grown-ish premieres January 3rd on Freeform.
By Ariba Bhuvad
After the critically acclaimed success of its parent series, comes the black-ish spin-off, grown-ish. The spin-off series chronicles the college life of Zoey Johnson (Yara Shahidi) and her attempt to live a life outside of the crazy Johnson household, one we have all come to love. However, college isn’t everything Zoey imagined it would be, and the first three episodes illustrate just that.
As Zoey faces the usual college stresses of class schedules and a new environment, she also finds herself questioning where she stands on the social ladder. A chance encounter leads her to meeting Ana (Francia Raisa), whom Zoey manages to ditch the second she thinks Ana ranks low on the cool scale. Karma has a way of making its rounds, as later Ana becomes Zoey’s roommate, which forces Zoey to confront her petty behavior.
The series gained another black-ish alum, Charlie (Deon Cole), who teaches a (very) late night course at the college. His presence in the show is a welcome one, as his awkward, erratic behavior makes for some hilarious moments throughout the episodes. It is in this class Zoey finds a circle of friends with whom she forms a bond with, and also finds a couple of love interests. The cast of friends includes Cash (Abraham Juste), Alex (Rique), Nomi (Emily Arlook), Aaron (Trevor Jackson), and Luca (Luka Sabbat). This gang of college misfits finds common ground in the new world of college, and their banter makes for some amusing moments.
Watching Zoey’s initial struggle through college, boys, and making friends was quite hysterical and entertaining. However, grown-ish doesn’t possess the same level of comedy we are accustomed to in black-ish and at times, the comedy feels dry or too forced. However, it shows promise and doesn’t completely disappoint as a spin-off series. One of its standout qualities (that makes it unique from black-ish) is Zoey’s interaction via breaking the fourth wall. Her constant banter with us, the audience, is fun, engaging, entertaining, and made the show enjoyable to watch.
While grown-ish may not yet possess the sparkle of black-ish, it most certainly shows promise of living up to it with its cast and story.
I give grown-ish a B+.