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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Grown-ish is a spin-off of Black-ish following daughter Zoey (Yara Shahidi) as a new college freshman. The maturity level is ratcheted up here; Zoey and her friends deal with sex, drugs, relationships, racism, classism, and other sensitive subjects. The drug content is particularly frank: Characters use drugs on-screen (including pot and pills like Adderall) and talk about the pleasures of drugs and drink. But consequences are also depicted honestly: hangovers, vomiting, acting silly at parties, saying foolish things to people you like, making mistakes you regret. A character smokes cigarettes; another is a drug dealer who sells all kinds of pills. Sexual content is also edgy; characters talk about sexting, "You up?" texts, prostitution, casual sex with no strings, bisexuality, getting "d," and more. Expect both same- and opposite-sex kissing and sexual situations. Strong language includes "f--k" (bleeped), "ass," "s--tty," "bitch," "dammit," and so on. But the characters treat each other and themselves with respect, and there's lots of talk about being true to yourself and being thoughtful and kind to others.
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What's the story?
GROWN-ISH is a spin-off of popular sitcom Black-ish built around Zoey, the teen daughter of Dre (Anthony Anderson) and Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), who has graduated from high school in the bosom of her loving, quirky family and headed off to a still-close-enough-for-weekends-home university. Also making the jump is Dre's eccentric co-worker Charlie (Deon Cole), who moonlights as a professor at Zoey's school. College is a strange new world for Zoey, but with her new friends, like roommate Ana (Francia Raisa), and classmates Nomi (Emily Arlook), Vivek (Jordan Buhat), and Luca (Luka Sabbat) on her side, she'll figure it out one crisis at a time.
Is it any good?
Fresh, relatable, and equally as charming as its parent show, this college-set sitcom gets just about everything right. In the first episode, Zoey meets a new cadre of pals in a midnight-to-2 a.m. digital marketing class they all wound up in because their personal foibles prevented each of them from registering for classes on time. It's a genius strategy for introducing a large, sprawling cast of diverse characters, each of whom is swiftly and sensitively drawn: the twin sisters whose athletic scholarship has given their tumbledown neighborhood hope (but who hate each other and secretly long to break free of their perfect image), the gender nonconforming classmate with an ever-present joint; the son of Indian parents who wants to succeed in a STEM career and be a smooth-with-the-ladies baller.
Each starts as a stereotype but quickly emerges as an individual with lovable and/or questionable quirks in a show that clearly has sympathy for people and the stupid and/or beautiful things they sometimes do. Vivek sells drugs and lies to his parents, Zoey lets her desire for romance overpower her good sense, Ana puts so much energy into trying to escape her strict background that she doesn't consider consequences. The main thing this show gets right: No matter where they come from or how they were raised, everybody in the "grown-ish" teen years is figuring things out, and terrified of making mistakes. The genius of Grown-ish is that it lets its characters make those mistakes, and learn from them, without treading into Very Special Episode territory. This show isn't taking on issues, it's telling stories about characters. The teens who will relate -- and the parents who will remember -- can both find something to enjoy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about spin-off TV shows like Grown-ish. Are they common? Are they popular? What examples can you name? What's the appeal of taking a familiar character and putting that character in a new setting?
What's it like to be an older teen? What are some specific challenges that those close to adulthood but not quite there yet have to face?
Is Zoey from a wealthy family or a poor one? How can you tell? How do TV shows show or tell us about a character's socioeconomic status?
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