The Teen Drama That Started It All

by Zoë Pollock 

 Emily Landau remembers the trailblazing show, Degrassi Junior High:

Degrassi's camp value has often overshadowed its cultural significance. Twenty-five years after it debuted, its DNA lives on in every subsequent teen drama; in fact, it inspired Aaron Spelling’s Beverly Hills, 90210. However, Degrassi ‘s gritty vérité approach (working-class characters, untrained actors) had more in common with the social realist films of Ken Loach and Mike Leigh than with the brassy designing women and idyllic nuclear families of ’80s television. Degrassi treated such issues as teen pregnancy, abortion, and suicide with gravitas. It was the only place on television where kids could see themselves depicted honestly. There has never been anything else like it.