Don’t let the name fool you: Next Class really isn’t an entirely new show, but rather an enhanced extension of the Degrassi you thought you said goodbye to this past summer. For lack of a better (or more original) phrase, it’s The Next Generation on steroids.
Watching Next Class — which kicks off a 10-episode run tonight on Canada’s Family channel before dropping its entire first season on Netflix on Jan. 15 — feels like bumping into a friend you haven’t seen in a few months, only to discover they had a little work done during your time apart. It’s the same friend, but they have new stories to tell, and they look a whole lot better while telling them.
And it’s not just the aesthetics that have received a facelift; the drama, if at all possible, has also intensified. Maya’s musical aspirations have been (pun alert!) amplified, Miles and Tristan’s pithy ex-games have evolved into an all-out war of the roses and there’s a fun sense of recklessness with several other characters that didn’t quite reveal itself in the series’ previous incarnation.
Next Class also feels like less of an issue-of-the-week show than The Next Generation, with characters now gleaning important life lessons like “butts are the new boobs,” while others fret that brains might someday replace butts. (And don’t we all.)
Established Degrassi fans will appreciate the season’s gradual dramatic build-up, which reaches a satisfying — and impressively executed — boiling point, exactly the kind we’ve come to expect from the unstoppable Canadian institution.
THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE: Rather than setting out to attract new converts, Degrassi‘s third coming preaches to a devoted choir, offering polished, soapy drama — and lots of it.