Degrassi Co-Creator Linda Schuyler on Degrassi’s Emmy Nomination

In honour of Degrassi’s 2012 Emmy Nomination, Degrassi co-creator and executive producer Linda Schuyler recently did an interview with Gold Derby.

In the interview (which includes a 17 minute video), Linda discusses how Degrassi has been influenced by her years as a junior high school teacher. She also talks about Degrassi’s mission and what the series is known for, such as its fearlessness and issue-based storylines.

Obviously one storyline and character in particular is getting a lot of attention. Degrassi’s portrayal of a transgender teenager is definitely a television ‘first,’ and it has already won Degrassi a Peabody Award. This is obviously a source of pride for the producers of Degrassi (as it should be!). In this interview, Linda explained: “When we received that award they said to us, ‘Degrassi neither trivialized nor over-sensationalized the issue,’ and … that’s what we aim for.”

Make sure you watch the entire video interview with Linda on It is very interesting for all past and present Degrassians!

Linda Schuyler & Stefan Brogren Address Degrassi Controversy

If you are a Degrassi fan, the name Florida Family Association should probably sound familiar. This conservative organization has been criticizing Degrassi for years because of the show’s many LGBT characters. They have lead various email campaigns in an attempt to get companies to stop advertising during episodes of Degrassi.

Degrassi producers Linda Schuyler and Stefan Brogren addressed the controversy in separate interviews this past week. A major storyline in season 12 involves a split along religious lines over LGBT issues. Many fans have speculated that this storyline is in response to the FFA.

On that topic, Stefan Brogren said, “The truth is, there’s a lot of kids out there who hold very deeply onto their faith, and that can cause problems within the teen community.” Degrassi seems committed to portraying the religious characters fairly (both of them are regulars), as opposed to instantly making them the “bad guy.” Of course, Degrassi will also continue giving storylines to Adam, one of the first teenage transgender characters in TV history. “It’s something that we wanted to address for a couple of years,” Stefan told The Toronto Star, “but we really didn’t know how. We didn’t know what the stats were. But we’ve become aware of how many young people are dealing with questions about their gender.”

Ultimately, it’s clear that the producers and writers are aware of the FFA controversy, but that only seems to make them more passionate about accurately portraying LGBT characters on the show. “We’re continuing to challenge people in their tolerance and understanding of sexual identity,” Linda Schuyler said in a recent interview. “[The FFA] have that narrow mindset, and then they say they are against bullying. It’s just insane. They were quite active, writing to our broadcasters, asking them to pull ads from our show. Fortunately, neither broadcaster responded.

Q&A: Degrassi producer Linda Schuyler on what to expect this school year
Degrassi, Then and Now

Degrassi Celebrates 300 Episodes

A big congratulations goes out to the entire cast and crew (past and present) of Degrassi, as the series is filming it’s 300th episode today. That is quite the milestone! Degrassi celebrated with this very original Degrassi-style cake, presented to executive producers Linda Schuyler and Stephen Stohn by Canadian TV host Ben Mulroney. Stephen clarified on Twitter that the two figures on top of the cake are him and Linda, with Mr. Simpson (Stefan) sitting on the front steps.

Stephen also pointed out on Twitter that Degrassi has now passed Beverley Hills, 90210 for most episodes of a television series. As well, Degrassi writer Matt Huether tweeted that Degrassi is 2nd only to The Simpsons for most episodes of active shows.

Way to go Degrassi! Here’s to another 300 episodes!

Degrassi Cast at the GLAAD Awards

The GLAAD Media Awards took place in San Francisco this past weekend, and a few of our Degrassians were in attendance. Degrassi cast members Annie Clark and Jordan Todosey were there, along with Degrassi co-creator and executive producer Linda Schuyler. All three of them looked stunning as they posed for photos on the red carpet. During the ceremony, Degrassi lost the Outstanding Drama Series award to Grey’s Anatomy. Nonetheless, it’s clear that the entire Degrassi community has a lot to be proud of.

