Grown-ish 2024 series review

Revisit the inaugural season of Black-ish, and you’ll find Kenya Barris’ ABC comedy took a few episodes to truly capture the essence of its characters and narrative structure. Nonetheless, it entered the scene as a remarkably confident sitcom right from the start, particularly in terms of its voice and framework. This swift establishment of identity is a rarity in television.

On the other hand, Freeform’s Grown-ish represents a more typical scenario. After previewing three episodes provided to critics, I can sense the potential for Grown-ish to develop into a commendable show, or at least recognize its promise. However, as its title implies about its college-aged characters, the series hasn’t fully matured yet, still finding its footing.

Loosely derived from the Black-ish episode “Liberal Arts,” the series’ inception stems from last spring. This episode, perhaps one of Black-ish’s weaker installments, served as the catalyst. Following that, one of the primary characters of Grown-ish was introduced in a fall episode of Black-ish, which proved more bewildering than enticing. Finally, the series debuts on Freeform with an exposition-heavy premiere, focusing on re-establishing the premise and introducing characters, with scarce comedic moments.

Zoey (Yara Shahidi), the eldest child of Dre (Anthony Anderson) and Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross), commences her college journey at the California University of Liberal Arts. Though the reasons behind her enrollment are briefly hinted at, they’re best left unquestioned. Zoey finds herself reluctantly attending a midnight Digital Marketing Strategies class taught by Dre’s eccentric colleague, Charlie (Deon Cole), who lacks any teaching credentials. The class features a motley crew including sexually fluid Nomi (Emily Arlook), aspiring rapper Vivek (Jordan Buhat), twin track stars Skyler and Jazlyn (Chloe and Halle Bailey), artsy pothead Luca (Luka Sabbat), and campus activist Aaron (Trevor Jackson). The pilot recounts how these diverse individuals ended up in the same class, illustrating how unlikely groups can form pseudo-families—a departure from the dynamics of the Black-ish family.

However, despite the simplicity of Grown-ish’s premise, the fundamental issue lies in Zoey’s character development.

It makes sense to center a spinoff around Shahidi, given her vibrant on-screen presence and demonstrated intelligence in various projects. Logistically, spinning off from Black-ish with Zoey is reasonable. However, building a series around Zoey proves challenging. Among the Johnson family members, Zoey remained the least defined after multiple seasons of Black-ish. While Shahidi’s performance prevents Zoey from feeling entirely empty, she still lacks clarity as a central character, often serving as the straight woman in search of comedic relevance.

Grown-ish struggles to fully utilize Cole’s Charlie, a beloved character from Black-ish. On the parent show, Charlie served as comedic relief, but his presence in Grown-ish feels forced and lacks the same impact. Additionally, Chris Parnell’s character feels underused, contributing little to the overall narrative.

It’s in the third episode that Grown-ish begins to find its rhythm, exploring themes relevant to its college demographic while establishing its own identity distinct from Black-ish. This episode delves into relationship dynamics in the digital age, offering a glimpse of the show’s potential to navigate contemporary issues while maintaining its comedic edge.

In essence, Grown-ish is a work in progress, much like its protagonist. It’s still finding its voice and direction, but there’s potential for growth and distinction as it continues to evolve.


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By acinetv