Title:Whatever It Takes: Raptors 905 showcasing Toronto connection with Degrassi Game
Date: February 21, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about Raptors 905 hosting a Degrassi Game, the show’s connection to basketball, and why it’s a celebration of the city of Toronto.
The game is on the line and Jimmy Brooks is calling for a pass. When it doesn’t come, Brooks runs over, clobbers teammate Sean Cameron, taking the ball and injuring him in the process. Brooks sinks the game-winner as the buzzer sounds but doesn’t realize until later that in winning the game in such a fashion he’s lost so much more. Whatever It Takes, it turns out, has its limitations as a school-defining mantra.
When Degrassi re-launched as Degrassi: The Next Generation in 2001, this episode was one of its early successes. In bringing back the hit 1980s series, Degrassi quickly established that it would not shy away from a modernized take on relatable and oft-underrepresented, if over-dramatic, Canadian teen experiences. It’s that pattern that has led the Degrassi brand to churn out over 600 episodes as Canada’s longest-running drama over the last 40 years, earning it 25 Gemini Awards, 16 Canadian Screen Awards and a Peabody Award, among other honours and nominations (co-creator Linda Schuyler has also been named to the Order of Canada and Order of Ontario, no big deal). While the show has the fun and dramatic elements of any good pre-teen or teen drama, perhaps with campier presentation, it’s the timely and relevant cultural elements that has helped several versions of the show span decades.
In The Basketball Diaries episode, Brooks deals with duelling pressure between athletics and academics, a difficult rivalry with Cameron that was originally rooted in good intentions and his first experience with prescription medication. To fight through all of these challenges, Brooks borrows a Ritalin from friend Spinner Mason, resulting in him losing control and, ultimately, his spot on the basketball team. The relatability index for teenagers being spread too thin at times of stress is through the roof.