Degrassi Junior High [TV Series] (1987)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Teen Show [TV]  |   Run Time - 30 min.  |   Countries - Canada  |  
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Adapted from the 1979 Canadian TV series The Kids From DeGrassi Street, this popular half-hour program for teens and preteens debuted on Canada's CBC on January 18, 1987, and was picked up stateside by PBS later the same year. Taped in Toronto, the series focused on the lives of the multiethnic students as DeGrassi Junior High, deftly shifting from comedy to tense drama and back again. Though the series focused on such potent real-life issues as drug addiction, teen pregnancy, smoking, parental abuse, drunk driving, abortion, and suicide, it never came off as preachy or pedantic, principally because the young actors -- most of them recruited from the Playing With Time repertory company -- essayed their roles with utter conviction and sincerity. Even more laudatory was the fact that the actors were not chosen for their looks or charisma but instead were as average and normal-looking as the series' legions of fans. During the series' five seasons on CBC, over 50 principal characters floated in and out of the proceedings. Among the most popular recurring characters were Joey (Pat Mastroianni), Snake (Stefan Brogen), Spike (Amanda Stepto), Wheels (Neil Hope), Caitlin (Stacie Mistysyn), twin sisters Erica and Heather (played by real-life twins Maureen Deiseach and Erica Deiseach), BLT (Dayo Ade), Yick (Siluck Saysanasy), Arthur (Duncan Waugh), Lucy (Anais Granofksy), L.D. (Amanda Cook), Simon (Michael Carry), Michelle (Maureen McKay), Alexa (Irene Courakos), and Melanie (Sara Ballingall). Three years into the series, the regulars graduated from junior high and moved on to high school, whereupon the series was retitled DeGrassi High, remaining as such until its cancellation two years later. Introduced during these final seasons were several new characters, notably Scott (David Armin-Parcells) and Claude (Byrd Dickens). After the series ran its course, many of the principals appeared in the movie-length special School's Out. And in 2001, Canada's CTV unveiled a spin-off series, DeGrassi: The Next Generation, with a fresh cast of students but with several favorites from the earlier series, now adults, cast as various parents and teachers.

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Keywords

adolescence, middle-school, growing-pains, preteens, rites-of-passage, teenagers