It's a truth universally acknowledged by people on the internet that everyone loves Degrassi. In fact, everyone loves it so much that Drake, formerly known as the actor Aubrey Graham, reunited many actors with whom he appeared on Degrassi: The Next Generation for his latest music video "I'm Upset." But if Drake can pull off a mega reunion that gives Avengers: Infinity War a run for its money, why can't Netflix find the time to reveal what the future holds for the show's latest iteration, Degrassi: Next Class?
The series, which like its well-known predecessors follows a number of teens at the fictional Degrassi Community School, premiered on the streaming service in 2016. Since then the series has aired four 10-episode seasons that have covered everything from gender identity and mental health to self-harm and sex. It's a worthy successor to the beloved TNG, which ran for 14 seasons, but Netflix has been tight-lipped with regards to the future of Next Class since the fourth season debuted last July; it hasn't been renewed, but it hasn't been canceled either. (Netflix had no comment on the show's future at this time.)
This is important to note because Netflix often makes the decision to renew or cancel a show fairly quickly. The poorly reviewed comedy Friends From College was renewed after just one month. In comparison, the two full months it took the streaming service to pick up the critically beloved family dramedy One Day at a Time for a third season felt like an eternity. On the other end of the spectrum, Netflix made the decision to pull the plug on the '90s-set coming-of-age series Everything Sucks! after approximately two months. Basically, it's odd that it has been nearly a year and we've heard next to nothing about the future of Next Class.
However, although there's been no official word from Netflix, it certainly looks like the creative team has stayed busy behind the scenes. In 2016, series co-creator Linda Schuyler revealed on a podcast that brainstorming for Seasons 5 and 6 was underway, while it appears that casting for new roles was also in the works as of late 2016. But Schuyler then revealed in an interview, in September 2017, that she and the creative team were "at the mercy of [Netflix's] timeline." Still, she sounded hopeful.
"I think they're doing a lot of internal thinking about how they're going to move forward. That's the sense we get from them," she said. "We're certainly optimistic right now that we will continue our storytelling with Netflix."
This past March, Yahoo also reported that two characters introduced in Season 3 as Syrian refugees were poised to remain with the show through Season 5. Unfortunately, these periodic updates from Schuyler are all that's out there until Netflix announces its plans for the show, and the lack of news has left many fans wondering if they've seen the last of their favorite characters. If that's the case, it's unfortunate they've been left hanging for so long.
Frankly, Netflix would be wise to keep Degrassi around, even if it's not the current Next Class iteration. Not only does any series set in the extended universe have a built-in audience thanks to the familiar name, but the shows set within that world were also some of the first to take teens seriously and treat their thoughts and feelings and actions as if they matter. These shows laid the groundwork for many of the shows Netflix is now producing, including 13 Reasons Why. And Degrassi doesn't need to feature any ghosts or overly graphic and needless depictions of sexual assault to remain part of the conversation. But perhaps the biggest thing Degrassi: Next Class has going for it is that it's a teen-driven series, and Netflix has been making a major push into programming aimed at young adults.
As reported in Vulture's recent eye-opening story about the inner workings of Netflix's sometimes baffling decision-making process, the streaming service recently saw an "opportunity to reinvent young-adult dramas." It's why in the last two years Netflix has ramped up production and released a number of original programs centered on young teens, including the incredibly popular supernatural drama Stranger Things, as well as The End of the F***ing World, American Vandal, and On My Block among others.
The success of these shows reveal that members of Generation Z are hungry to see themselves represented onscreen. However, there's also a draw for slightly older audiences, too. Many of the shows listed above are actually universal in their appeal, but if we're talking specifically about Degrassi, millennials, as in those born between 1981 and 1996, grew up on older iterations of the show and many have been inspired to tune into Next Class out of nostalgia and the possibility that former Degrassi stars might reprise their roles.
And this reveals a key business reason to keep Degrassi around: even for subscription services like Netflix that don't rely on advertising, appealing to younger audiences is vital to success. Not only are millennials projected to soon overtake Baby Boomers as the largest living adult generation, but they are also more likely to spend money on streaming services. According to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey, 61 percent of people ages 18 to 29 said they used streaming services to watch TV rather than cable. It would make sense then that Netflix would want to retain those viewers, and what better way than by giving them more of what they want: Degrassi, the epitome of young adult programming.
Still, if the four seasons of Next Class that have already been released are all we're destined to get at Netflix, then it's been a wild and fun ride that's added yet another respectable chapter to Degrassi's long and lasting legacy. And who knows, maybe several years from now one of the show's cast members will become an insanely popular rapper and reunite the entire cast in one of their videos.
The first four seasons of Degrassi: Next Class are currently streaming on Netflix.