If there's one high school drama that tackles real stuff, it's it's the long-running Canadian teen soap Degrassi. The series has had several different incarnations throughout the years, and after being cancelled by its longtime home TeenNick in 2015, the series was given new life on Netflix as Degrassi: Next Class . The series, which brought back many of the actors from the previous seasons on TeenNick as well as introduced us to new Degrassi students, began streaming on Netflix in January with 10 new episodes that focused on Degrassi's infamous brand of "ripped from real life" drama. Perhaps the biggest difference, however, was that this time, the series had a special focus on the impact that technology, social media, and all things interweb has on the lives of teenagers. Now that Degrassi: Next Class is renewed for a Season 2 on Netflix, it has the ability to explore even more issues associated with our screen-obsessed society — and that's really important.
The world looks a lot different now than it does when Degrassi: The Next Generation premiered in 2001. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat — the social media platforms we use to connect and share with others today were virtually nonexistent. Whether you're a social media superstar or prefer to live your life as offline as possible, growing up in a world where life can be led online presents its own set of problems. Season 1 of Degrassi: Next Class presents tech-related issues that range from the hilarious to the very, very serious. In one episode, Shay makes some butt adjustments via Photoshop to get some Instagram likes from her crush, while in another, Maya is met with violent, misogynistic online threats after writing a feminist anthem about catcalling. Then there are episodes where the rumor mill runs at warp speed — viral videos, texts, and posts on "FaceRange" pages spread gossip far faster than any whisper could.
Still, that doesn't mean that Degrassi: Next Class is a totally different breed from its predecessors. The Generation Z focused series may warn us about the ways that our online lives can cause damage, but all in all, the teens on this series face the same issues that the Degrassi kids always have. Teenagers have always dealt with body image issues, long before Kim Kardashian ever showed off her curves on Instagram. Women have dealt with rape and other violent threats long before people could tweet these hateful messages in 140 characters. Rumors may have spread slower before texting, but that didn't make it any easier to shut them down. The Degrassi kids may be the first to deal with the social media landscape as it exists now, but they certainly aren't alone in dealing with the struggles of so many teens.