The highly anticipated ABC show “Grown-ish,” starring Yara Shahidi premiered Jan. 3. Shortly after the show debuted, it became Freeform’s biggest comedy series launch since 2012, raking in 1.56M views according to a post on Freeform’s Facebook page. It also was the best debut overall in two years, and the No. 1 scripted series on cable TV among women 18-49 and females 12-34.
It’s no secret that millennials are steadily dominating society. The diversity and relatability of this show to the new wave of teens and young adults, especially young women, definitely opened doors to higher ratings.
Although the Black-ish spin-off, created by executive producer Kenya Barris, has strong similarities to “A Different World” – a spin-off sitcom from The Cosby show where the oldest of the Huxtables, ventures off to college– it definitely has more to offer than a familiar reference.
Yara Shahidi continues the role as Zoey Johnson, the eldest child of the Johnson family in “Black-ish,” and the show captures friendships, breakups, failures and growth of her journey as she ventures off to California University.
There are a few scenes in the show that Barris executed as she hit the thoughts of millennials spot-on. The opening of the first scene in Episode 1: Late Registration, shows viewers a key aspect of millennial philosophy – “being woke.” As Zoey validates her preparedness for college after her father questions her mentality and responsibility, she reflects on her high school’s history, acknowledging that her college’s founder was a man who “dabbled into slavery.” She also showed a clip of their all-white 1958 basketball team, and then fast-forwarded to the 2018 “Cal-U” team, with an African-American player scoring.
The show also touches on diversity, with the main characters being of different races and sexual orientations. TCC student Daijah Williams, 20, said that one aspect of the show she enjoyed was how the show exposed college experiences and expectations from students coming from different backgrounds. “I’m glad that a lot of shows like Grown-ish, are finally starting to add diversity into their casts. And not only through race, but sexuality also because I think that helps viewers learn more about people’s lifestyles and everyday struggles.”
Another theme that is recurrent throughout the early episodes of the show is the powerful impact of technology on millennials. One notable “tech” scene is when Professor Charles Telphy is introduced on the show. Zoey notes that he uses “drones” to teach his lectures. This may be a bit extreme, but it gets the point across. It’s obvious that since millennials basically eat, sleep and breathe technology, many schools and teachers have implemented high-tech learning methods into their lesson plans.
Lastly, a huge concept of the show that audiences 18 years and older can relate to is adulting. Entering college from high school is a huge transition, especially in terms of having more freedom. “I think that the episodes that I’ve watched so far are relatable because I remember my experiences from freshman year dealing with new responsibilities, maturity, and learning how to be more independent,” Shania Rowley, third year business administration student, said.
As this 13-episode show enters its fifth episode, viewers are on the lookout for what happens next.