Genre teen drama
Opening theme "Whatever It Takes"
Final episode date 2 August 2015
Starring Main Cast
First episode date 14 October 2001
Theme song Whatever It Takes
|Also known as 'Degrassi: The Next Generation (seasons 1–9)Degrassi (seasons 10–14)|
Created by Yan MooreLinda Schuyler
Theme music composer Jody ColeroJim McGrathStephen Stohn
Cast Drake, Nina Dobrev, Miriam McDonald, Lauren Collins, Cassie Steele
Degrassi: The Next Generation (later renamed Degrassi for seasons ten through fourteen) is a Canadian teen drama television series set in the Degrassi universe, which was created by Linda Schuyler and Kit Hood in 1979. It is the fourth series in the Degrassi franchise, following The Kids of Degrassi Street, Degrassi Junior High, and Degrassi High. Like its predecessors, the series follows an ensemble cast of students at Degrassi Community School who face various challenges often seen as taboo such as graffiti, sex, teen pregnancy, bullying, date rape, drug abuse, self image, homosexuality, self-injury, suicide, abortion, domestic violence, death, racism and many other issues.
- Degrassi The Next Generation Top 10 Musical Moments
- Executive producers script writers and directors
- Episode format
- Opening sequence
- Filming locations
- Guest roles
- First run broadcast
- Post broadcast distribution
- DVD and other new media releases
- Television ratings
- Critical reception
The series was initially created by Linda Schuyler and Yan Moore, and is produced by Epitome Pictures (a subsidiary of DHX Media) in association with Bell Media. The current executive producers are Schuyler, her husband Stephen Stohn and Brendon Yorke. The series is filmed at Epitome's studios in Toronto, Ontario, rather than on the real De Grassi Street from which the franchise takes its name. Degrassi: The Next Generation has been a critical success and has often received favourable reviews from Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, and AfterElton.com. In its initial years, it was frequently the most watched domestic drama series in Canada, and one of the highest-rated shows on TeenNick in the United States. In 2004, one episode received just under a million viewers in Canada, and over half a million viewers in the US. The series has won numerous awards, from the Geminis, Writers Guild of Canada and Directors Guild of Canada, and internationally from the Teen Choice Awards, Young Artist Awards, and Prix Jeunesse.
The series premiered on CTV on October 14, 2001. During the ninth season in 2010, the series moved to MuchMusic. The tenth season marked a change in production style, which saw the series become a telenovela, a daily soap opera-style format, during the summer months, while the rest of the season aired during the standard fall-spring schedule on a weekly basis. The thirteenth season reverted to a weekly schedule and, part way through, moved to MTV Canada. The series has been syndicated on cable television, and episodes are available on DVD and in new media download formats from Puretracks, the iTunes Store, and the Xbox Live Marketplace. Internationally, Degrassi: The Next Generation has been highly successful in the US, where it was broadcast on TeenNick, as well as being broadcast in 140 other countries.
The Next Generation aired its final episode on August 2, 2015, after MTV Canada and TeenNick announced the show's cancellation. However, in January 2016, the show, re-titled Degrassi: Next Class, was moved to Family Channel in Canada and stream on Netflix in the United States as well as all other countries where the service is available (excluding Australia, France, and Canada until later 2016).
Degrassi: The Next Generation - Top 10 Musical Moments
The Degrassi universe was created in 1979 by Playing With Time, a production company owned by former school teacher Linda Schuyler and her partner Kit Hood. The franchise began with The Kids of Degrassi Street, which was spawned out of three half-hour short films. Degrassi Junior High followed in 1987, Degrassi High premiered in 1989, and the television movie School's Out aired in 1992.
Schuyler and original Degrassi series head writer Yan Moore began developing a new television drama in 1999. As the months progressed, they began to think about what had happened to the characters of Degrassi High to develop a school-reunion theme. However, they decided that a series would not work effectively if based around adults instead of children. Moore realized that the character Emma Nelson, born at the end of Degrassi Junior High's second season, would soon be entering junior high school, and development for the series took a new direction by focusing on Emma and her school experiences.
Schuyler's husband Stephen Stohn suggested Degrassi: The Next Generation as the name for the new sequel series, borrowing the concept from Star Trek: The Next Generation, of which he was a fan. The project was pitched to CTV in May 2000, with the originally planned reunion episode serving as the pilot to the new series.
