It’s been a tumultuous summer for Drake. In the center of being one side of hip-hop’s best beef that the moment, complete with dueling diss tracks with Pusha T and also rumors that a an enig love child, the Canadian star to reduce a brand-new video for his track “I’m Upset.” and if you occurred to be a pan of a particular wholesome Canadian teenager soap the yesteryear, you’d notice plenty of acquainted faces.

That’s right: Drake returns to his roots in the new vid, reuniting through a bunch of his co-stars ~ above Degrassi: The next Generation, including his character Jimmy’s finest friend crackhead (Shane Kippel), to add the male responsible for placing Jimmy in that wheelchair (Ephraim Ellis). Amongst some more well-known faces are The Vampire Diaries Nina Dobrev (who played Mia) and even Kevin Smith and also Jason Mewes, a.k.a. Jay and also Silent Bob, who had an arc in season four of TNG.

If every this is gibberish to you, 1) you plainly aren’t Canadian, and 2) we’ve got you extended with whatever you must know about the long-running show. Read on because that the Degrassi-splainer friend didn’t understand you needed.

The Degrassi family tree

Archie Simpson (Stefan Brogren) has actually been a personality in virtually all the Degrassi series. TeenNick Degrassi is a franchise of shows created by Linda Schuyler, a former junior high school teacher. The an initial incarnation to be The children of Degrassi Street, which began in 1979 together a series of 4 after-school specials — Ida provides a Movie, Cookie Goes to the Hospital, Irene moves In, and Noel Buys a suit — that aired over 4 years and chronicled the adventures the the titular kids and also their families, who all live top top the same street.

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In December 1982, the layout switched come weekly episodes; in 1986, ~ 26 episodes spread out over four years, Schuyler made decision to rework the collection and change the setup to a junior high school, so the she could tackle the more facility problems the come along with adolescence. This became the universe of all future Degrassi series.

Degrassi junior High premiered January 18, 1987, and featured few of the very same actors together The youngsters of Degrassi Street, though with different character names and also family backgrounds. It ran till March 6, 1989, and also explored plenty of storylines that future Degrassi series would continue to develop on. A notable instance was the teen pregnancy plot in the global Emmy–winning season one episode "It"s Late," in i beg your pardon 14-year-old Christine "Spike" Nelson (Amanda Stepto) finds the end she"s pregnant. She later gives birth come a girl called Emma, who ultimately becomes one of the main personalities in Degrassi: The next Generation.

Junior High finished March 6, 1989, making method for Degrassi High, which ran from November 6, 1989, to January 28, 1991 and followed the characters through their later on years of great school.

Ten year after the Degrassi High finale come Degrassi: The following Generation (or simply Degrassi, as it was well-known in that is last four seasons). That ran longer than any type of other show in the franchise (either before or since), airing for 14 seasons between October 14, 2001, and also October 28, 2014. The series featured some of the children from vault Degrassi series returning as the "adults" — namely, Caitlin Ryan (Stacie Mistysyn), Spike, and also Archie "Snake" Simpson (played by Degrassi producer and director Stephan Brogren).

Next Generation is probably the Degrassi collection that"s best known come American audience (and one of the few Canadian reflects US audiences space at all acquainted with), together it aired in the US on TeenNick. It"s additionally the best known in general; its an initial season to be Canada"s top-rated drama among the 18- to 49-year-old demographic.

In 2016, Netflix premiered Next Class, an additional iteration that the same formula, v Brogren playing primary Simpson and other personalities reprising their Next Generation roles. You deserve to now stream four seasons of that if you’re therefore inclined.

There are likewise the web series Degrassi Minis, which were produced for seasons 5 through 14 that Next Generation and are considered "non-canon"; the 2010 TV movie Degrassi takes Manhattan; and even Jay and Silent Bob carry out Degrassi, a three-episode Next Generation arc the sees Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes"s fictional transform egos filming a movie in ~ Degrassi neighborhood School, a job that came around largely as wish fulfillment for Smith, a self-professed Degrassi superfan.

What is Degrassi about?

among Degrassi’s favorite storylines: teen pregnancy! TeenNick Degrassi has always stayed true to its after-school distinct roots; every season the each collection tackles assorted permutations of troubles like addiction, questions of sexuality and gender identity, cyberbullying, rape, and also depression, together with some lighter plots. (See this good list native Vulture"s Margaret Lyons for much more examples; the names 239 "issues" spanned by The next Generation alone.)

