Confessions of a “Degrassi fan

I have to confess: I’m a mom of teens but I’m just as hooked on the TV show Degrassi as they are. Yes, the show is full of teenage drama and angst, but I can’t help it. When Drew fakes illness to stay home from school because he’s afraid of getting beaten up, or when Clare realizes her mom’s upcoming marriage will make Clare’s boyfriend her stepbrother, I have to watch.

But aside from the guilty pleasure I get by setting aside all my mom duties and enjoying TV show, I’m also spending time with my two daughters talking about everything from sexting (Alli’s mistake) to what it must be like to be transgender like Adam.

The TeenNick show explores real topics and shows teens making real mistakes-and suffering the consequences. There’s no neat wrap-up when we realize a character has bipolar disorder and is not handling a romantic breakup well. Instead, there’s TV drama that often closely matches real-life teen drama.

And that’s what Degrassi does best. It provides a starting point to talk about topics your tweens and teens might experience, and how these situations can be handled. It’s led to a lot of great conversations in my house about things my kids may face in middle and high school.

To kick off the start of a new season Feb. 20, four of the Degrassi stars visited Chicago and sat down for an interview with my daughters, Grace and Emma. When you see Luke Bilyk (Drew) and Jahmil French (Dave) teasing the girls Aislinn Paul (Clare), Melinda Shankar (Alli) during the interview, it becomes clear why they do such a great job of portraying real teens. You’ll laugh when Luke announces that he’s homeschooled and therefore the most popular kid in his school. All in all, it’s a fun look at behind-the-scenes Degrassi that your tweens and teens will enjoy.

The season kicks off with “Underneath it All” parts one and two at 8 p.m. central time Monday, Feb. 20 and Friday, Feb. 24. The new episodes of the series follow at 8 p.m. central time Fridays on TeenNick.

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