The one thing everyone knows about Degrassi is it goes there. In this instance, the “it” in question is a new iteration of the long-running teen series and the “there” is HBO Max. On Thursday, the streamer announced they had ordered a new Degrassi series from The Bold Type’s Lara Azzopardi and Riverdale’s Julia Cohen. The 10-episode show is expected to premiere in 2023.
HBO Max’s Degrassi is the sixth series within the Canadian franchise, which launched with The Kids of Degrassi Street in 1979. Degrassi Junior High (1987), Degrassi High (1989), Degrassi: The Next Generation (2001), and Degrassi: Next Class (2016) followed, but the world has sadly been Degrassi-less since Next Class wrapped in 2017.
The franchise is known for being soapy “edutainment” that explores a vast range of teenage experiences, from wet dreams to doxing to strutting around school in a visible thong as part of a personal rebrand. But there are already signs that HBO Max’s Degrassi is going to be a bit different.
In a statement from Azzopardi and Cohen, the pair share their plan to turn Degrassi “into a truly serialized one-hour drama.” Previous iterations of Degrassi were serialized but balanced out by Very Special Episode stories, some of which did get very serious (JT is murdered at a party) but many of which were delightfully silly (Spinner gets a boner in class). It sounds like this new Degrassi may lean more into the franchise’s dramatic elements and move away from the previous series’ “the more you know” vibes. This would certainly match the tone of the first promotional image for the series, which is a long way from the poppy colors and playful typography of previous promos.
The log line for the new series gives a hint as to what a more serialized, dramatized Degrassi will look like: “Set in Toronto, the new series explores a group of teenagers and school faculty living in the shadow of events that both bind them together and tear them apart. The show travels deep into the hearts and homes of diverse, complicated characters, as they struggle to find their new normal, reaching for hope, redemption and love.”
Whatever the new Degrassi evolution looks like, it does have the blessing of two key members of the franchise’s original creative team, creator Linda Schuyler and executive producer Stephen Stohn. On Thursday afternoon, Stohn tweeted that he and Schuyler were excited “to pass the baton over to Lara Azzopardi and Julia Cohen,” with whom they previously worked when the pair were writers on Degrassi: The Next Generation.
And for those who simply long for original Degrassi flavor, all 14 seasons of Degrassi: The Next Generation — also known as the series with Drake and Nina Dobrev — will be heading to HBO Max this spring. That means you’ll no longer have to rely on YouTube whenever you want to revisit your old crush, Craig Manning (Jake Epstein), or cringe every time Emma (Miriam McDonald) does basically anything.
The new Degrassi will premiere on HBO Max in 2023. Degrassi: The Next Generation will be available to stream on the service this spring.