This Is a Blog: Numbers Time: Degrassi Turns 500, or Does It?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Numbers Time: Degrassi Turns 500, or Does It?

If you’ve talked to me recently, you know I recently discovered Degrassi. I had heard about it since the 80’s, but I never got into it. I was pushed to watch it for the first two seasons of the recent Netflix iteration, and finally gave in at season 3. You guys, it’s amazing. Watch it.

This thing is a Canadian juggernaut, and something is missing from your life if you don’t watch it. The original Degrassi Junior High ran three seasons, then followed the characters to Degrassi High for two, ending in 1991. In 2001, Degrassi: The Next Generation followed Emma, who first appeared as a baby conceived by a Degrassi High student, on her own first day of Degrassi Junior High. By the time Emma and her friends went off to college, the show had already built an entirely new cast of younger students to follow. That formula of seamlessly folding in new characters has kept the show on the air consistently since then. The 15th season was re-branded as the Netflix series Degrassi: Next Class, now four seasons strong. So far, I’ve only watched the last two iterations. I’m probably going to go back and watch the original soon. It’s all on YouTube.

The Next Class season 2 episode “#ThrowBackThursday” was the celebrated 500th episode, with original Next Generation cast members returning for a reunion. Trying to compare Degrassi to other shows I’ve binged, I looked up how many episodes Degrassi has run, and the numbers just don’t add up.

Degrassi Junior High ran 42 episodes and Degrassi High ran 28. Degrassi TNG hit the 366 episode mark. “#ThrowBackThursday” was the 15th episode of Next Class. 42+28+366+15= 451? Where are the other 49 episodes?

The franchise actually started in 1979 as a series of 26 after school specials called “The Kids of Degrassi Street.” That’s still only 477.

This is where the math gets hazy. There are two ways that get us close to 500, but neither gets us there. Some of the TNG episodes are TV movies that run in syndication as multi-part half-hours, making the official number 385. That gets us close, 496. The show also produced 6 specials where the cast goes around the world doing charity work, 2 Halloween-themed specials featuring cast members, and a special where the cast and crew take a look back at the series. No combination of these gets us to exactly 500.

If they just counted TNG and Next Class, the reunion would be the 400th episode (385+15), but they’re clearly invested in this 500 episode thing. Three different characters make reference to the number 500 (fun fact: this includes Holly J, whose 100th appearance is this episode). All the promotional material and articles written about this episode push the 500 angle pretty hard.

Maybe my sources for determining episode number are just flawed. I’ve really only done internet research. But also equally possible, a bunch of TV producers fudged the numbers. They’ve definitely now gone over 500, but did they lie to us because they wanted to make this reunion happen? Am I making something really dumb into a bigger deal because I have been watching way too much Degrassi? Maybe the answer to all these questions is yes, but more likely it’s no, because you can never watch too much Degrassi.

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