Check out photos of Annie, Jordy, and Linda in our gallery!

Linda Schuyler Named to the Order of Ontario

Degrassi co-creator and executive producer Linda Schuyler has been named to the Order of Ontario!

The Order of Ontario is considered to be the province’s highest honour, and Linda is one of 27 outstanding individuals who were chosen. The Order of Ontario appointees are chosen for their contributions to history, politics, science, art, law, medicine, the environment and philanthropy. Nominations are made by members of the public, recognizing forward-thinkers, activists, and humanitarians in the province of Ontario.

Linda and the other nominees will be invested at a ceremony on January 26th.

Congratulations to Linda for this well-deserved honour!

Linda Schuyler Wins the Bonham Centre Award

Degrassi creator Linda Schuyler can add another award to her impressive list of achievements. She was recently honoured with the Bonham Centre Award from the University of Toronto’s Mark S Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies.

The award was presented to Linda yesterday along with Dustin Lance Black (screenwriter of Milk). The award recognizes individuals for their contributions to the development of sex education and sexual diversity in the public sphere. Past winners include sex educator Sue Johanson, who guest starred on Degrassi Junior High and TNG.

At the ceremony, Mark S. Bonham discussed Degrassi’s lasting influence on youth culture, stating: “Linda’s series was the first TV show with an adolescent cast and an adolescent audience .. And in a positive way, that shaped and educated this generation’s thinking and outlook on life.

Former Degrassi star Adamo Ruggiero was also on hand to describe how Linda and Degrassi changed his life: “I remember growing up in a Catholic school and being bullied,” Adamo said. “I was struggling with my own sexual identity when Linda plucked me from the suburbs of Toronto and gave me this beautiful gift of Marco.

Congratulations Linda!


Degrassi Accepts Peabody Award

Congratulations ad from TeenNick and Degrassi’s Peabody Award

The Peabody Awards were handed out today in New York, and several Degrassi representatives were at the event. You might remember that earlier this year it was announced that Degrassi would receive a Peabody Award for its groundbreaking transgender storyline. Today they were presented with this award. Executive producers Stephen Stohn and Linda Schuyler were there along with Jordan Todosey. Stephen has been tweeting pictures from the event, which you can view at his Twitter. Hopefully we will get to see some videos from the event soon!

Linda Schuyler Responds to the Secret of Degrassi’s Longevity

Degrassi creator Linda Schuyler participated in The National Post’s Culture Club column this week. The topic was series longevity. With The Office entering its eighth season, the panel discusses why North American TV shows seem to last so long even after they have run their course. With Degrassi about to enter its 11th season this summer, Linda comments on the secret to its longevity:

Linda: As we head into our 11th season of Degrassi: The Next Generation, (and the 31st year of the franchise!) for me, the secret to longevity has been to have the courage to let characters grow, evolve and eventually leave the show. Our circumstances are somewhat unique, in as much as we have an environment that relies on characters growing each year, responding to each year’s hierarchy within the politics of school setting, and heading eventually to graduation. When our first group of characters graduated from Degrassi: The Next Generation, we were worried that we had audience loyalty to these characters and would need to find a way to keep them part of the show. To this end, we moved our first set of graduates into a shared house as they attended university. With our second tranche of grads we moved them into a university dorm. When our research came in, we found that these storylines were the least satisfying of all our storylines. We learnt, that for all our audience love our characters, they are tuning in for the high school experience and want stories grounded in that world. They look forward to a new crop of Grad Nines as a new school year begins and enjoy, in a bittersweet way, saying goodbye to their favourite grads. We have one added advantage that helps with longevity and that is, as we constantly repopulate the school, our audience is always renewing itself.

Linda also talks about other series she has worked on, and when it’s time to pull the plug. Check out the full discussion right here!

