Moving from high school to college can be hard as new large-scale responsibilities develop from newfound freedom and individuality. Freeform’s new series “Grown-ish,” the spinoff series to ABC’s “Black-ish,” follows Zoey Johnson, played by Yara Shahidi, as she begins to navigate life on her own as a college freshmen and provides high school and college age kids with their own survival guide to the ups and down of college.
The series’ pilot episode brings to life the struggles of almost every college freshmen in the first few minutes. The show details Zoey’s difficulties as she navigates the first week of college, including issues with registration, her first college party and struggling to find her place at her new school.
The episode opens with Zoey struggling to find the perfect outfit to wear to her first midnight class that no one wants to be in because they all had trouble during registration – a constant struggle in any college kid’s life.
As the episode progresses, Zoey meets some of her best friends in this class, and they all explain how they ended up there. Aaron, a love interest and activist, explains that he took the course because he tries to take every course taught by an African-American professor; while Vivek, a Drake-idolising, paraphernalia-selling Indian-American whose parents pressure him towards engineering, took the class because his side business conflicted with the times and he missed the deadline.
Other character’s stories carry similar themes, as one talks about their sexuality, while others reveal the restrictions being student athletes entail.
Zoey reveals her reason for taking the class is due to her first college party she and her first college friend Ana attend. Francia Raisa, known for her roles in “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” and “Bring it On: All or Nothing,” plays Ana.
Ana, consuming too much alcohol, embarrasses herself in front of the entire party when Zoey leaves her behind to avoid association. As Zoey is waiting in the registration line the next day, she sees Ana and hides from her out of guilt.
Zoe’s desire to fit in and seem cool in front of her peers are constant difficulties that students experience throughout their time in college.
Alcohol and learning the limits have always been a relevant topic in college. Ana later reveals this was her first time drinking alcohol and that’s why she drank too much, which is something that a lot of college freshmen experience throughout their first year.
As the season progresses, Zoey finds herself grappling with college life and all it has to offer, including difficulties balancing school and a social life which result in her trying drugs her friends deem not a big deal. Zoey also deals with boy drama as Aaron gives her the classic college hookup culture “You up?” text.
Her friendships begin to develop as she patches things up with Ana and her friends try to help her decipher the text from Aaron. “Grown-ish” is also relevant to the times, as it shows Zoey and her friends holding protests on their campus.
While some students may have different experiences and despite some moments of exaggeration, the writers of “Grown-ish” have captured the essence of life as a college freshmen. “Grown-ish” is an easy and fun watch with episodes all around the 20-minute mark, giving anyone the ability to binge watch the entire first season.