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girlonthepark

Degrassi Classic Versus New Degrassi

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I don't know if I am alone on this board, but does anyone else on here love Degrassi Classic? Being Canadian, there is definitely a cultural awareness you have of both shows (fun fact - I have uncles who did post production sound work on both Degrassi Classic and the early seasons of New Degrassi) and both have their strengths. I appreciate a lot of what New Degrassi has to offer in terms of plotlines with gay and transgender teens because I think those topics are really important to address and I am not sure where else that is happening right now in kids/teen programming (Tara Ariano - please feel free to correct me by pulling the name of an ABC Family show I have never heard of into the mix ;) ).
However, truthfully, I think my heart still lies with the '80s episodes because they are a lot more quaint and real feeling to me. The kids wore their own clothing to shoot episodes (Lucy's pleated stretchpants 4eva!) and some of the cast went through stages where they were gangly and awkward and had bad skin. I feel sometimes when I watch New Degrassi (and I fully admit I am an old person and therefore am looking at everything through the lens of age) that all of the teen actors are unrealistically attractive and that some of the characters have Sexy Teen ProblemsTM that just don't ring as true to me.
Aficionados of New Degrassi, please correct me/debate with me on this - does New Degrassi feel like your high school experience? Please enlighten my 31-year-old self.

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I'm the same age, and although I never miss any of the new Degrassi episodes, the 80s episodes are the ones I grew up one.  I loved that all the actors looked and felt like real kids/teens.  TNG had that feel for the first round of cast members, but now, they use 20 something actors instead of teens and they are all too pretty and "TV awkard" (let's put glasses on them because that surely makes them uglier).

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I'm even older (turned 39 the other day) and I remember watching Degrassi Junior High in my 7th grade Social Studies class. I was hooked from that point on. I don't think I've missed an episode. As for which is better? I love the original because it was my childhood, and I love the new one because I think it "goes there" if you will. I love the model they have of graduating off the kids and bringing in new blood. It works for me.

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I watched seasons 1-9 of Degrassi TNG. I would say in the earlier seaons they casted actors and actress who looked their age. The actors who played Emma, Spinner Liberty and JT and even Drake did not look like model like at first. They looked like ordinary teens who were going though their awkward phase. I think when they casted the guy who played Peter is when they started casting actors for there looks.

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Yeah, but what was weird was that Peter got really not pretty as the years went by. I seriously believe that season 5 boob filming Peter would have totes hooked up with Riley.

One could argue that Jake Epstien was pretty. He was like the cute bad boy in class that you help him with his homework, but he calls you buddy and bangs your best friend. Taking Ellie out of the goth wear made no sense.

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I agree with Peter getting non-pretty. I think it was the hair. The Ellie thing sort of made sense to me since she was a goth her freshman year in high school it made sense that she would eventually grow out of it. I just hated they almost made her a clone of Stacey Farber.

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Yeah. It was one day, Goth, the next....not. I also think Ellie was dumb to turn down Jimmy. They would have been a great couple.

Ashley ended up being beautiful at the end. Remember the y

triangle head hair?

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Emma also ended up being a lot prettier than she was when she started. Poor girl had an awful akward stage in the beginning. A lot of the characters got better looking as they got older. Heck, even Spinner looked decent once he lost his baby fat.

 

I'm glad they phased Ellie out of the goth thing. It's a normal progression. I was sort of "goth" in high school (not really goth, but dressed weird with lots of fishnet and safety pins) and I phased out of it when I went to college. I didn't start dressing in pink polo shirts or anything, but it toned down a lot once I became an actual adult.

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I read recently Miriam McDonald said she was anorexic during the first couple of seasons of Degrasssi. I think she posted it on her instagram account. I wonder if the writers knew since Emma had the anorexic episodes in season 5.

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I'm even older (turned 39 the other day) and I remember watching Degrassi Junior High in my 7th grade Social Studies class. I was hooked from that point on. I don't think I've missed an episode. As for which is better? I love the original because it was my childhood, and I love the new one because I think it "goes there" if you will. I love the model they have of graduating off the kids and bringing in new blood. It works for me.