LGBT Characters on Degrassi & Other Teen Shows

A new article in the LA Times draws attention to the increasing number of teenage LGBT characters on television today, and it uses Degrassi as a primary example. Along with shows like Glee, 90210, Pretty Little Liars, and Skins, Degrassi continues to write coming out stories for many of its characters. The article features quotes from the executive producers of these shows, including our own Linda Schuyler. Currently, Degrassi is veering away from stereotypes with LGBT jocks like Riley & Zane. “That whole jock mentality in the locker room — the male bonding — that’s a really tough environment for a gay guy,” says Linda Schuyler.

The number of gay characters on teen dramas has increased dramatically over the past decade. Sometimes we forget how groundbreaking it was for Degrassi to introduce Marco back in 2002. For many fans, Marco is the main reason why they started watching Degrassi. It’s really interesting to see what kind of impact Marco had on a generation. Subsequent gay characters on Degrassi such as Alex, Riley, Zane, etc. were not just brought in for one episode. They are main characters like any other.

The LA Times article is really interesting, and I recommend you all read it. Click here for more.

Degrassi Execs on Abortion, Season 11, & More

An amazing new interview with Degrassi executive producers Linda Schuyer & Stephen Stohn has surfaced tonight from Toronto Star columnist Corey Mintz. Linda & Stephen discuss tough topics like abortion & suicide, plans for season 11, the telanovela format, consequences to the issues, and much more. I love interviews with Linda & Stephen, because they provide so much creative insight into the making of Degrassi. In particular, this conversation seems so honest. It’s fascinating to read about the behind the scenes aspect of this show & their careers.

The interview starts with Linda & Stephen discussing the most difficult topics to deal with on Degrassi. They both agree that suicide is always a challenge. Abortion is another topic that can be “untouchable.” Linda Schuyler explains why The N [now TeenNick] was reluctant to air the abortion episode:

SCHUYLER: The final shot is her walking through the door, going to get the abortion … And it’s very interesting. Because in the states they said, we could have shown that show, IF, at the very last shot, she showed remorse. She can’t be resolute. She has to be remorseful. If she was remorseful, we could show the shot.
MINTZ: So, if you cut to her crying …
SCHUYLER: Exactly. And we wouldn’t do that.
MINTZ: Really?
SCHUYLER: Absolutely not. What kind of message is that for young girls?

On bringing in the new generation of characters:

STOHN: And our ratings started to go down a little bit. And the network came to us and said, we still love you. You’re still our number one show. But you know what, we’ve got to prepare for a soft landing. All our research shows, seven years is it. So let’s start developing some other things. And finally, Linda and I, and I’ll actually in this case give credit to both of us on this, because the writers loved writing for those characters. So the thought of bringing in new characters, they would say yes, but they wouldn’t do it. And we finally just said, no, these characters are gone. We are not writing about them again. There’s a whole bunch of new characters. You’ve got to bring in six new characters. And then all the sudden the ratings started to go back up like that. You realize, that the way, Linda, you put it, is, first of all, there are different metaphorical ways you can say it, that the school is the main character. And so we were losing that by going beyond the school.
SCHUYLER: Much as they love the characters, they weren’t that intrigued with them after they left high school.

Season 11 is on everybody’s minds these days, as we’ve heard about early brainstorming sessions with the writers. And now we’re hearing about a new generation of grade 9′s that are to be introduced! Of course the question everybody wants to know…

MINTZ: What happens in season eleven?
SCHUYLER: Most people don’t believe us but we don’t know until we get in that room. We don’t have a plan. All we know is that halfway through season eleven, the current gang that are in twelfth grade are gonna graduate at the end of our twenty-four part telenovella. At that point we’ll bring in a whole bunch of ninth graders who will be new to the school.

This is just a brief snippet of all sorts of interesting topics brought up in this interview. Read the entire conversation (it is worth your while) by visiting Corey Mintz’s blog.
Edit: You can also read the full article on The Toronto Star’s website.