Executive producers, script-writers and directors
Produced by Epitome Pictures Inc, in association with CTVglobemedia, renamed Bell Media in 2011, Degrassi receives funding from Canadian Television Fund and BCE the Shaw Rocket Fund, Mountain Cable Program and the Royal Bank of Canada, the Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund, and the Cogeco Program Development Fund.
Linda Schuyler and Stephen Stohn have served as executive producers since the series began. Other Epitome Pictures employees and series crew members have also been credited with the title, including Sara Snow, Brendon Yorke, James Hurst, Aaron Martin., and Sarah Glinski.
Sarah Glinski and Matt Huether are the current story editors, a position previously filled by Shelley Scarrow, James Hurst, Aaron Martin, and Sean Reycraft. Frequent directors include Phil Earnshaw, Stefan Scaini and Bruce McDonald. When production of season three began, a user on the official Degrassi: The Next Generation website with the alias "ExecProducer" began a forum thread titled "Shooting Season 3", revealing production details, guest actors, scheduling information and DVD release details. He referred to himself as "Stephen Stohn" in one post, although it was not until the release of Degrassi: Generations - The Official 411 in 2005, that Stohn confirmed he was the poster and it was not an imposter.
Each episode of Degrassi is written following the same formula with two or three storylines (Plot A, Plot B and Plot C). The main storyline, A, opens and closes the episode and is usually driven by a single character. Plot B is usually more comedic in tone and sometimes slightly intertwined with the other stories, often moving story arcs forward. Plot C was usually used sporadically in a season-long arc, but is now used in every episode as comedic relief. The problems and issues presented in the episode are not always resolved by the end of the episode, and are carried over to the next, or create a mini-arc over several episodes. The majority of episodes are named after songs from the 1980s, and since the tenth season, episodes are named after songs from the 1990s to the present, representing the entering of a new decade and a completely different cast from the earlier seasons. For the first nine seasons, Degrassi: The Next Generation had been produced as a weekly half-hour teen comedy-drama series, with each season consisting of between fifteen and twenty-four episodes.
Due to falling viewing figures between seasons six and nine, the series developed a daily soap opera format for the summer run of the tenth season, and increased the number of episodes to forty-four. The tenth season also dropped the tagline "The Next Generation", with only one original cast member remaining, and due to the young audience unfamiliar with the past generation, referring to the series as "Degrassi". Season 13 reverted to airing episodes weekly, but still produced more episodes than prior to the soap opera format, airing a block in the summer of 2013 and also the summer of 2014.
The Degrassi opening sequence follows a two- to three-minute cold open. During the first five seasons these credits showed the characters on the school premises and followed a mini storyline. Seasons six and seven featured titles with the actors breaking the fourth wall and facing the camera, over a montage of character videos from past seasons, saturated with blue colour and gold outlines. The montages behind the characters depicting a major event in that character's storyline. For the eighth season, the show abandoned the style of titles used for the previous two seasons and returned to the original form of showing the characters at school while participating in school-related activities. Season Thirteen dropped the opening credits, replacing it with an eleven-second montage. This continued into Season Fourteen. Instead of listing every ensemble actor, after the montage, season thirteen and fourteen episodes credit only the regular actors appearing in that episode.
The theme music, "Whatever It Takes", was composed by Jim McGrath, with lyrics written by Jody Colero and Stephen Stohn. The song include lines such as, "Whatever it takes, I know I can make it through/Be the best, the best I can be", to convey what Colero calls, "a sense of joy and optimism." Lisa Dalbello performed the lyrics with a children's choir over an 1980s pop music style tune during the first three seasons. Dave Ogilvie and Anthony Valcic of Canadian industrial-pop group Jakalope reworked and performed the song with a heavier sound, reflecting the growing maturity of the characters in season four. For seasons six and seven, the theme—still performed by Jakalope—was remixed and stripped of vocals. A fourth version of the theme song, with lyrics sung by Damhnait Doyle, was introduced for the eighth season, and a fifth version of the theme, performed by the in-show band "Stüdz" is used for the ninth and tenth seasons. For seasons eleven and twelve, a sixth version of the theme song is used, performed by Alexz Johnson. Seasons thirteen and fourteen featured a truncated version of the Alexz Johnson theme.
