Issues are handled in a frank, responsible, realistic, and socially conscious manner. Common themes involve friendship, family relations, self-image, peer pressure, bullying, and making mature decisions. The characters don't always make the right choices, but their missteps have realistic consequences and, in many cases, long-term effects. Cultural, religious, and socioeconomic diversity is reflected in the cast.
The Degrassi teens are a flawed bunch, but they're also realistic and relatable, with concerns and problems (and triumphs) that real-life teens will definitely identify with. They also look more like real teens than other "teen" characters on TV. The same is true for the adult role models in the teens' lives; they're not perfect, but they face real-world challenges and make it through as best they can.
Violence isn't a normal part of the show and is never gratuitous, so it makes an impact when it happens. Domestic violence, hate crimes, date rape, school shootings -- all of these have a lasting effect on the characters involved.
Frank talk about sexuality. Several teen characters have sex, usually with consequences. A main character got pregnant and had an abortion; two more have had to deal with another unplanned pregnancy. Another character contracted an STD through oral sex, and one gay character's coming out and first boyfriend provided a major plotline. Kissing and some making out is shown.
Marginal language like "crap," "shut up," and "suck."
An after-school job at a movie theater has provided an opportunity for Coke promotion. Some episodes have featured Apple computers, MP3 players, and Triple Five Soul clothing, and others are set to music that's promoted just before commercial breaks.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Experimentation almost always has consequences. Over the course of the show, a few characters have tried drugs or overindulged in alcohol, but there's always been fallout, such as embarrassing behavior or missed opportunities because of their poor choices.