Another week, another HBO Max cancellation at the hands of Warner Brothers Discovery. This time, it happens to be the once-popular Canadian show, Degrassi. Known for its proactive themes focusing on high school kids, Degrassi aired for over 20 years under different variations starting back in 1979: The Kids of Degrassi Street (1979-1986), Degrassi Junior High (1987-1989), Degrassi: The Next Generation (2001-2015) and Degrassi: Next Class (2016-2017).
The series’ popularity rose back in 2001 when it came out of the gates swinging with Emma chatting and meeting an online predator. Degrassi was never shy about veering away from controversial subjects: Who could forget J.T. being stabbed at a party? Or is Jimmy (aka Mr. Drake) getting shot by Rick? Rape, drugs, abortion, racism, Degrassi has most likely covered it. Degrassi was Euphoria before Euphoria. The Canadian drama series has over 300 episodes (which is currently streaming on HBO Max) and has been nominated four times for Outstanding Children’s Program at the Primetime Emmys.
Originally, the series was greenlit in January 2022 and was set to be released on streaming sometime in 2023. It was expected to be 10-hour-long episodes. Lara Azzopardi (The Bold Type, Mary Kills People) and Julia Cohen (Riverdale, The Royals, A Million Little Things) were confirmed as showrunners of the reboot. There wasn’t much information on the plot or new cast of characters, but the shooting was supposed to start this past summer. That was all before the merger of Warner Brothers and Discovery, which has been on a canceling spree since David Zaslav took over the company. By now, we all know about the shocking cancellation of Batgirl, which cost Warner Brothers Discovery over $90 million. Degrassi’s cancellation is not a surprise, given the fact that Warner Brothers Discovery lost a reported 2.3 Billion dollars net loss in the recent quarter. Despite the negative feedback that Zaslav has gotten for canceling so much content on HBO Max, the CEO defended his reasoning for making these drastic, but logical decisions:
“Spending money with abandon all in their service of building sub numbers is, in our view, deeply flawed,” Zaslav said during the earning call. “We’ve learned what doesn’t work” and that the decision to remove so much content is based on the fact that it simply wasn’t gaining traction for the streaming service. “The audience will tell you what they love. They’ll spend time with it, watch it and rewatch it, “Zaslav said. He later added, “We’re trying to be deliberate about the shows that are helping us.”
At the moment, HBO Max isn’t exactly in the best shape it could possibly be in. Zaslav is correct in stating that spending a ton of money on content that isn’t guaranteeing revenue is pointless. Netflix is learning that very lesson as we speak. Regarding Degrassi, the teen drama will always hold a special place in the hearts of fans who grew up with the series. Could the reboot return sometime in the near future? It’s definitely possible, though there have been no hints of such a thing happening. Degrassi is a valuable name, and though the Canadian series isn’t even close to the level of a Harry Potter or James Bond in terms of intellectual property, it has a built-in audience willing to give the show a chance based on its name. As of this writing, the showrunners have yet to speak on the series being canceled. There’s no telling how far they got in the pre-production phase, but it definitely stings to have this project cut without seeing how the reboot adapted to the current landscape.
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