Jim McGrath creates the musical score for each episode using an instrumental version of the theme music. He also works with actors such as Jake Epstein, Melissa McIntyre and Jamie Johnston, when writing music for their characters Craig Manning, Ashley Kerwin, and Peter Stone to perform in the bands Downtown Sasquatch, Paige Michalchuk and the Sexkittens (PMS), Hell Hath No Fury, and Stüdz. In addition to being scored, Degrassi features a mix of original emo, alternative rock and pop music. Popular songs are used sparingly in the series, mainly because of budget constraints. Usually, music supervisor Jody Colero selects songs from little-known, unsigned Canadian artists. When these songs are included, they originate from a diegetic source. Examples of this can be seen in the first-season episode "Jagged Little Pill", when well-known songs are played during Ashley's house party, at the wedding reception in the fifth-season episode "Weddings, Parties, Anything", and during the party scene in the seventh-season episode "Everything She Wants".
The Degrassi universe is set on De Grassi Street in Toronto, Ontario. The four previous series were filmed on and near the street. However, Degrassi is filmed at Epitome Pictures' four soundstages and backlot located at the company's 100,000-square-foot (9,300 m2) production studios in Toronto. The facade of Degrassi Community School is the exterior of Studio C, and uses the same colours and glass pattern as Centennial College, which was used to depict the school during Degrassi High. The area in front of this facade features a "hoarding area" where students gather, a street, and a bus stop across the road. The studio's backlot is used for exterior shots of the characters' houses, which is one unit dressed differently for each house, and The Dot Grill. The building for The Dot is the only one on the backlot large enough to allow filming inside; scenes taking places inside the school and house interiors are filmed on one of four sound stages.
Studio A contains sets for the school's hallways, washrooms, cafeteria and classrooms. The hallways are stenciled with phrases such as "the perfect human being is all human", which were found at the Etobicoke School for the Arts, one of the many schools that set designers used during their original research. The washroom set has graffiti on the walls to look authentic, and is used for the girls' and boys' room; urinals are installed and removed as needed. The set used for the cafeteria is "purposefully bland to take the edge off the rest of the school looking so beautiful." It is also used as the studio's cafeteria where the cast and crew eat.
In addition to being used as the exterior of the school, Studio C holds sets for the school's entrance foyer, the gymnasium, the media lab and a hallway with lockers. As the series progressed and the budget increased, a stairway and balcony was installed in the foyer in an attempt to get characters off the floor and not all appear in the same geometric plane. For the first few seasons, the gym floor was made of real wooden floorboards; due to warping, it was replaced by concrete painted to look like wood.
Studio B contains the sets for the characters' houses and The Core newspaper office which was introduced in season six. It also held sets for Instant Star, another Epitome Pictures production. The fourth studio, Studio D, houses all the production offices, dressing rooms, and make-up and hair departments. The pool hall and university campus club sets were built in Studio D for the seventh season.
York University's Keele Campus in Toronto served as the location for various sites at Smithdale University.
For the new generation of students, producers auditioned over six hundred school-aged children in an attempt to provide characters to which the teenaged target-audience could relate. The decision to cast age-similar actors was purposeful to contrast the series from other shows of the same period such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dawson's Creek, which had cast actors in their twenties as teenagers.
Eleven children were given star billing in the first season. Sarah Barrable-Tishauer portrayed the lonely high-achiever Liberty Van Zandt. Daniel Clark played bad-boy Sean Cameron. Lauren Collins was cast as Paige Michalchuk, the school's head cheerleader and queen bee. Ryan Cooley portrayed class clown James Tiberius "J.T." Yorke, with Jake Goldsbie cast as J.T.'s best friend, Toby Isaacs, a computer geek. Aubrey "Drake" Graham portrayed basketball star Jimmy Brooks, who is from a wealthy family. Shane Kippel played school bully Gavin "Spinner" Mason. Miriam McDonald was cast as Emma Nelson, an environmental rights activist, with Cassie Steele cast in the role of Emma's best friend, Manuela "Manny" Santos. Melissa McIntyre portrayed Ashley Kerwin, the perfect girl who attracts the popular boys, and who the other girls are jealous of. Christina Schmidt portrayed the overweight and insecure Terri McGreggor.
Providing ties to the previous series in the Degrassi universe, Stefan Brogren was approached to play his old character Archie "Snake" Simpson, now working at the school as the media immersion teacher. Dan Woods reprised his role as English teacher Mr. Raditch, now promoted to school principal, and Pat Mastroianni returned to his role as Joey Jeremiah. Amanda Stepto also returned to the franchise to play her character Christine "Spike" Nelson in a recurring role.
