P.E.I.'s Jocelyn Claybourne has been a Degrassi superfan for about 15 years.
Before she stopped counting, she spent about $10,000 amassing a collection dedicated to the show, including autographed posters and scripts. She even has a brick from the school used as a set and was once an extra on the show.
Now, with her Degrassi Kid Podcast, she is hoping to break down the series for an entirely new generation ahead of the HBO reboot of the series set for 2023. The podcast launched this past weekend.
"I take ideas that I have about Degrassi, ways that it's reflected different topics over such a long history, ways that it reflects current topics," Claybourne said.
"I break those down into the history of Degrassi and how it's made an impact on youth and television, that sort of thing."
The show has had a deep effect on her own life — particularly the story arc of Fiona Coyne, played by Canadian actor Annie Clark.
"I thought I just really related to Fiona, " she said. "You know, we both tried our best not to have boyfriends. We both loved hanging out with our girlfriends more than anything. And then she came out of the closet. And that experience, for me, it was like Degrassi was no longer just telling my story. I was now seeing what the next chapter was going to be.
"I realized that everything was going to be OK," Claybourne said, adding it gave her the courage to come out herself. "Not only was I able to come out to my friends, I was able to come out to myself. And in the show the way she comes out, she says, 'I'm in love with her, and she's a girl.'"
Claybourne now has that quote tattooed on her arm. The episode of Degrassi: Next Generation was called Chasing Pavements Part Two. A version of the script signed by Clark hangs framed on Claybourne's wall at her home.
It was actually Clark who encouraged Claybourne to start the podcast with an Instagram message.
"She also followed that up with, 'I'll be a guest for you,'" said Claybourne, who doesn't know when that will happen.
She hopes her Degrassi Kid Podcast will touch on concepts from the show people are experiencing in real life and make listeners feel comfortable about what they are going through, Claybourne said.
She sees the series differently than other teen TV dramas.
"Why I fell in love with Degrassi was that they tackled taboo topics like drugs and sex and underage drinking, but other teen TV shows did it in a way that was like, 'This is really bad for you and don't do this,'" she said. "Degrassi offered you choices."
It wasn't just Degrassi: The Next Generation that tackled controversial topics. Claybourne said there is a long history, like confronting the AIDS crisis in Degrassi High in 1990.
The Degrassi Kid podcast can be found on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.