Cult TV

Cult TV Essentials: Degrassi High

In Degrassi High the kids had grown up a bit and moved on to High School. The controversy remained though! Was this show suitable for kids! Hell yeah!

It first aired from 1989 to 1991 and followed the young people from Degrassi Junior High through high school. The show was filmed in downtown Toronto and at Centennial College.

Much like its predecessor, Degrassi High dealt with controversial issues ranging from AIDS, abortion, abuse, alcoholism, cheating, sex, death and suicide, dating, depression, bullying, gay rights, homophobia, racism, the environment, drugs, and eating disorders.

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The first two episodes sparked controversy in the United States over the issue of abortion. The character Erica had scheduled to get an abortion and Canadian viewers saw the full non-edited episode where Erica battles her way through pro-life protesters, one of which is holding up a plastic foetus, saying “Please don’t do it, it’s your last chance”. The American version, which originally aired on PBS, was edited not to show the protesters and no final decision on whether to get the abortion was ever made.

As of October 2005, the American broadcaster, The N, made the decision not to air episodes 101 and 102 “A New Start Parts 1 & 2” due to the subject of abortion. The N made the decision not to air episode 103 “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” due to the references of the abortion made in the previous episode.

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In Australia, all episodes originally aired unedited in their original run throughout the 1990s, but, however, were censored when repeated on Nickelodeon Australia. The episode “A New Start” was edited in such a way that it appeared Erica was never pregnant by the end of the episode, abruptly ending after a joke between Wheels, Joey and Snake, although the scene of Erica reading her pregnancy test was kept as a still over the credits. The entire second episode was removed altogether, a similar situation that occurred with “Showtime Parts One and Two”. These episodes deal with teen suicide. However, when the episodes were repeated in 2009 on ABC2, the original, unedited episodes were shown, with the episodes (#25 Showtime part 1 and #26 Showtime part 2) featuring Claude Tanner’s suicide.

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