Grown-ish, on Freeform, Thursdays at 8PM
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This is a spin-off of Black-ish. But unlike that show, which is on ABC, this is on Freeform, which I don't get. (Also, it's more of a dramedy than its parent series.) It had a backdoor pilot in the penultimate episode of season 3 of Black-ish, "Liberal Arts." That episode began with Dre dropping Zoey off at college (Cal U, a fictional school in south L.A.), for a two-day orientation. And as usual on "Black-ish," Dre begins narrating... but he's quickly cut off by Zoey, who begins narrating the episode herself. (And she'll narrate "Grown-ish," but in more of an aside style.) She soon befriends a girl named Miriam. And crushes on an activist named Aaron Jackson. And discovers that her father's coworker, Charlie Telphy, is an adjunct professor of marketing. And she meets the dean, Burt Parker (Chris Parnell), and president Schock. And... there's a problem with student housing... which somehow leads to Parker making Zoey the school's "student cultural liaison." (But that position never comes up in the series.)
When the actual series started, I managed to watch an episode or two on ABC's website, but that was it. Then around the time the second season started, I got to watch the series on Hulu. So I'll have more to say as I catch up. To begin with, the first episode introduces us to friends Zoey makes in Charlie's class. I was a bit disappointed that Miriam isn't in the series, and she's never even mentioned. Anyway, one of Zoey's new friends is Aaron. The others include twin track stars Jazlyn "Jazz" and Skylar "Sky" Forster (played by Chloe and Halle Bailey, aka R&B duo Chloe x Halle, who perform the show's theme song, Grown), and a bisexual Jewish girl named Nomi Segal, and an Indian-American drug dealer named Vivek Shah, and a totally chill guy named Luca Hall. In that episode, we learn how each of them came to enroll in Charlie's class (because they were late for registration). Zoey's reason involved going to a party with her first college friend, Ana Torres, whom she bailed on when Ana embarrassed herself by getting sick. (Again, this seems weird to me because Miriam should have been Zoey's first college friend, but whatevs.) And at the end of the premiere, Ana becomes Zoey's roommate. Zoey and Luca both take a fashion design class together. And a little way into the season, Zoey starts dating a basketball player named Cash Mooney. He eventually leaves her when he decides to go pro. And after awhile, Zoey becomes romantically interested in both Aaron and Luca, and isn't sure which one she wants to be with. At the end of the season, Cash returns and says he wants Zoey back, so now she has three guys to choose between. And I guess that's all I want to say about season one (I expect I'll reveal who she chose when I start writing about season two). But I do want to say there's more to the show than just romantic complications. It does deal with various serious issues. But mostly it's about Zoey trying to figure out what kind of person she wants to be.
First I want to mention that this season is longer than the first one (21 episodes instead of 13). And I need to reveal that at the end of season 1, Zoey chose Luca. But it was the end of the school year, so they just had like a week together before going their separate ways for the summer, and just keeping in touch online. So Zoey found things a little... confusing, I guess, when they returned to Cal U for their sophomore year. But they soon settled into some kind of normalcy in their relationship. At least for awhile. They kind of had their ups and downs, throughout the year. Also this season, Zoey, Ana, and Nomi move into an apartment together. (In season one, Zoey lived in an all-black residence hall called Hawkins, which first appeared in the backdoor pilot. Aaron also lives there, as do several other main characters.) Oh, and Dean Parker is no longer at Cal U, though his absence isn't explained. Nor is the fact that Charlie is the new dean. Aaron, who is now a junior, becomes Hawkins's RA. (He also continues to call Zoey by the nickname "Freshman," despite her now being a sophomore.) Also this season, Jazz starts dating a guy named Doug Edwards, who becomes a new member of the group of friends. And Zoey has some academic problems, which prompts her father to cut her off financially, so she has to get a job in the campus bookstore. (Her father and grandfather appear in one episode. Her brother, Junior, appears in a few episodes, and develops a romantic interest in Sky.) And we see a bit of a Gender Studies class taught by Professor Paige Hewson. After that class ends, Nomi enters into a secret relationship with Paige, which causes some problems for the rest of the season. Also, Aaron and Ana start a relationship, despite their different political opinions (Ana is a Republican). That relationship has its fair share of twists and turns. Vivek moves into Hawkins Hall, where he spends a lot of time hanging out with Aaron and Doug. Zoey tries starting her own fashion styling business. Near the end of the season, there's an incident in Hawkins that makes Aaron aware of how little help Cal U has to offer students (particularly POC) with mental health issues, so he starts a campaign called Black Minds Matter. (This is actually a thing in the real world, which existed before this show brought it up, so I'm not entirely sure whether Aaron is meant to have started his own initiative independent of that, or simply tapped into the existing movement.) Also at the end of the season, Sky sustains an injury that will keep her from running with her sister in an upcoming event. And Zoey gets a new job (working as a stylist for real-life rapper Joey Bada$$), which leads to trouble in her relationship with Luca.
Junior year, b****es! At the end of the first episode, we learn that Nomi is pregnant, having hooked up with some random guy after her breakup with Paige. (She eventually moves back home with her parents.) Zoey deals with the awkwardness of remaining friends with Luca now that their relationship is over. Meanwhile, Luca begins dating a girl named Jillian, who also becomes friends with Zoey. Sky dates a guy named Rodney, whom she mistakenly believes to be black (just light-skinned), so there's some awkwardness when she finds out he's white. Ana gets more involved in political issues, and eventually develops feelings for a guy she works with named Javier. Aaron begins to worry about his student loan debts. Zoey promises to get her father to put in a word for Aaron at Stevens & Lido, but she fails to do so because she's swamped trying to balance both her school work and her job working for Joey. This leads to stress in her friendship with Aaron, for awhile. But he does get a job working for Dean Telphy. Sky works extra hard at track after recovering from her injury last season, to prepare for Olympic trials. But she's upset that Jazz isn't keeping up with training because she's spending too much time with Doug. So by the midseason finale, Jazz decides to put her relationship on hold, to focus on training. Also, Zoey decides to quit school to focus on her job. And it seems that Nomi is about to go into labor. But that's a cliffhanger, and now we'll have to wait quite awhile for the back half of the season to air....