In the pilot episode, former Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High actors Danah Jean Brown (Trish Skye), Darrin Brown (Dwayne Myers), Michael Carry (Simon Dexter), Irene Courakos (Alexa Pappadopoulos), Chrissa Erodotou (Diana Economopoulos), Anais Granofsky (Lucy Fernandez), Rebecca Haines (Kathleen Mead), Sarah Holmes (Alison Hunter), Neil Hope (Derek "Wheels" Wheeler), Kyra Levy (Maya Goldberg), Cathy Keenan (Liz O'Rourke), Stacie Mistysyn (Caitlin Ryan), and Siluck Saysanasy (Yick Yu) reprised their roles for the class reunion storyline.
In season two, Mastroianni returned to the Degrassi franchise in a starring role as Joey Jeremiah, a car salesman and single father of two children. Joey's stepson, musician Craig Manning, played by Jake Epstein, is a new student at Degrassi Community School. Three other new characters were introduced in season two in recurring roles. Stacey Farber played Ellie Nash, a goth whose home life is in turmoil, and Adamo Ruggiero portrayed Marco Del Rossi, who is struggling to accept the reality that he is homosexual. Melissa Di Marco was cast as science and gym teacher Daphne Hatzilakos. Mistysyn also returned to her former Degrassi role as Joey's ex-high school sweetheart, Caitlyn Ryan, who in the years following graduation has become a world-renowned journalist.
In season three, Farber, Ruggiero and Mistysyn were given regular roles, as were Andrea Lewis (Hazel Aden) and Stepto, who had held recurring roles since the first season. Mike Lobel (Jay Hogart), Deanna Casaluce (Alex Nuñez), Ephraim Ellis (Rick Murray) and John Bregar (Dylan Michalchuk) were introduced in recurring roles as new students. Towards the end of the season, Schmidt's character, Terri McGreggor, was written out of the show when her possessive boyfriend Rick pushed her to the ground and knocked her head against a rock, causing her to fall into a coma.
Over the course of the ten seasons of Degrassi: The Next Generation, there have been several departures from the series. Season six depicted the first death of one of the show's main characters when J.T. Yorke was stabbed and killed. Clark's character Sean Cameron has been written out of the show twice. He left the series during the fourth season in the wake of the death of Rick Murray, and returned for the sixth season, but departed the series again at the end of the season. At the end of season five several main characters graduated from Degrassi Community School, and either left the series or went on to university. Six new characters were introduced in season seven in a storyline where nearby rival high school Lakehurst merged with Degrassi following a fire. Season eight saw many changes when many of the existing cast members, including Collins, Farber, Graham, Stepto, Ruggiero, and DiMarco either moved to recurring status or left the series entirely. The exodus of several major cast members was reportedly an executive decision that left the actors and producers on bad terms, with Graham stating in an interview with Vibe that "[the producers] did us foul." Thirteen actors were added to the main cast to replace them. By season nine, Brogren, McDonald, Steele and Kippel were the only actors from season one who remained in the series as storylines began to focus on a new generation of children attending the school. This was done to avoid moving the show to a primarily college setting, as the first generation cast aged or "graduated" out of Degrassi Community School into college.
As of season 10, none of the characters from the earlier seasons remain, with the exception of Brogren, whose character has been promoted to the principal of Degrassi Community School; the series now centres on the new generation of Degrassi students.
Besides Brogren, Mistysyn, Stepto, and Mastroianni having starring roles, other actors from Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High have returned to guest star in their old roles throughout Degrassi: The Next Generation's run. As well as the pilot episode featuring the return of many Degrassi alumni, Granofsky made a second guest appearance during the second season in the episode "White Wedding" when her character attends the wedding of Spike and Snake. In a fifth-season episode, Keenan and Hope guest star when their characters return to console Spike and Snake after their marriage breaks down.
Movie director Kevin Smith has been a fan of the Degrassi series from the early 1990s, when he worked at a convenience store in Leonardo, New Jersey. Actor Jason Mewes was his co-worker at the store and also became a fan. Every Sunday morning at work, Smith and Mewes watched episodes of Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High on Public Broadcasting Service. Smith enjoyed the earlier series and has acknowledged an infatuation with Stacie Mistysyn. He has also paid homage to Degrassi by referring to it in several of his films. He named a Clerks character Caitlin Bree after Mistysin's Degrassi character, Caitlin Ryan, wrote Shannen Doherty's character Rene wearing a Degrassi jacket throughout his Mallrats film, and had Jason Lee's character in Chasing Amy specifically mention Degrassi Junior High as a TV show he wants to watch, rather than going out. Smith and Mewes guest starred as themselves in the final three episodes of the fourth season. The plot for these episodes involves the pair working on Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, Eh!, a fictional feature film in the View Askewniverse, using Degrassi Community School as a filming location.