But that"s component of exactly how this show has survived for so long: it addresses the very same topics lot of times, yet switches increase its strategy based top top the characters and also the time period in i beg your pardon the illustration air.

As Pilot Viruet created for the A.V. Club:

Degrassi has actually been on because that so lengthy (and in so many different forms) that it needs to recycle straightforward plots. The works since it provides the present experiment with various outcomes—teens face pregnancy, sex-related assault, mental illness, etc., however each character deals with it differently, just as yes, really people deal with the exact same things in various ways.

Or together Brogren placed it come the Hollywood Reporter: "The medicine have adjusted but the troubles are tho the same."

On the note, few of Degrassi"s plot lines have actually proved too much for American standards & practices boards end the years, especially regarding abortion; a 1989 Degrassi High storyline about a teenager pregnancy and subsequent abortion was edited to leave the character"s decision ambiguous, and in 2002, American network the N (the predecessor the TeenNick) refuse to wait a two-part Next Generation episode in which another character had an abortion.

What"s therefore special about the Degrassi franchise?

In 2012, the Degrassi franchise ended up being the longest-running Canadian collection of all time, steal the title from Beachcombers, a dramedy the ran native October 1972 come December 1990 and boasted together its ultra-Canadian premise "the adventures the a experienced lumber salvager and also his friends in Gibsons, british Columbia, Canada," every IMDB.

There are a few explanations for Degrassi"s remarkable longevity. Because that one, together creator Schuyler defined to EW in 2012, she has constantly been specialized to what she phone call "authenticity" (as protest to reality): exploring the countless facets of the teen suffer in a method that"s substantially interesting however that additionally gets at the underlying truth of the characters" emotions and experiences.

One way Schuyler has completed this authenticity is through insisting ~ above age-appropriate casting, do Degrassi a rarity in a TV see afflicted through Andrea Zuckerman Syndrome, whereby 20- and even 30-somethings space regularly cast as teenagers. While this has actually sometimes meant spreading kids with little acting experience, it"s additionally contributed come the show"s relatability. The following Generation, after ~ all, overlapped ~ above the air because that a pair of periods with Dawson"s Creek — another show ostensibly about teenagers, yet ones who vocabularies and problems weren"t exactly familiar to the average high schooler.

Rarer quiet is Schuyler"s commitment come showcasing characters of varying backgrounds. She called EW: "We’re very huge on solemn event of diversity — racial, sexual, economic — and also creating an environment for young civilization that provides them feel favor they’re not totally alone." This is unusual in the current TV climate, which is just start to take it baby measures away from total whiteness, and downright astonishing because that a show that"s been approximately since the "70s.

Degrassi"s unique features make it difficult to surname an analogous American series; despite the US has actually no shortage of dramatic high school–set shows, it"s tough to think of plenty of that re-publishing Degrassi"s commitment to catching so plenty of truths about the teenage experience. The closest cousin might be something like Freaks and also Geeks, i m sorry shares few of Degrassi"s essential sweetness and refusal come shy far from the more humiliating facets of adolescence — however where Freaks was a vital darling that ran for just one season, Degrassi is a multigenerational Canadian institution, through legions of fans both ironic and also sincere.

Has everyone famous appeared on Degrassi?

While many Degrassi actors are more than likely not popular to us audiences that don"t clock the series, the show has spawned a small variety of recognizable alums, all from The next Generation. Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev appeared from 2006 to 2008 as Mia Jones, a single teen mother; Shenae Grimes-Beech, the 90210 reboot fame, played cheerleader/Mia"s eventual nemesis Darcy Edwards native 2004 to 2008. Cassie Steele, who played Manny Santos, walk on to star in The LA Complex, a short-lived Canadian summer series also helmed by Schuyler (and imported to the us by The CW).

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But the best name by far is, that course, Aubrey Graham, much better known as Drake: rap superstar, Rihanna stan, and also the guy responsible for unleashing "Hotline Bling" upon the world. Beginning when he was 14, the pre-Drake Graham appeared on 145 illustration of Degrassi, native 2001 to 2008, as basketball star Jimmy Brooks. In the season four two-parter "Time was standing Still," Jimmy gets shot in the ago by a fellow student and also is paralyzed indigenous the waist down in what"s still one of the most famous moments that the series" entire run.