It used to be that I would get home from school, get myself a snack and switch on the TV. In elementary school, especially after my sister started high school and we no longer got home at the same time, the TV was mine and I could choose what I wanted. And what I usually wanted was Degrassi reruns.
Last weekend was Ottawa Comic Con, my annual Mothers’ Day present to myself, and the cast of Degrassi was there. Specifically Joey Jeremiah, Caitlyn, Snake and Tessa, who do all have real names but that doesn’t really matter, because I grew up with Joey, Caitlyn, Snake and Tessa, etc.
(Though Snake always seemed like a really nice guy, and Spike was awesome, Lucy was always my favourite).
Degrassi covered all the topics a show for young people should in those days – pregnancy, abortion, teen suicide, HIV/AIDS, drug use, sexual assault, even small things that every teenager thinks that they’re dealing with all alone.
One of the things that has always struck me, thinking back on Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High is that the actors looked like real kids, and the stories were stories no one else seemed to want to tell. The actors on the panel this weekend talked about the fact that grown ups would sometimes question the stories they were telling, but always let them tell those stories.
I cannot say how important that was to those of us growing up with the kids from Degrassi.
And yes, my generation’s Degrassi continues to be the best.