By Henry Goldblatt
Updated August 15, 2011 at 08:12 PM EDT
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The bosses at Glee are still trying to figure out what to do with their graduating seniors. What they should do is take a cue from Degrassi — the Canadian drama now has the formula down pat. For the past few seasons it has (more or less) let its matriculating students head off to unseen colleges and replenished the high school’s halls with a crop of equally intriguing underclassmen. This year is no exception: Six characters (including fan favorite Holly J., played by Charlotte Arnold) will leave Degrassi when it ends its four-night-a-week, telenovela-esque summer run on Teen Nick early next month.

But there’s a twist! An old actress is returning — as a new character. Alex Steele (pictured above, right), 16, who previously appeared on seasons 1-5 of Degrassi as Angela Jeremiah (Craig Manning’s half-sister) will enter the titular school later this season as Tori, a character who sounds like she just walked off the set of Toddlers & Tiaras. According to the network, “Tori’s parents have indulged her every whim with a stream of dance lessons, kid modeling jobs, and beauty pageants. Having never heard ‘no’ … Tori enters grade nine believing she’s the best at everything.” Steele has another Degrassi connection: She’s the younger sister of Cassie Steele, who played Manny Santos from seasons 1-9,

Why bring back Alex as a character other than Angela? According to Degrassi creator Linda Schuyler: “We created the character Tori and put out an open casting call. Out of all the actresses that auditioned, Alex Steele was the best. We debated not casting her because she had previously played Angela Jeremiah, but decided to go with the best actress for the part.”

Are you watching Degrassi this season? (If not, you should check it out. It’s absolutely the best teen drama on TV this summer.) How do you feel when old actors return to series as new characters? Here’s one obscure example: Garret Dillahunton Deadwood. Can you think of others?

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