Singer Alanis Morissette, who had worked with Smith, also guest stars in "Going Down the Road Part One" as herself, acting as the school principal in Smith's film. Smith and Mewes return to Degrassi: The Next Generation as themselves for two episodes in season five. The storyline in the episodes was of the premiere of Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, Eh! Alanis Morissette made a cameo appearance as the school principal when scenes from the film were shown during its premiere screening. Smith and Mewes guest starred a third time for four episodes in season eight when many of the characters travelled to Hollywood, Los Angeles. In the episodes, Mewes is the writer-director and protagonist of Mewesical High, which stars a number of Degrassi Community School students. Smith appears in the episodes to support Mewes as he makes his directorial debut.
Other actors to appear in Degrassi: The Next Generation include Jayne Eastwood as Sean Cameron's mother, Billy Ray Cyrus as Duke, a limousine driver who gets arrested, the result of which leaves Jimmy, Hazel, Paige, and Spinner stranded in the street. Season seven featured appearances from Shirley Douglas as a university professor, Free The Children founder Craig Kielburger, and English pop singer Natasha Bedingfield as themselves. Jonathan Torrens guest starred as Emma's father, Shane, in the two-part season three premiere. The character had been played by Bill Parrott in the original series, but he decided not to return the former role. In season 10, ballroom dancer Jean-Marc Généreux appears as a teacher, in the episodes Adam's transgender secret is revealed. After moving to MuchMusic cameos became more frequent, including Keke Palmer, Ben Mulroney, Chaz Bono, Hedley, and Fefe Dobson.
First run broadcast
While the earlier Degrassi series aired in Canada on CBC, Degrassi is broadcast on Bell Media-owned stations. Until mid-season nine, it aired on the CTV Television Network, but due to a decline in viewing figures since season seven, it moved to sister channel MuchMusic in 2010. In 2013, following a revamp of MuchMusic's schedule, the show moved to the Canadian version of MTV.
In the United States, where the earlier Degrassi series aired on PBS, Degrassi aired on digital cable network TeenNick (previously The N), and is the longest-running program on the channel, having aired since the channel's launch in 2002. Seasons six and seven premiered on The N before they aired on CTV.
In June 2015, both MTV Canada and TeenNick announced that they would not renew the show. On June 9, 2015, Epitome Pictures announced that a sequel, Degrassi: Next Class, would premiere on Family Channel, a pay channel owned by DHX Media, in January 2016. In the United States (and internationally), first-run episodes will move to Netflix. Episodes will become available on Netflix in Canada following the conclusion of the season.
In Australia, ABC1 screened the first three seasons in 2002 in its "ABC Kids" line-up and after that the storylines were considered to adult for the late afternoon timeslot. The entire series was aired on ABC3 in 2010 in a primetime slot, also broadcast on Nickelodeon then later MTV.
In South Africa degrassi is set to air in October 2016 on SABC 1.
In Canada, strip repeats of Degrassi: The Next Generation have aired on CTV Two and MTV2, which are owned by Bell Media. In the United States, independent distributor Program Partners and Sony Pictures Television, announced on September 24, 2006 that they acquired the syndication rights to the first 119 episodes of the show in the United States, and any subsequent new episodes.
In December 2006, Program Partners had reached agreements with the Tribune Company for every station it owned, The CW Plus affiliated stations, and many other stations owned by major media conglomerates. Degrassi: The Next Generation was cleared in 60% of the country including all five of the top five media markets. By March 2007, Program Partners had cleared it in over 70% of the country after stations owned by Hearst-Argyle Television, Capitol Broadcasting Company, and ACME Communications purchased the syndication. The series meets the American FCC's educational and informational guidelines towards children's programming.
