One of the most iconic franchises in the history of Canadian television, Degrassi is a long-running series of dramas that follow the lives of a group of teenagers who lived on or near DeGrassi Street in Toronto, Ontario. The early Degrassi series were produced by the small production company owned by Kit Hood and Linda Schuyler, Playing With Time Inc.
The franchise began with a short film called Ida Makes A Movie, which was adapted from a children's book of the same name (which was about talking cats!). From there, the small production company created The Kids of Degrassi Street in 1979, which included a couple of after school specials. Starting with Degrassi Junior High it went Darker and Edgier, taking on many Soap Opera tropes and adding Loads and Loads of Characters with a ton of Very Special Episode topics within every episode, the result being the Trope Maker for the Teen Drama genre as well as the franchise cementing itself as a Canadian institution.
The title is a Line-of-Sight Name. After the first few shorts were sold to the US, PBS wanted an umbrella title for all of them. So they named it after the main filming location. In 1979 Toronto used all-caps, stamped street signs leaving it ambiguous whether the name was one word or two; newer mixed-case screenprinted ones appeared well after the producers had committed to "Degrassi" as one word.
The Degrassi franchise includes:
- The Kids of Degrassi Street (1979-1986)
- Degrassi Junior High (1987-1989)
- Degrassi High (1989-1991)
- Mini-documentary series Degrassi Talks (1992), 6 episodes
- The Made-for-TV Movie School's Out! (1992)
- Degrassi: The Next Generation (2001-2015; known as simply Degrassi from seasons 10-14)
- Degrassi: Next Class (2016-2017; a direct sequel to The Next Generation)