic backgrounds. Jimmy currently dates Hazel Aden (as of Season 3).
- Marco del Rossi is best friends with Spinner and Jimmy. One of the smartest, and most fashionable, students at Degrassi, Marco is dealing with coming out as gay to himself, his friends, and most recently to his mother. Marco is dating Paige's brother, Dylan, a freshman at a nearby university. Marco was also recently elected Student Body President.
- Hazel Aden, friend of Paige and Spinner, and Jimmy's girlfriend is Somalian, but once pretended she was Jamaican to hide from persecution as a Muslim. She revealed herself only after a hate crime was committed against another Muslim student. Hazel was blamed for the crime, and also felt guilty because she had criticized the other student's attire as the "fashion police"
- Kendra Mason, an Asian girl 2 years younger than Spinner, was first introduced as the love interest of Toby Issacs, a computer geek 1 year behind Spinner. She shared Toby's love for anime and they were close to getting together when it was revealed that Spinner was actually her over-protective older brother.
- Toby: "But she's A..."
- Spinner: "Adopted. Idiot."
- Toby Issacs eventually overcame his fear of Spinner and in doing so won his respect (and Kendra's,) but Kendra quickly let him know that he'd have more than Spinner to worry about if he hurt her, or put more eloquently, she'd "rip out his intestines if he ever broke her heart."
- J.T. Yorke is Toby's friend and the resident class clown. His quick wit and tongue make him lots of friends and get him into just as much trouble.
More About the Show
The ever-changing dynamic between friends, significant others, and enemies on Degrassi: The Next Generation likens it to a teenage soap opera. Much as in a real life, the adolescence of the characters is a mix of happiness and tragedy as they find themselves in very real situations where the stakes are higher than anyone ever seems to remember after exiting High School. Although every episode isn't amazing, the show has been compared to My_So-Called_Life for its ability to portray the real drama of life as a teenager without resorting to complete melodrama or pandering to its audience.
In the United States, Degrassi: The Next Generation airs on The-N, which runs as Noggin from 6 PM until 3 AM. Noggin is owned by Nickelodeon. In Australia it is aired by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) as part of its "ABC Kids" lineup. (Before each episode is shown in Australia, a warning is broadcast that the programme may not be suitable for younger children).
American actor and film director Kevin Smith, a fan of both the original and current shows, will be making a 3-episode guest appearance in the 2005 season.
- Sarah Barrable-Tishauer - Liberty Van Zandt
- John Bregar - Dylan Michalchuk (Season 3- )
- Stefan Brogren - Archibald "Snake" Simpson
- Daniel Clark - Sean Hope Cameron
- Lauren Collins - Paige Michalchuk
- Ryan Cooley - James Tiberius "J.T." Yorke
- Melissa DiMarco - Ms. Hatzilakos (Season 2- )
- Jake Epstein - Craig Manning (Season 2- )
- Stacey Farber - Eleanor "Ellie" Nash (Season 2- )
- Jake Goldsbie - Tobias "Toby" Isaacs
- Aubrey Graham - Jimmy Brooks
- Michael Kinney - Mr. Armstrong
- Shane Kippel - Gavin "Spinner" Mason
- Katie Lai - Kendra Mason
- Andrea Lewis - Hazel Aden
- Linlyn Lue - Ms. Kwan
- Pat Mastroianni - Joseph "Joey" Jeremiah (Season 2- )
- Miriam McDonald - Emma Nelson
- Melissa McIntyre - Ashley Kerwin
- Stacie Mistysyn - Caitlin Ryan (Season 2- )
- Daniel Morrison - Chris Sharpe (Season 3- )
- Adamo Ruggiero - Marco del Rossi (Season 2- )
- Christina Schmidt - Terri MacGregor (Season 1-3)
- Cassie Steele - Manuella "Manny" Santos
- Alex Steele - Angela Jeremiah (Season 2- )
- Amanda Stepto - Christine "Spike" Nelson/Christine "Spike" Simpson
- Maria Vacratsis - Sheila the Lunch Lady
- Dan Woods - Principal Raditch
- Mony Yassir - Nadia Jamir
- Ephraim Ellis - Rick Murray (Season 3- )
- Deanna Casaluce - Alex (Season 3- )
- Mike Lobel - Jay (Season 3- )