DVD and other new media releases
The first twelve seasons of Degrassi: The Next Generation have been released on DVD. The box sets are released in Canada by Alliance Home Entertainment. In the United States, FUNimation Entertainment released the first six seasons and Echo Bridge Entertainment released seasons seven through twelve. Each season boxset includes extra features such as pictures, karaoke sessions, audition tapes, bloopers, deleted scenes and more. In Australia, seasons 1 to 4 were released by Umbrella Entertainment in 2010 and 2011. These DVDs are compatible with the region 4 code, which is in use in Australia, New Zealand, Oceania, Mexico, and Central and South America.
The three-episode story arc from the fourth season in which Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes guest star has also been released as a single disc Region 1 DVD. FUNimation Entertainment released the disc on November 8, 2005, in two versions: the first subtitled as "Uncut, Uncensored and Unrated", and the second, "Rated." Each release has the same DVD extras, including an interview with Kevin Smith, bloopers and a Jay and Silent Bob Photo Album, except the Unrated release also features episode commentaries by Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Stacie Mistysyn, the associate producer Jim Jackman and writer Aaron Martin.
Degrassi: The Next Generation is also available in various new media formats. Episodes are streamed on the websites of MuchMusic and TeenNick to viewers with Canadian or US IP addresses. Registered users of the Canadian and American iTunes Stores can purchase episodes for playback on home computers and certain iPods. In Canada, Puretracks also offers episodes for download. They are issued as a Windows Media 10 file, and the purchaser owns them forever, although the episodes can only be burned onto a disc three times and copied to a device three times. In the US, Zune and the Xbox Live Marketplace sell every episode of the series.
As of July 2016, the first two seasons were uploaded to YouTube on the official Degrassi channel, and are free to view.
With characters from Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High appearing in Degrassi: The Next Generation, viewers of the earlier series who are in their 20s and 30s make up a dedicated fan base of the current incarnation. Approximately 40% of the series' viewers are outside of Degrassi: The Next Generation's 13- to 17-year-old target audience. Degrassi: The Next Generation averaged 365,000 viewers aged 13–20 years old in season one, and became the most watched domestic drama in Canada. By the end of season two, it had become the most popular Canadian show for the three youngest age groups (children aged 2–12, teenagers aged 13–17 and young adults aged 18–34).
In the third season, Degrassi: The Next Generation was again the most-watched all-Canadian drama series, and the most watched Canadian drama among adults 18–49. A season four episode that features a school shooting received 930,000 viewers; at that time it was the programme's highest-ever rating. A second episode in the same season that features a storyline about oral sex also earned just under 1,000,000 viewers. Overall, the season averaged 600,000 viewers, and was again the top Canadian drama for teens aged 13–17, and adults in three age brackets 18–34, 18–49 and 25–54. It averaged 250,000 viewers in the US in 2004 and was the highest rated digital cable series in the US in 2006. While that figure is still far lower than successful shows on the "big four" networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC), the premiere episodes of earlier seasons have achieved higher audience figures with females aged 13–34. 2004 also saw the school-shooting episode receive more than half a million US viewers. The fifth season drew in an average of 767,000 viewers, with episode two of the season being watched by 1,000,000 viewers.
In the most recent seasons, however, the audience figures have dropped considerably. In Canada, season six was watched by fewer viewers than had watched season five; episode fourteen was the highest-viewed episode of the season, with a total of 645,000 viewers. The season finale was watched by 520,000 viewers, and the season overall averaged 522,000 viewers. The average viewing figures fell again during the seventh season. The season premiere achieved the highest figures with 585,000 viewers. This progressively dropped over the coming weeks, from 446,000 total viewers for the third episode, to 407,000 total viewers for the fifth episode, and continued to fall to a low of 314,000 viewers by the tenth episode. Overall, the first twelve episodes of the season averaged 455,000 viewers, 45,000 less than the same number of episodes from the season six.
Viewing figures continued to fall throughout season eight; Bill Brioux, the television columnist for The Canadian Press, was surprised that Degrassi: The Next Generation had even reached its eighth season with such poor ratings, asking "What other show in the history of Canadian or American television has so consistently drawn so few viewers yet gets renewed year after year?" The season premiere was watched by 398,000 viewers, almost 200,000 viewers fewer than what the premiere of season seven achieved. Viewing figures continued to drop when episodes two and six were both watched by an average of 220,000 viewers. At the time they were the lowest figures Degrassi: The Next Generation has ever received; however, they continued to fall and by episode eleven, overnight ratings indicated it had received 139,000 viewers.
