Grown-ish Gives Us the Real on Millennial College Life

Yara Shahidi & the cast of Grown-ish
By Mwabi Kaira

Fans of the Johnson family on ABC’s hit show Black-ish now have Grown-ish to fall in love with. The oldest of the Johnson clan, Zoey played by Yara Shahidi, is off to college and a spin off is born just like Denise Huxtable of the Cosby Show. Denise went to Hillman, a fictional HBCU school in A Different World and Zoey goes the Higher Learning route (shout out to Malik, Deja and Fudge) and goes to California University of Liberal Arts where she is in the minority.

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Yara Shahidi
I was excited to watch Grown-ish. I haven’t been a college student in decades and seeing what life for college millennials was like intrigued me. My son is on his way to college so there’s that too. College for me was at Freaknik’s heyday and although racism and microaggressions were part and parcel of it, folks still hid behind their white sheets and mostly smiled in your face and hated you for your melanin otherwise. It’s a new day and if Grown-ish was going to give me an insight to this new world then I was here for it.

Grown-ish follows Zoey as she navigates her new surroundings. She quickly finds her crew; Nomi the Jewish-American bisexual, Jazlyn and Skylar the track star twins from the hood played by singers Chloe and Halle who are signed to Beyonce and also sing the show’s theme song, Aaron the woke bae, Luca the dread loc’ed free spirit, and Vivek the first generation Indian trying to be the next Drake but doubles as a drug dealer pushing pills on campus because his engineering degree will take too long to get and he needs money now. Millennials through and through.

Chloe & Halle 
Much like Black-ish, Grown-ish tackles issues head on with laughter infused here and there. The twins are carrying their race on their shoulders just like the black superstar female athletes that came before them and they don’t want to disappoint their neighborhood by being failures. Nomi can’t come out to her parents because she doesn’t want to be their bisexual Jewish daughter. Vivek has deep issues with his father that none of his friends can understand; he calls his father a bum because he has been a cab driver all these years and lacks the ambition his son feels he should have. Vivek is that immigrant who is born and grows up in America and wants everything American forgetting the sacrifices made by his parents for him to have this life.

Trevor Jackson & Yara Shahidi
Other than dealing with her father not adjusting to her being gone, Zoey has the ideal family life. It’s her time management, friendship and deciphering come-ons from woke bae skills that are lacking. Does she have to go to every social event she is ‘invited’ to and does she have to follow woke bae around like a lost puppy hoping he will declare his love for her? Can she learn to be a better friend to her roomate? And will the accessible drugs and alcohol lead to her downfall? Grown-ish will answer all these questions as the season progresses and I can’t wait to see it play out.

Grown-ish airs on Wednesday nights at 8 PM on Freeform. 

Are you watching Grown-ish?
Mwabi Kaira is an African girl navigating her way in an American world.  She is of Zambian and Malawian heritage and moved to the USA in 1993.  Writing has been her passion since she could put a sentence together on the page. Mothering her sons is her pride and joy.  She has been an avid runner since 2013 and has run 10 half marathons and a full marathon.  Keep up with her at http://africanbeautifulme.blogspot.com/

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