One of the most anticipated television programs of 2018 is “Grown-ish,” which premiered the first two episodes on FreeForm last Wednesday. “Grown-ish” is a spin-off of ABC’s hit comedy series, “Black-ish,” which is about a black family living in the suburbs of Los Angeles. In “Grown-ish,” the family’s oldest daughter, Zoey (Yara Shahidi) begins college at the fictional Cal U. During her first few weeks as a college student, she quickly learns that everyone she encounters is struggling to find their place in the world.
In the series premiere, “Late Registration,” we see Zoey enter her midnight Digital Marketing Strategies course. In her course, she meets a variety of students with misfit-like qualities, a la Breakfast Club. Through each of these characters, important topics are touched on. Below are a few of the highlights from “Grown-ish’s” premiere.
SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT CONTINUE READING IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED GROWN-ISH
Nomi identifies as bisexual – While most television programs will carry a queer character’s coming out storyline throughout the entire course of a season, “Grown-ish’s” Nomi (Emily Arlook) is no-nonsense from the jump. In a scene where Zoey and her classmates are explaining how they ended up in a midnight class, Nomi explains that she missed the registration deadline because she was hooking up with a girl at the time. Although Nomi’s flashback scene implied that she may be a lesbian, she later explains that she is bisexual, noting that she fears the judgment of her parents. She mentions that she wants to “be their daughter, not their bisexual daughter.” Admittedly, I’m at a similar point in my life, so I was thrilled to see this kind of representation on television.
Ana comes from a Republican family – One of the first friends Zoey makes is Ana (Francia Raisa), a Cuban-American girl who was born to immigrant parents. Zoey describes Ana as a “devout Catholic and an even more devout Republican, with a secret shame.” As a Hispanic man, I can vouch for the fact that the Hispanic-Republican intersection is strange yet common in the Latinx community. Although the premiere didn’t touch a lot on Ana’s Republican upbringing, I’m interested to see how it plays out throughout the series, as she and Zoey become closer.
The group calls out Vivek’s internalized hate towards his father – Vivek (Jordan Buhat) comes from an Indian family that practices strict Hinduism. He calls his father a “bum,” as he has been a cab driver for 35 years. When he describes his father as having “no ambition,” the rest of the group quickly schools him on how immigrating to the U.S., learning a new language, and sending a child to college requires ambition, dedication, and hard work.
Sky and Jazz feel pressure to positively represent their community. – Sky and Jazz (Chloe Bailey and Halle Bailey) are Cal U’s top track recruits. Having come from an inner-city community, the two feel pressure to be positive representatives for said community. When people of color are put in positions of power, the expectations are higher for them than they are for their white counterparts. Because of the pressures they face, they put on a fake front to make it appear as if they are the best of friends, but in reality, they have their arguments and disagreements as most siblings do. They fear losing their scholarships and being sent back home, therefore, they put on their best facade for the public eye.
Zoey develops a dependence on Adderall – In Grown-ish’s second episode, “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe,” Vivek gives Zoey a small bag of Adderall tablets. After using it to attempt to finish her 25-page essay on Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she quickly goes into an “Addy spiral” and winds up charging $3000 worth of clothes to her credit card. After that, she says she’s never doing it again, but later pops another tablet when she receives a “you up?” text from her bae-who’s-not-really-her-bae, Aaron (Trevor Jackson). The episode ends on a cliffhanger, with Zoey typing a response to the text. Some viewers were upset at the fact that Zoey began abusing Adderall this early on in the series, however, I think the timeframe is accurate compared to that of most college students. From a personal experience, the first time I had ever gotten blackout drunk was within my first two weeks of freshman year, therefore, this plot is somewhat relatable.
Catch Grown-ish on FreeForm every Wednesday at 8:00 P.M. / 7:00 P.M. CST