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Grown-ish - Advance Preview - Watch Out, World, I'm Grown Now

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"Crazy, right?"

First things first, you do not need to have watched Black-ish to enjoy Grown-ish, it stands alone perfectly, and hopefully, they'll keep it that way. The freshman does share some traits with the mother show, but in all things, it shoots to be just as daring, only in a different way (as a college show should be). Zoe narrates, just like Dre, but she also looks to the camera (ala Frank Underwood), and I have to say it surprised me with the subjects it's willing to take on, not necessarily in a political way (though I'm sure we'll see a lot of that), but in Zoey's exploration of college and what life away from her parents can bring, which seems tricky for a network like Freeform, but I guess time will tell if they're up to the challenge, for now, I'm leaning towards yes.

Grown-ish starts strong even if it's a little rushed at first. If you've watched the backdoor pilot, the timing is a little messed up, so I recommend you ignore it and watch the first episodes of Grown-ish as your first introduction to the show. There is no mention of Zoey being Student Cultural Liasion and there's also no sign of Veep's Matt Walsh as the president of Cal U (President Schock), or Mallory Sparks' Miriam, which is a pity.

Now, to the people that are actually a part of the cast. Yara Shahidi as Zoey Johnson, of course, is just as chill as ever, she's a bit boy-crazy, which I get a little, but I think the way they show it doesn't fully fit her character, so I hope they find a balance there, because it all happens way too fast to be sustainable. I also have to say she was a bit disappointing to me when she had a chance to connect emotionally, but she's as great as always the rest of the time so hopefully, she'll have time to explore her character better now that she's front and center.

We don't see a lot of Dre (her father to those who haven't seen Black-ish), and I think it's for the best, when he does appear he's quite annoying, which makes sense from the point of view of his teenage daughter, but doesn't make him much fun to keep around. Professor Charles Telphy (Deon Cole), on the other hand, is the other familiar face and he's the funniest thing in the whole show, he teaches a midnight class Zoey and a lot of other "weirdos" take, and he's hilarious, I just hope they find a way to keep him around after the first semester is over, he just shines a lot better here than he ever could on Black-ish.

And this is where Zoey meets the people she'll soon call family (as per her own narration). There's a fun way of introducing the characters (though the stylistic way in which flashbacks are shown doesn't fully click): Aaron (Trevor Jackson), according to Zoey, he somehow makes a ducktail work, I strongly disagree, it only works when you can't see it, Vivek (Jordan Buhat) is of Indian descent, perfect in every way, and also a drug dealer, Luca (Luka Sabbat) is the artsy stoner, Nomi (Emily Arlook) is Jewish, bisexual and a rebel, the twins Jazlyn and Skyler are played by Chloe and Halle Bailey, (they are an R&B duo signed by Beyoncé), and last but not least Analisa (Francia Raisa), or Ana, is a sweet Catholic girl with whom things start a little rocky, now I don't know about you but to me it's a bit weird seeing Adrian from The Secret Life of the American Teenager still playing such a young character when she's almost thirty, but I like her, so I'll try to see past that. Also, Chris Parnell play's Bert Parker, Nomi's uncle and the Dean of Cal U.

Grown-ish is not laugh-out-loud funny for me (except when Deon Cole is involved), but to tell you the truth, Black-ish isn't laugh-out-loud funny for me either, which is not a bad thing, I would even go as far as saying I enjoyed Grown-ish more than the mother show, mainly because I just relate more to young people at this point in my life. Of course, it's yet left to be seen if Grown-ish can deliver on the big issues as well, and it will certainly be a challenge for the writers to do something new after four seasons of Black-ish, but this is a different take, it's more about young people trying to find their way, and I think they've proven their competence time and time again, so I for one, think this show has everything to endure.

Catch the double premiere of Grown-ish on January 3rd at 8:00 p.m. EST. Are you excited about this? Let me know in the comments.

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