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“Wake Up, Ms. Johnson:” Grown-ish Review

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Black-ish quickly become one of the most talked about shows when it premiered in 2014. With its dissection of what it means to be black by posing questions about the legitimacy of someone’s blackness after they leave the “hood,” it quickly propelled it’s way on to every critics “best of’ lists. Many people likened its importance to that of The Cosby Show, as it address the lives of a middle class black family.

As if to follow in the footsteps of the sitcom classic, a spinoff called Grown-ish was ordered to series by Freeform. It is about the oldest of the Johnson children, Zoey, dealing with the triumphs and pitfalls of being a freshman in college while coming-of-age away from her family. After finally seeing the premiere, I can honestly say that it’s one of the most accurate portrayals of college. It manages to address real issues of college life without making it feel like a PSA. Issues such as drug use and the fear of what people think about you are addressed with a lot of care by the writer, Kenya Barris.

Barris bravely takes the character to the edge of college life by alluding to a possible drug problem that Zoey may be developing; telling a story that is reflective of certain realities of college life. Even with the sadness of that, Barris, manages to pull it off with a charming wit that we’ve grown accustomed to by watching Black-ish.

He also adds some fun supporting characters like VIvek and Nomi. These two provide a majority of the clever but authentic jokes but they also provide different perspectives. Nomi is a bisexual women born into a devout Jewish family. She is afraid of what her parents will think if they found out. Vivek is a child of Indian immigrants trying to become wealthy engineer but he wants instant success so he hustles and peddles drugs. These rang true to the people that one might meet in college. I’m excited to see where their story goes.
Grown-ish is fresh and fun. It speaks with a voice that feels like it’s growing with its main character. A young voice that seems to want to examine the college experience in a way that has never really been done. It’s a show that is definitely needed, right now. I wish it was on TV before I went to college.

You can catch Grown-ish on Wednesdays at 8pm Est.

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