Monday, October 20, 2008

Death of an Institution?

So, here we are "Degrassi" devotees. The cast of "The Next Generation"* that we grew to know and love are almost entirely gone. It was inevitable, I suppose, but that doesn't make the change any more palatable. At least not in the short-term. At this point, the situation has gotten so out of hand that characters newly introduced only two seasons ago are leaving for Kenya. And apparently Kenya is in Beverly Hills.

*It seems a bit comical to me that the relaunches of the "Degrassi" and "90210" franchises at least entertained the notion of taking on "The Next Generation" in their titles. As if the recycling of an old concept wasn't enough, they needed to also steal** from the "Star Trek" universe and slap "TNG" on there. That is patently ridiculous, despite the fact that I have rather enjoyed the re-introduction of "Degrassi" to Canadians and Americans alike.

**Speaking of stealing, is anyone else completely weirded out by the fact that "90210" is ripping off the interracial family aspect of "South of Nowhere", complete with the black son being adopted (from what I understand)? Granted, "South of Nowhere" was technically ripping "90210" off with the whole family moving from Middle America--the Walshes being from Minnesota, the Carlins moving to California from Ohio, and the Wilsons being Kansans--to the crazy world of the City of Angels, complete with newly-made friends having famous parents, but it doesn't make it any easier to accept that new "90210" is ripping off a show that's actually still on television in addition to cannibalizing its predecessor.

The episode of "Degrassi" that aired on The N Friday saw Shenae Grimes leaving unexpectedly, obviously to the far more important world of pseudo-network television. Her new role on "90210" affords her the status of starring on The CW, adding an additional letter of stature to the network-importance equation. In two more years, do not be surprised to see chain-smoking Shenae on a network with three(!) letters in its name, like NBC, ABC, CBS, or Fox.

Shenae's defection is cause for possible alarm, though. Maybe I'm getting old, but there was a day when the cast of high schoolers on "90210" were the right age: 30. This whole approach of casting youngsters like Shenae Grimes and Tristan Wilds--neither of whom are 20 years old--to play youngsters seems short-sighted. How the hell can they know what it's like to be teenagers? There is one thing of which I am certain: Aaron Fucking Spelling would never have let this happen.

Will no one honor his memory? Maybe there is hope after all...

"90210" bullshit aside, these first two episodes of the newest season of "Degrassi" have me very concerned. The prominence of the bland replacement characters has thus far produced nothing more than a tepid reaction. I like Mia well enough, I guess, but now she seems to be front-and-center, and there's only so much mileage you can get out of the sexy teen mother. Honestly, I'm not sure any of the characters that have come in to replace every original cast member can prove to be engaging enough to want to keep watching the show. I guess I have to keep watching in the hopes that Spinner decides he needs to rape Derek for kicking Jane in the ribs. And before you say, "What the fuck, dude?" just remember that this shows fucking "goes there", and I can hope it goes there.

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