The overall number of viewers rose slightly for the thirteenth episode, the first of a two-parter, when it was watched by 157,000 people, but the viewing figures for the key 18–34 demographics was at a low of 81,000. The following week, the episode that concluded the two-parter picked up viewers, reaching an estimated total of 206,000. Brioux commented again about Degrassi: The Next Generation still being on the schedules, wondering when CTV was going to announce its cancellation and noting that The Amazing Race, which follows it in the scheduling, was watched by ten times the number of Degrassi's viewers. That pattern was repeated the following week, when Degrassi: The Next Generation was watched by 222,000 viewers, compared to 1,834,000 viewers for The Amazing Race, 1,579,000 viewers for Desperate Housewives and 1,106,000 viewers for The Mentalist, which were broadcast by CTV later in the evening.
CTV aired two episodes back-to-back in the first half of season nine, and the scheduling had improved ratings. The first two episodes earned a combined figure of 471,000 viewers, and the third and fourth episodes retained them; they were watched by a combined 475,000 viewers. The following week, the total viewing figures for episodes five and six had increased to 608,000, and remained high as the season went into hiatus in November with 572,000 total viewers.
Degrassi: The Next Generation has won over fifty awards, and has been nominated for many others. The Writers Guild of Canada has awarded its Canadian Screenwriting Awards to the writers of two episodes. In 2004, Aaron Martin, James Hurst and Shelley Scarrow won the "Best Youth Script Award" for "Pride". The following year, the Scarrow-penned episode "Secret" vied with "Mercy Street", written by James Hurst and Miklos Perlus for the "Best Youth Script Award". "Mercy Street" won. The series has been nominated for fourteen Directors Guild of Canada Awards. In the "Outstanding Achievement in a Television Series – Children's" group category, the Bruce McDonald helmed "Mother and Child Reunion" (nominated 2002) and "When Doves Cry" (nominated 2003) were winners.
"White Wedding", also directed by McDonald, won the award in 2003 for "Outstanding Achievement in Direction – Television Series". McDonald's "Holiday" (nominated 2004), and Stefan Scaini's "Time Stands Still, part 2" (nominated 2005) won the group categories for "Outstanding Achievement in a Television Series – Family". "Can't Hardly Wait" and "Pass the Dutchie" were also nominated in that category in 2007 and 2008, respectively, but failed to win the awards. Stephen Withrow has picked up two awards in the "Outstanding Achievement in Picture Editing" category, for "Mother and Child Reunion" in 2002 and "When Doves Cry" in 2003. Degrassi: The Next Generation has won seventeen Gemini Awards since 2002, and has been nominated in twenty-six other categories. In 2010, producer Linda Schuyler received the Academy Achievement Award.
Degrassi: The Next Generation has also seen awards success internationally. It was nominated for a "Best Children's Television Programme" Prix Jeunesse in Germany in 2004, and has been nominated at the GLAAD Media Awards four times. In 2004, the show received a nomination in the Outstanding Drama Series category, but Lost to the sports drama Playmakers. It was nominated in the same category again in 2008, but lost to Brothers & Sisters. In 2005, Degrassi: The Next Generation won the Television Critics Association Award for "Outstanding Achievement in Children's Programming." It was only the second time that a non-United States series has won an award in this category (the first time was Degrassi Junior High in 1988).
The Young Artist Awards has been recognising actors in the Degrassi franchise since 1987. Degrassi: The Next Generation was nominated for four awards in its first year. Ryan Cooley and Jake Goldsbie were nominated in the "Best Leading Young Actor Performance in a TV Comedy Series" category, but lost to Frankie Muniz from Malcolm in the Middle. The series won the award for "Best Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama TV Series" category. A year later, Jake Epstein won the Young Artist Award in the category for "Best Leading Young Actor Performance in a TV Comedy Series". In 2005, Christina Schmidt tied with Alia Shawkat of Arrested Development to win the award for "Best Supporting Young Actress Performance in a TV Comedy Series", and Jamie Johnston won the 2008 category for "Best Leading Young Actor Performance in a TV Series". Young Artist Awards were awarded again in 2012, with both Cristine Prosperi and A.J. Saudin winning awards in the Lead Young Actress and Recurring Young Actor categories respectively. However, they both tied with another in their category.
