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'grown-ish,' the 'black-ish' Spinoff, Debuts
January 3, 2018  | By David Hinckley  | 1 comment
 

Yara Shahidi (top) does a nice pivot as she hops into her very own grown-ish, a spinoff from the hit black-ish.

grown-ish premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Freeform, whose young adult-centric format makes it a perfect landing spot for the young adult spinoff from the mothership on Freeform’s sister network ABC.

In a move vaguely reminiscent of a similar spinoff from the old Cosby show, Shahidi’s Zoey has moved out and started college, opening up a whole new world of friends and dramas.

Zoey is still linked to her family, and her father Dre (Anthony Anderson) contributes a funny, over-the-top bit to Wednesday’s opening scene. Seems he really doesn’t want his daughter to be off at California University because, well, because he’s not ready to let go.

Zoey, who has never lacked for self-confidence, figures she’ll conquer college the same way she conquered high school. You know, just by being prettier, smarter and more stylish than anyone else. What’s the problem?

The problem is that she has slightly overestimated her skillset, or rather, how far her skillset is advanced.

grown-ish starts Zoey off with a very bad decision that cleverly and quickly introduces her, and us, to her new school family.

The bad decision involves her first college friend, Ana Torres (Francia Raisa). When Ana has an embarrassing moment at a welcome party, Zoey abandons her, deciding it wouldn’t help her brand to be associated with someone who has been even briefly humiliated.

Cut to Zoey up in a midnight class taught by Professor Telphy (Deon Cole, who will be familiar from black-ish). When he asks everyone in the class to explain why they signed up, it triggers an unexpected round of midnight confessions.

Twins Skyler and Jazlyn (Chloe and Halle Bailey, left), who are so accomplished as athletes they were on the front of a Wheaties box, have a secret about their real relationship. Aaron (Trevor Jackson) is an activist with a peanut allergy. Vivek (Jordan Buhat) is a seemingly perfect Indian immigrant whose avocation isn’t what his parents think. Nomi (Emily Arlook) isn’t cruising for the kind of relationship that her uncle Dean Parker (Chris Parnell) wants her to have. Did we mention that “dean” means he’s the dean of students?

Caught in an avalanche of wrenching confessions, Zoey reveals what she did to Ana and learns it was way worse than anything anyone else did. By the unwritten student code, it was the rough equivalent of “East Africa dictator genocide.”

For a girl who blithely assumed she was going to conquer Cal U by the end of week one, this isn’t an ideal launch.

If the premise of tossing a bunch of wildly diverse neurotic students together in one classroom sounds vaguely familiar, Zoey and grown-ish are upfront about having lifted it from the 1980s John Hughes film The Breakfast Club.

That’s s smart reference point. The film is old enough so most of the Freefrom audience wasn’t born when it came out, yet it still bounces around enough in popular culture that viewers will generally get the idea.

It also establishes Zoey’s new family before we’ve reached the end of the first episode, and it reassures us that grown-ish, like its parent, will plunge deeply into both comedy and the sometimes more somber dramas and melodramas of real life.

This can be tough to pull off, but black-ish has done it and grown-ish shows encouraging early signs. On opening night Freeform will show the first two of the show’s 13 episodes, and after you watch one, you’ll very likely want to stick around.

 
 
 
 
 
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1 Comments
 
 
Mac
ABC would be wise to repeat grown-ish episodes this Summer on the real network so the grown-ish-ups can watch too. Little on Freeform to keep someone not a 14 year old female to watch. Tues.,1/2,Daily Show interview with Trevor Noah was a fine moment for Ms. Shahidi,loaded with poise,grace,beauty and smarts. In real life,she has been accepted at Harvard with a recommendation from Michelle Obama,not Melania Trump. Ms. Trump's recommendation would probably get you a free bottle o Trump Tap Water,as long as the cap was already opened. Already young for college, Yara has put Harvard on hold. And th masses are thankful that the title,Zoey 101,was already taken by that super-literate(Oxford?),Jamie Lynn Spears,Britney Spears'(Rhodes scholar?) 'lil sis.
Jan 3, 2018   |  Reply
 
 
 
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