Degrassi, previously Degrassi: The Next Generation, is a Canadian teen drama television series set in the Degrassi universe, which was created by Linda Schuyler and Kit Hood in 1979. Degrassi is the fourth fictional series in the Degrassi franchise, following The Kids of Degrassi Street, Degrassi Junior High, and Degrassi High. Like its predecessors, Degrassi follows an ensemble cast of students at Degrassi Community School who face various challenges, such as poor self-image, peer pressure, child abuse, sexual identity, gang violence, self-injury, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, death, and a number of other issues. The series was created by Linda Schuyler and Yan Moore, and is produced by Epitome Pictures in association with CTV. The current executive producers are Schuyler, her husband Stephen Stohn and Brendon Yorke. The series is filmed at Epitome's studios in Toronto, Ontario, rather than on the real De Grassi Street from which the franchise takes its name. A critical success, Degrassi has often received favourable reviews from Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, and AfterElton.com. In its initial years, it was frequently the most watched domestic drama series in Canada, and one of the highest-rated shows on TeenNick in the United States. In 2004, for example, one episode received just under a million viewers in Canada, and over half a million viewers in the US. The series has won numerous awards, from the Geminis, Writers Guild of Canada and Directors Guild of Canada, and internationally from the Teen Choice Awards, Young Artist Awards, and Prix Jeunesse. Filmmakers/actors Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes are fans of the show, and have guest starred in seven episodes.