Grown-ish First Look Review


Chad White

“Late Registration” and “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”
Season 1, Episodes 1 and 2

This is a First Look Review of Freeform’s Grown-ish starring Yara Shahidi, Deon Cole, Chris Parnell, Trevor Jackson, Emily Arlook, Francia Raisa, Jordan Buhat, Chloe Bailey, Halle Bailey, and Luka Sabbat.

I came, I saw, I mastered this bitch.

Earlier this week, in the LA to Vegas First Look Review, I claimed that pilots are tough to make. They have to do so much in a matter of 22 minutes including introducing a majority of the characters, a thesis for the series, potential story threads and more. But, man, did Grown-ish exceed high expectations. That’s not to say there were any doubts about the spin off from Kenya Barris’s ultra-popular original Black-ish (which is fairing surprisingly fine without Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi). Freeform’s latest offering is by large their finest series to date.

Shahidi reprises her role as Zoe Johnson, the caste system regarding and stylish daughter of Andre and Rainbow. From minute one, Zoe thinks she has college figured out. She believes it comparable to high school, “cool” rankings and all. But she quickly finds the two to be separate worlds. As soon as the second episode she’s introduced to the tunneling world of drugs and alcohol in order to find her coping mechanism. Moments with her discovering these things feel unique and fit for the younger skewing audience of Freeform. They even flow well for those of us who are long past college. Feelings of anxiousness are sure to be felt as Zoe tries to fit in a social life alongside her academic one.

Joining Shahidi on this exposition of growing up include Trevor Jackson, Emily Arlook, Francia Raisa, Jordan Buhat, Chloe Bailey, Halle Bailey, and Luka Sabbat. Each one of these actors brings something to the table with their characters in terms of friendship or being a form of exemplary college aged person. Sabbat’s Luca Hall is a rebellious druggie with an eye for fashion. Arlook’s Nomi Segal is the resident closeted lesbian who’s afraid to come out to her parents but will buck at anyone trying her. The list goes on. Deon Cole and Chris Parnell reprise their roles from the series proper and the backdoor pilot respectively (Cole’s role in particular is playing off a joke from the pilot where he said he was a professor that taught a midnight class). It’s always good to see either of these men working, Cole especially. He’s the bridge between Black-ish and Grown-ish that needs to stay.

What “Late Registration” and “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” offer in abundance as Grow-ish’s premiere episodes are an establishment in unparalleled rarity. It can do so much more on cable than what the original is able to do on broadcast. For one, words like “shit” can be uttered without pesky bleeps and mouth blurs. The cast can speak to each other in a much looser sense too. Plus, Anthony Anderson and Laurence Fishburne are attached as executive producers so, even with deviances from the first show’s world, everything can still stay in a tight knit group.

Should you watch Grown-ish?

Who knew a modern day spin off could be so good? Grown-ish is thoughtful and fun on top of being funny. Shahidi and the rest of the cast are going to do well. This is a show no fan should miss.