Christopher “Kit” Hood has passed away at the age of 76. For many, his name may not ring any bells, but Kit was responsible for creating one of the greatest teen dramas ever to grace television: Degrassi.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hood passed away suddenly at his home in Nova Scotia on January 20. His cause of death is still unknown.
For three decades, the kids of Degrassi helped teens cope with topics that we probably weren’t comfortable talking to our parents about. And they made marginalized kids feel seen before representation was “popular”.
The students of Degrassi Community School weren’t just characters, they were our friends. They were us.
So, while it was hard to go through nearly 400 episodes, we compiled a list of the 10 most groundbreaking episodes of Degrassi: The Next Generation.
10. Mirror in the Bathroom (Season 2, Episode 11)
Eating disorders are rarely shown from a male perspective, even in 2020. But Degrassi made a point in 2002 to show teens that no matter your gender, we all tend to worry about the same things.
In season 2, Toby decides he wants to shed his nerdy image and join the school’s wrestling team. He needs to drop down to a lower weight category and he begins to obsess that he won’t lose the weight in time. He turns to laxatives, then anorexia. When his sister forces him to eat, he starts to develop bulimia.
He eventually drops enough weight to join the team, but he ends up passing out before he can play in a match. In true Degrassi fashion, the school comes together in support of Toby and he beats his eating disorder with help from his friends.
9. Pride (Season 3, Episodes 4 &5)
Degrassi OG Marco has secretly come out to his best friend Ellie but is nervous to come out to the rest of the gang. To protect Marco from any suspicions, Ellie pretends to be Marco’s girlfriend but eventually gets tired of covering for him.
It’s obvious that Marco isn’t ready to come out, but in a totally crappy move, Ellie guilts him into doing so (seriously, never guilt your friends into coming out before they’re ready). He comes out to Spinner at the end of episode 4, which doesn’t go very well.
In episode 5, Spinner can’t handle that Marco is gay and even writes gay slurs about Marco in the bathroom stalls. Later in the episode, Marco is beaten by a group of homophobic men and is found bloodied in the street by Jimmy. Spinner eventually turns around and accepts his friend for who he is.
8. Don’t Believe the Hype ( Season 2, Episode 11)
After 9/11, many movies and TV shows decided to depict Muslims as the enemy, perpetuating stereotypes and adding to the Islamophobia that plagued the world.
Instead of feeding into the hype, Degrassi educated its young viewers on the harmful effects of Islamophobia and that Islam is nothing to be afraid of.
In “Don’t Beleive the Hype”, Hazel decides to hide her Somalian/Muslim identity and passes as Jamaican for the school’s annual International Day. She even bullies another Muslim girl Fareeza for wearing a hijab. Later, Fareeza’s project on her home country of Iraq is spray-painted with the word “terrorist” and Hazel is the prime suspect. She’s found innocent after it was discovered that a group of sophomores vandalized Fareeza’s project.
Hazel later comes forward and admits that shortly after 9/11, she was beaten up and called a “terrorist”, which caused her to hide who she really was. She later redoes her project and educates her friends and classmates on her Somalian heritage and Islam without any fear.
7. Accidents Will Happen ( Season 3, Episodes 14 & 15)
This episode was hard to get a hold of in 2004. “Accidents”, which focused on teen pregnancy, unprotected sex, and abortion was banned by U.S. distributors of the show. In fact, American audiences had to wait until 2006 to watch the episode.
Manny Santos was Degrassi Community School’s original wild girl, and in season 3, she discovers that she’s pregnant with Craig’s baby after she finds out that he didn’t use a condom. Manny, who is 14, wants to get an abortion but is pressured by both Craig and Emma to keep the baby. In the end, she realizes that the decision on what to do with the baby is hers and hers alone. She confides in her mom that she’s pregnant, and together, they go to an abortion clinic.
6. My Body is a Cage (Season 10, Episodes 15 & 16)
Before this episode, trans teens didn’t have any representation to turn to, but in 2010, Degrassi introduced its first transgender character, Adam Torres.