 

This is me. Even down to the 7th grade class. We had a social studies class that was connected to the other social studies class and we pushed open the according wall between us and watched it together. I remember watching Degrassi Junior and Degrassi High on PBS and it was seriously the best thing to me because those kids looked and dressed like me and I somehow related more to them than I did the kids on regular primetime shows. I haven't watched New Degrassi in a long time probably not since the second season but I recall liking it for the most part.

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Does anyone find it interesting how both the classic and TNG versions both started off with with a sibling/step-sibling pair and by a couple seasons in both cases they both went to the wayside.

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I've seen the old episodes, but I didn't grow up with them so maybe they didn't resonate as much with me because of that. Bad Blood sticks out to me as a memorable episode b/c I was amazed Degrassi would feature a heterosexual getting HIV and not a gay person, especially in the 80s.

 

I loved the original first few seasons (1-4) of the new Degrassi and then it all went downhill from there. Everyone currently on the show is irritating and their plots would NEVER happen in real life which is what made the original Degrassi so great. Everyone can probably point out in their own schools who the Liberty's and the Paige's and even the Spinner's were. These current people are so far removed from what high school is like that we may as well call this show Glee. 

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I think my one problem with the New Degrassi (and it's really my only problem) - is how 'Americanized" the show has gotten. Everyone who graduates is going to Stanford, Yale and no mentions for Canadian colleges and/or universities. All the 'money' issues that people have, there's OSAP etc. but no one ever brings this up. 

 

And I agree - I liked the hiring of normal teenagers fresh out of school over hiring the models. 

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I grew up on Degrassi Junior High and loved every minute of it. And have watched almost all of the New Degrassi and loved it too but they are very different. Interesting about the Jr. High kids wearing their own clothes. It looked it. It looked more like a documentary about life in middle school. Everything felt very real. Remember Zit Remedy? They really weren't all that great. The "Hot" girls weren't supermodels. They did look like the kids I went to school with. Even the popular kids looked slightly awkward. And they didn't seem as well off as this bunch do, with a few exceptions.

 

What I loved about the New Degrassi was how it was introduced. For me, who watched from the beginning, seeing Snake and Spike was great. Hell, I remember when Spike was pregnant with Emma. Oh that hair!!!! Hmmm, maybe we just dressed a lot worse in the 80s. lol But the great thing is, the show, through the years, has changed with society. Kids in school now are more made up and less covered up than in my day. They are more sexually confident than we were too. So I appreciate that the show keeps up with the times and the topics that fit the era.

 

Still, I love me some Old School Degrassi. I mean, this could be taken out of any high school yearbook of the time:

degrassi-jr-high-cast-22052-18kjhnx-300x

 

Oh, now I've gotten all nostalgic again. Off to find the show online.

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I'm just finishing the classic shows, they're available with Amazon Prime.  I think they did a better job with casting and with costumes with both sets when they started, I think a lot of that is them casting middle school aged kids, and then we got to watch them go through puberty and they really made sure that they hired kids that looked like the real variety of kids you'd see in school, some who were short, some tall and ones who looked younger and older than their age and they certainly weren't uniformly thin.  The acting is also very understated and I loved how they portrayed the kids being nervous about asking each other out, even into high school.  I do think there's something just awkward about 80's clothes that you don't see now.

 

It's amazing how groundbreaking those shows were, a lot of these plots would be controversial now but to have them back in the early 80's.  The new degrassi does handle controversial topics but controversy is more commonplace (although not in shows starring eleven year olds, can you imagine one of the kids on a disney show get pregnant.

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I think my one problem with the New Degrassi (and it's really my only problem) - is how 'Americanized" the show has gotten. Everyone who graduates is going to Stanford, Yale and no mentions for Canadian colleges and/or universities. All the 'money' issues that people have, there's OSAP etc. but no one ever brings this up. 

 

And I agree - I liked the hiring of normal teenagers fresh out of school over hiring the models. 

 

Somebody mentioned having been accepted to Wilfred Laurier a while back, but I can't remember,

 

One of the biggest transformations was with Tristan, besides bleaching his hair, he lost a lot of weight.  But why did the actor change his name along the way?

