The teen soap “Degrassi: Next Class” returned last week for its third season (streaming on Netflix) and according to the Hollywood Reporter ”has dared to take Syria’s refugee crisis as a dramatic setting.”
Creator and executive producer Linda Schuyler says her and her writers couldn’t ignore the seriousness of the ongoing Syria war and wanted to humanize the conflict. “We look at what’s happening in the world and our job is not to make these stories political, or about social injustice, but to explore the authentic emotions characters might be going through,” says Ms. Schuyler.
Among the third season characters is a hijabi Goldi Nahir, played by Canadian actress Soma Bhatia, and Saad Al’Maliki, described as a “brooding young man who left his childhood home in the Middle East,” played by fellow Canadian thesp Parham Rownaghi.
According to the Reporter, “The first episode opens with a big banner in front of the Degrassi high school that reads ‘welcome’ in Arabic, and a second Arabic banner in the building’s foyer that translates as ‘safe space for everyone.’ Despite that open embrace, cultures soon collide when a Muslim prayer room created for Rasha and Saad shares space with the Queer-Straight Alliance.” “We’re not trying to suggest it’s all sweetness and light. We do understand there are conflicts and difficulties,” adds the series creator.