Since enrolling in Degrassi, Adam has always presented himself as a boy without any problem. However, things go awry when he begins flirting with his classmate Bianca, who nudges Adam in the chest, feeling his binder in the process. She then proceeds to rip open his shirt in front of the school, revealing that he was born a girl.
To avoid being harassed any further, he decides to forgo his happiness and spends episode 16 as his former self “Gracie”. Clearly unhappy, Adam’s friend Clare and brother Drew urge him to be his true self.
The episode ends with him, his mother, and brother gathering around a bonfire and burning his girl clothes.
5. Our Lips are Sealed (Season 5, Episodes 15 & 16)
In another eating disorder episode, Emma struggles with anorexia after Manny asks for some help losing weight. Emma becomes obsessed with her seemingly innocent diet plan and later she collapses during an intervention.
Manny warns Emma that if she doesn’t get ahold of her illness, she’ll die. Emma promises her friends and family that she will beat her illness no matter what.
4. Don’t Dream It’s Over (Season 6, Episode 17)
This episode shocked everyone when it aired.
Throughout season 3, viewers watched as Terri faced emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her boyfriend, Rick. After Terri breaks up with him, their drama teacher pairs them for an assignment and Terri gets back together with him.
During an argument in the woods, Rick grabs Terri’s arm and refuses to let go. As she tries to pull away, Rick pushes her down and Terry hits her head on a rock. Rick transfer schools while Terri is put in a coma. The episode ends with the camera focusing on Terri’s hospital bed, and for some reason, the series never lets viewers know if Terri lived or died.
3. Shout (Season 2, Episodes 7 & 8)
This episode deals with the difficult topic of date rape. Paige initially tells Hazel that she had sex with her crush, Dean. But she later reveals that she didn’t want to have sex to begin with and that she told Dean to stop more than once. Even though Hazel tells Paige that what happened to her was rape, Paige still blames herself.
In the second episode, she takes back her power by singing a song of strength and resilience to Dean during a Battle of the Bands competition. With the help of her friends, Paige decides to go to counseling.
2. Rock This Town (Season 6, Episode 11)
J.T. Yorke was one of the best, most loved characters in Degrassi‘s history. And his death still has Degrassi stans bitter.
In this shocking episode, J.T. is murdered at his on-again-off-again girlfriend Liberty’s birthday party. He finally decides to confess his love for Liberty but stops after he sees kids from the rival high school peeing on his car. After confronting them, he turns to go back to the party, but he’s stabbed to death.
Liberty finds him leaning against his car and she cries for help. What makes Liberty’s heartache worse is the fact that she and J.T. just gave up their baby for adoption, and that she never got to know how J.T. truly felt about her.
1. Time Stands Still ( Season 4, Episodes 7 & 8)
It might be cliche to make this episode number one, but besides J.T.’s death, Jimmy getting shot shook Degrassi fans to the core.
After a year, Rick re-enrolls in Degrassi and Terri’s friends are rightfully angry that Rick decided to show his face again. He’s constantly bullied by Spinner, Jay, and Alex, but Jimmy tells them to leave him alone.
During a quiz show between Degrassi and Northern, Spinner and Jay dunk a bucket of yellow paint and feathers on Rick. Embarrassed, Rick runs home to grab his father’s gun. He goes back to school and hides in the bathroom stalls
Rick confronts Jimmy at gunpoint and as Jimmy turns to run, Rick closes his eyes and pulls the trigger. Everyone remembers Jimmy’s scream and the feeling they had as they watched Jimmy collapse to the ground.
Rick ends up killing himself, and Jimmy ends up paralyzed in a wheelchair for the remainder of the series.
If you’re feeling nostalgic, every single episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation is available to watch on YouTube.
We say “thank you” to Mr. Hood for creating a show that impacted the lives of so many teens and for letting us “know [we] can make it through.”
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Alysia Stevenson is a twenty-seven New York City transplant currently living in Florida with her boyfriend and three furbabies. When she’s not writing, you can find her watching beauty tutorials on Youtube or Parks and Rec for the millionth time.