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Somebody mentioned having been accepted to Wilfred Laurier a while back, but I can't remember,

 

One of the biggest transformations was with Tristan, besides bleaching his hair, he lost a lot of weight.  But why did the actor change his name along the way?

 

 

and the weight loss was totally unmentioned, you'd think ther would have been a shout out to his heart attack or something.  I think he changed his name to honour his grandmother.

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The weight loss isn't an issue to me, the actor couldn't help growing up. In fact, I think I read that they had him wear a fat suit for a little while. But @Daisy, yes, I was just thinking the other day, why hasn't Tristan's heart attack been brought up again? Hell, he's on the basketball team, which had a rigorous tryout (I recall them doing burpees). Yes, it was a minor heart attack and he's young, so he probably bounced back quite well, and he seems to be more of a benchwarmer than an active player, but why give him a heart attack at all if it's never going to come up again?

 

Back to the issue of the characters looking like models... I think Frankie tends to look "normal" and Tristan wasn't much of a looker until S13. But I think it would be difficult to revert back to a more realistic look, not after we've gotten so used to near perfection. Plus, a lot of kids do seem to be more "on trend" and put together these days. But I think they should at least leave the dolled up stuff to the affluent characters.

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Hi, I'm late. But I wanted to say that I hated that they made Ellie "not goth". I'm far removed from High School, and I still consider my style of dress and lifestyle to be "goth". To a lot of people, it is a life-long interest, and I wish they would have shown that with Ellie.  Also, once she became "normal", her character became boring.

 

As for favorite Degrassi time periods...I liked them all and continue to watch the show and enjoy it. I do agree that the kids are all far too attractive these days...I had hopes for Tristan, but they prettied him up too. 

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I do think you saw a shift towards more polished looking cast members in TNG, around the time they introduced Holly J, Nina Dobrev's character, Sav, Anya, etc. This is also around the time when characters like Emma and Spinner started to transform and appear more conventionally attractive. Not to say that the original cast was awful-looking even to start (even Ashley with her orange, triangle hair, already had really striking features, and yes, Jake Epstein was a babe), but I certainly agree there was more realism regarding how young they were, what they wore, etc. They definitely weren't so fresh-faced, CW-ready back then.

 

I've fallen off with the show the past few seasons, but I honestly thought they recovered pretty well with the newer generation of kids after a stretch of various boring seasons where they tried to milk whatever they could out of the last remaining original characters they had left. Honestly, the side of me that loved TNG's early ridiculousness is  sad that the format of the show is far less cheesy after school-special/cautionary tale and more general teen soap opera. I mean sure, they still touch on the most "it goes there-ist" issues around like hoarding, doing questionable things with technology,coke addiction, etc. And they still do that thing where these issues readily dissapear after a very special episode, but the theatrics have diminished a bit, and for that, I am sad.

Actually, in all seriousness though, this shift has done the show some favors in that they  haven generally been more subtle with truly tough topics

For example, I thought they handled Cam's suicide very well by making it more about character reactions than some heavy-handed message.

.

 

I've always liked that the show's willingness to deal with LGBT characters, but what has bugged me from Marco up to Riley and then Adam is that like all of their story lines for the most part strictly revolved around their sexuality. Don't get me wrong I think they did a good job touching on various issues that come with accepting sexuality, but I would have liked to see them flesh out these characters a bit more. With the exception of Riley actor (who was dreadful), I feel the actors could have pulled it of. Of course, the exception to this is Fiona who wasn't introduced as a lesbian (though they did a good job planting seeds so it didn't seem out of nowhere ala Paige's  bisexuality) and who also had alcoholism and domestic abuse on her track record  and got lighter story lines pretty frequently.That makes me wonder if the show has evolved a bit in the past couple years in how they focus on and introduce  queer characters? For example, how are they handling Tristan and Imogen these days? 

 

ETA: never watched Old school Degrassi. But given his role in early TNG, it makes me sad that Snake is such a non-entity these days.

Edited by Beezel

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