At the Teen Choice Awards, children aged between twelve and nineteen vote for each category's winner. The series has been nominated three times in the "Choice Summer TV Show" category, and has won twice, in 2005 and 2007. The episode "My Body Is a Cage", where Adam's transgender secret is revealed, earned a Peabody Award, and a Creative Arts Emmy Award nomination in 2011.
Degrassi: The Next Generation has received generally positive reviews. Entertainment Weekly has called it "a cult hit", and The New York Times named it "Tha Best Teen TV N da WRLD (The best teen TV in the world)". Of the first season, The Ottawa Citizen's Tony Atherton had mixed feelings of the new incarnation, saying it "has a cleaner, more polished look, has lost its edge [and offers] nothing new to viewers familiar with the groundbreaking preceding series, nor to anyone else who has watched the deluge of teen dramas since ... there is a sense of déjà vu with regards to the plots and characters". He did, however, praise the show for having "the same simple narrative told from a kid's viewpoint, and the same regard for unvarnished reality [as Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High]".
Before its debut in the United States, The Seattle Times' Melanie McFarland wondered whether the series would do well, writing: "soft-pedaling through the issues might work for today's family of viewers, but what's gentle enough for Mom and Dad's peace of mind might not be enough to hook Junior or the original Degrassi's older fans". The issues that the characters experience have often been commented on in the media. It has been noted that the series never attempts to hide from depicting honest accounts of the trials and tribulations that real teenagers may often experience. Sarah Liss from CBC News said that despite often being corny and soap opera-y, Degrassi: The Next Generation tackles issues that other genre series prefer to gloss over, and was part of her essential viewing. She named the series one of "the [ten] most important television shows of the 2000s", and was the only children's series, and the only Canadian television series, to appear on the list, which included Mad Men, Lost, the CSI franchise, and Sex and the City.
In 2008, Jeffrey Bento-Carrier described one storyline that showed a teacher being accused of sexually assaulting one of his students as "shock[ing]", adding that "Degrassi is not for everyone, mainly because it's an honest account what it's like to be a teen in a society which values cliques and confrontation over truth and real growth." Brian Orloff of the St. Petersburg Times echoed the sentiments, and praised the series for "stay[ing] in touch with teens' lives".
In spite of these comments, The N held back one of the more controversial episodes of the first season, which showed a character losing control after taking an ecstasy pill, and refused to broadcast it until it was presented with an edited copy from the producers. The N also refused to broadcast two episodes from the second season that featured a storyline about date-rape until suitable edits could be made, and withheld other episodes from season three that showed a fourteen-year-old character having an abortion after having consensual sexual intercourse with her boyfriend, and feeling no regrets. The decision caused an uproar amongst fans who organized a petition that caught the attention of the New York Times, as well as CBC, the National Post and the London Free Press in Canada. The episodes eventually aired three years later as part of an "every episode ever" marathon, with very little advertisement from the network. Another storyline was featured in the media after ten children from a Québécois school were found to have a number of cuts on their bodies. They said they had copied the show when one character began cutting herself in an episode.
Comparisons between Degrassi: The Next Generation and other genre specific series have also been made throughout the run. Jake Surette, a writer with AfterElton.com, a website which focuses on the portrayal of homosexual and bisexual men in the media, reported on the portrayal of two Degrassi: The Next Generation gay characters. "Degrassi features ongoing stories of real-life teen dilemmas—including intense gay and lesbian storylines—and does it without the righteous, 'On a Very Special Blossom' endings that many teen dramas and sitcoms thrive on." Kevin Thompson of The Palm Beach Post said the series "is told from a teenager's point of view since the writers have no interest in appealing to a broad-based demographic like the writers on, say, Fox's The O.C. ... it connects with teens on their level". PopMatters's Jodie Janella Horn also compared it with The O.C., saying that while scenes from Degrassi could be "actual scenes from my actual teenage life ... The O.C. will never remind me of anything in my life", adding that it is the most unnervingly accurate series ever of the high school genre.
The San Jose Mercury News has said "If they [Everwood, The O.C., and One Tree Hill] want to be taken seriously, the shows could take a cue from Canadian drama Degrassi: The Next Generation, which ... addresses the same gritty teen issues without being far-fetched", the New York Times has also made favourable reviews of the series in comparison to Everwood, The O.C., and One Tree Hill, as well as Beverly Hills, 90210, Gilmore Girls, Dawson's Creek, and adult series such as Sex and the City, Maude, and Six Feet Under. AOL TV ranked it as the sixth TV's Biggest Guilty Pleasure.