Being one of the first largely successful Canadian shows, Degrassi is an absolutely iconic franchise that contains several prominent series. The franchise is a pivotal landmark in Canadian history. It began way back in 1979 with a series titled The Kids Of Degrassi Street, which was spawned from four short films that took place in the same universe; a Toronto neighbourhood called Degrassi.
This franchise certainly had a humble beginning, and impressively grew over the years with other series such as Degrassi Junior High, Degrassi High, Degrassi: The Next Generation, and Degrassi: Next Class. The Degrassi franchise is widely praised for dealing with important and controversial issues such as teen pregnancy, abortion, sexuality, acceptance, and self-harm.
Many instalments of the Degrassi franchise are praised for being ahead of their time, boldly dealing with controversial topics and educating their audiences in a progressive yet entertaining way.
With complex, interesting characters and fascinating relationships, Degrassi manages to be much more than just an educational program. There are many engaging relationships throughout the Degrassi franchise. Let's take a look at 5 of the best, and 5 of the worst.
10 ALLI BHANDARI AND LEO LAUZON (THE NEXT GENERATION) - WORST
The Next Generation was an amazing show for years, but when its original cast and crew began to depart and be replaced by new actors and writers, the storylines and characters began to suffer. The later seasons of The Next Generation introduced several new characters, with the originals being out of high school by that time, and the new cast included Alli Bhandari.
Alli was a likeable teenage girl who frequently made poor decisions, especially concerning her romantic relationships. Dating Leo Lauzon was one of those bad decisions, and the relationship eventually heartbreakingly became abusive.
9 J.T. YORKE AND LIBERTY VAN ZANDT (THE NEXT GENERATION) - BEST
The fledgling romance between Liberty and J.T. began very early on in The Next Generation, starting when it was revealed that Liberty had a crush on J.T. for quite some time. Eventually, J.T. realized that he shared those same feelings for Liberty, and the two began a relationship.
Their dynamic was beautiful right up until the end, and the two remained close through some really rough times. In one of Degrassi's most controversial and dark episodes ever, J.T. was fatally stabbed and Liberty tragically discovered his body.
8 PAIGE MICHALCHUK AND MATT OLEANDER (THE NEXT GENERATION) - WORST
Paige Michalchuk was a Degrassi icon and the popular girl in her high school. She had a strong personality and quickly became a fan-favorite. Many of Paige's storylines were very well-written and powerful, and one of the most memorable was her relationship with school teacher, Matt Oleander.
Paige was a very intelligent student, but that doesn't mean that she didn't make her share of bad decisions. Dating a teacher is just one example of this, and Paige's short-lived romance with Mr. Oleander is one that most fans would rather forget.
7 ELLIE NASH AND MARCO DEL ROSSI (THE NEXT GENERATION) - BEST
In Degrassi's second season, Marco Del Rossi was introduced and shortly after, he struck up an awkward romance with Ellie Nash. At this point, Marco was in denial of the fact that he was gay, and Ellie had no idea. Once Marco broke up with Ellie and came out to his friends, Ellie held some ill will against him.
This was very short-lived, though, as the two quickly mended their relationship and became the best of friends. Marco and Ellie had been through a lot together, and had grown very close over several seasons of The Next Generation. Their friendship is one of the most iconic ones that Degrassi has to offer.
6 MANNY SANTOS AND CRAIG MANNING (THE NEXT GENERATION) - WORST
Manny Santos was a longterm character on The Next Generation, and definitely a fan-favorite. Early on in the series, when Joey Jeremiah and his stepson, Craig, were still on the show, Manny developed a huge crush on Craig, and from there, a dysfunctional romance began. Manny and Craig had a relatively short-lived relationship, but it was nonetheless destructive, with Manny, only in her early teens at the time, becoming pregnant with Craig's child and being forced to have an abortion.
5 PAIGE MICHALCHUK AND ALEX NUNEZ (THE NEXT GENERATION) - BEST
In The Next Generation's fifth season, Paige struck up a romance with her roommate, Alex Nunez. Though their romance didn't ultimately get a happy ending, the dynamic between these two is one that is unforgettable, as they had compelling chemistry and seemed to compliment each other perfectly. Paige's romance with Alex is usually cited as her best relationship on the show, and was one of the first lesbian relationships that Degrassi ever created.
4 CLARE EDWARDS AND DREW TORRES (THE NEXT GENERATION) - WORST
Clare and Drew had a close friendship in season 12 of The Next Generation. The two had an endearing bond, and a familial camaraderie. This is why it felt so wrong when their platonic relationship suddenly became romantic.
This was one of the most hated storylines on Degrassi, and for good reason; the two only came together after they've broken up with their former significant others, and the need to put romance between these two into the mix when they really should have just comforted each other as friends, felt unnecessary.
3 JOEY JEREMIAH AND CAITLYN RYAN (DEGRASSI HIGH & THE NEXT GENERATION) - BEST
Joey and Caitlin are both original characters in the Degrassi franchise, both appearing in some of the earliest installments and the Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High series. Meeting when they were only in middle school, Caitlin and Joey were an unlikely pair since their personalities were so different. But it turned out that a romance between these two would become one of the most iconic relationships Degrassi has ever seen.
Through the drama, fights, heartbreaks, the good times and the bad, fans never stopped rooting for these two. Having them both appear in The Next Generation and start up their romance again was wonderful, but it would have been nice if Degrassi had of kept it that way.
2 EMMA NELSON AND SPINNER/GAVIN MASON (THE NEXT GENERATION) - WORST
Emma and Spinner's relationship is one that is probably the most controversial and hated in Degrassi history, and that is because these two had no relationship before their sudden romance took off in The Next Generation's ninth season. This plot twist infuriated several viewers, as it was such a random, out-of-the-blue turn of events that really just felt like a forced attempt to bring two original characters together for the sake of evoking some cheap nostalgia from the longterm fanbase.
1 SPIKE/CHRISTINE NELSON AND SNAKE/ARCHIE SIMPSON (THE NEXT GENERATION) - BEST
Spike appeared in Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High, and had some of the most memorable storylines, such as becoming pregnant with her daughter, Emma, at age fourteen. Snake was also a long-term original character, so when the two reunited in The Next Generation, it was very satisfying to see a romance begin to develop.
This romance is a very well-received and beloved one, and it's clear that Snake and Spike (who still call each other these ridiculous nicknames, even as married adults) are totally meant to be.