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A Different World For a New Generation: Grown-ish Series Premiere Tonight on Freeform

Episode one of Grown-ish starts tonight at 8pm EST on Freeform with an hour-long premiere and I couldn’t be more excited about what the show will be bringing to the table! Not only is Yara Shahidi an amazingly talented actress with great hair, she has also been an outspoken activist when it comes to racism, gender inequality and a vast number of issues.

While I have enjoyed Black-ish, one of the flaws it has as a series is not spending enough time on the black female experience, so having a show that focuses on several young black women and other women of color is very exciting to me. Dear White People was definitely an amazing show with a  lot of social commentary about race on campus, but now we will have options. While Black-ish has never stayed away from tackling hard issues, it also is first and foremost a comedy, which Grown-ish will most certainly be as well—and that’s a good thing.

The black experience in college is not all filled with protests and exposing racist blackface parties, there is fun and self-exploration to be had. One of the storylines I’d love to see picked up is Zoey’s relationship with faith. In season three of Black-ish, there was an episode where Zoey was implied to be leaning towards a more agnostic/atheist view of religion, and that is exciting. There are not a lot of black atheist characters on television, or black characters that belong to non-Abrahamic faiths. She’s Gotta Have It incorporated the Yoruba religion into its show, and I thought that was just a refreshing change. As someone who was raised in a Catholic environment and became a pagan later in life, I am looking forward to seeing some more black characters break more boundaries about what they are “supposed” to be.

I also just love Zoey as a character and I am excited about all the shenanigans she will be getting into. I hope they don’t shy away from letting her go through the nitty-gritty of college life and allow it to be a learning experience for the people watching at home. People make fun of what kids absorb from television, but when I was in middle school, I thought high school was gonna be like Degrassi and college was gonna be like Boy Meets World. I’m glad Grownish exists and my post-college butt will definitely be living vicariously thought Zoey and her very well dressed group of friends.

There is also another issue which is the comparisons made between this show and A Different World, the Cosby Show spin-off that aired between 1987 and 1993 (Fun fact: Black-ish star Jenifer Lewis was also in A Different World as recurring character Dean Dorothy Dandridge Davenport). While the comparison is valid in many ways, I would just like to say that one thing that is very different is that A Different World took place in an HBC and after the first season it was no longer about the eldest Huxtable daughter Denise (played by Lisa Bonet), but about the different characters at the fictional Hillman College.

However, A Different World never shied away from dealing with important topical issues of the time from date rape, sexism, depictions of blackness in the media, domestic abuse, and even the Anita Hill trial. A Different World was also among the first to deal with destigmatizing AIDS. So holding Grown-ish to that standard isn’t just about similarities in situation, but holding itself to that content. To be fair, it also took A Different World a season to find it’s footing, but as someone who binged watched it recently to get a taste, I can say that it brought something fresh and new to the table. It’s a big shoe to fill.

Overall, what I’m most excited about is that I now have several black-lead shows to choose from, so if I don’t love one I can watch another and that is something to look forward to in 2018.

(image: Freeform)

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