In Sharon Ross’ article “Defining Teen Culture: The N Network,” focuses on how the N Network manages to stand proudly behind it’s mission statement of being “the authentic voice for teens and help them figure out their lives with relevant, topical programming on-air and online at their website.” The network, and specifically the show “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” offers their teen viewers the opportunity to fully engage in the content of the show via digital and online technology. In being the “authentic” teen network, the N Network proves that they understand that teens are fully capable and are extremely interested in using media and technology in creative and communicative ways. This understanding is even shown in the opening credits of DTNG, as viewers follow a text message sent from one girl’s phone that connects all of the characters and storylines together.
Beyond understanding how their teen viewers want to engage with DTNG, the N Network make the show as relatable to teens as possible in that the content is realistic, in that the “characters stories are infused organically with their ethnic and national roots, including the tensions that can arise because of this multicultural environment” (Ross, 64). The fact that real teen actors and actresses play characters that are roughly the same age as they are in real life is an element of DTNG that cannot be ignored. We are so used to seeing idolized models and actors that are in their mid 20s playing high school students, that it become very difficult for viewers to truly relate and respond to the content within the show. I remember watching DTNG when I was in middle school (and then watching is sporadically with my younger sister while I was in high school), and I remember how refreshing it was too watch a show that didn’t seem like Hollywood had a hand in. In fact, with the use of realistic actors and realistic teen plotlines and character behavior, the show actually takes on a documentary type feel to it. Teen and eventually young adult viewers will respond more positively and more actively with this show, than other teen sitcoms like The OC, Gossip Girl, or even Veronica Mars, because they can actually identify themselves within the context of the show. The show has become so relatable that The N Networks website for DTNG has discussion boards where people can express their thoughts and opinions on various topics in the show, and take quizzes that provide an educational experience for the viewer. Ross suggests that, “the show presents a central thematic argument that a core component of being a teenager involves coming to terms with the messiness of life in an adult world” (66). Furthermore, the N Network proves itself as authentically teen, as all of the writing in the show and the various mediums for teen viewers to let their voice be heard allows for a community of teens to be created. These viewers are able to relate and communicate with characters on the show, and also vent with other confused and opinionated teens DTNG viewers.