Degrassi's Co-Creator Taught Teens That Growing Up Could Be Weird

Illustration for article titled Degrassis Co-Creator Taught Teens That Growing Up Could Be Weird
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Christopher ‘Kit’ Hood, who was responsible for creating the greatest Canadian export of any generation, has passed away at the age of 76 according to The Hollywood Reporter. Hood passed “suddenly” at his home in Nova Scotia, but a cause of death has not been given. Hood began the Degrassi franchise with co-creator Linda Schuyler in 1979. In a statement, Schuyler said about her creative partner, “Kit’s intimate and respectful style of directing, small of scale and richly layered, was integral to the success of the series through Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High. To this day, his style is deeply embedded in Degrassi’s DNA.”

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Degrassi holds a special place in the hearts of all former teens of the ‘80s, ‘90s, and ‘00s, who all got the chance to grow alongside different cast-mates every season. The first episode I remember watching is the one where Manny wore a thong to school and everyone lost their minds. I went to school that Monday and asked my friends what kind of underwear they usually wore. That sounds very creepy. But, because of this show, I was able to ask my friends about things I couldn’t discuss with my parents, namely tampons and underpants. In one episode, suffering a horrific first period experience which was eerily similar to my first time, Emma from Next Generation starts a petition to get tampon dispensers installed in the school bathrooms. This episode was the springboard for my conversation with my friend Alex about tampons. She gave me my first (and second) one and hovered outside the bathroom stall while I tried to figure out where the hell that thing was supposed to go.

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The show worked so well, for so many years, because it didn’t take the issues of the teen years too seriously: It gave young people a language with which to express what was happening to them. The issues weren’t always life or death, like Liberty getting pregnant or Rick bringing a gun to school. Sometimes it was about choosing a bra or navigating a relationship with one’s parents. The kids on the show didn’t feel like caricatures, they felt real.

While it’s hard to choose a favorite episode from a franchise that’s been on since before I was born, t when I think of the years spent on my couch questioning why these kids had such strange accents (it took a long time for me to learn the show was based in Canada) there is one character that jumps out.  James Tiberius Yorke, aka J.T. was a moppy haired horn dog who just wanted to get girls’ attention. He was a goofball and a screw up who knocked up his high school girlfriend and still believed he could fix it all. He also had a heart of gold. Christopher Hood, much like J.T, is gone all too soon. Hood leaves behind a legacy of programming that helped teens “know [they] can make it through,” as well as his two daughters Georgia and Fanella, and his wife Agnes.

Read more about Hood on The Hollywood Reporter.

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DISCUSSION

zborny
Dorothy Zbornak

I’m in my early 40s and grew up with Degrassi Jr. High & Degrassi High. We’d watch it on our PBS station in NJ. Sometimes my mom would even watch it with us. So much of what transpired on that show happened around us in real life: Spike & her baby; Erica & her abortion; Shane’s traumatic brain in jury; Shane drunk driving & killing someone...Those are just some of the ones I can think of off of the top of my head.

Even as the franchise grew to Degrassi: The Next Generation, it still held so true to it’s foundation of telling these stories in a way everyone can relate to.

My only issue with the series at all was Emma & Spinner getting married. It was such a hasty way to tie up that “generation” of Degrassi kids, and it was so half-assed. Emma belonged with Sean, end of story.