‘Grown-ish’ Exemplifies the College Experience

By Sunah Choudhry, Assistant Feature Editor

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Yara Shahidi plays Zoey Johnson in the Black-ish spinoff “Grown-ish,” which follows her college journey.
Photo courtesy of Freeform

The clock strikes nine and a loud bang is heard as Zoey Johnson wakes up from her slumber. Not only has her roommate slammed the door, but she is now late for her first ever college class. Trying to put on some decent clothes and get out of her dorm, Zoey runs to a class that will later on change her college experience altogether.

Made by the creators of ABC’s “Black-ish,” “Grown-ish” portrays the real-life issues of different types of college students ranging from a student-athlete to an everyday student striving to get their dream job.

Just like any college student, Zoey is accompanied by a group of friends that she soon hangs out with all throughout the season. This group contains a variety of characters such as twin athletes, a bisexual, a part-time drug dealer, an artsy friend, a control freak and the one friend that believes the government is total garbage.

In many of the episodes, and like many incoming college freshmen, Zoey struggles to find her path as she starts to indulge in the college lifestyle. From staying out late, partying with friends and dealing with her crush, “Grown-ish” achieves the perspective of a college student.

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Jazz and Sky Foster, played by Chloe and Halle Bailey, wear green track suits and talk to Aaron Jackson and Zoey Johnson. Photo courtesy IMDb.com

The college athlete is one of those students that everyone sort of looks up to or is jealous of because of their wide range success. In “Grown-ish,” the writers have crafted twin track athletes, Jazz and Sky Foster, that struggle to make ends meet due to their hectic schedules.

This is a perspective of the student athlete’s life that many people forget. While college athletes may get free merchandise, they do not get paid for the countless hours spent training, preparing and playing in the games broadcasted on networks that make money off of the hard work of these students.

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Cash Mooney, played by da’Vinchi, talks to Zoey Johnson.
Photo courtesy of IMDb.com

TheGrown-ish” writers not only take the college athletes’ sides but they also go against them. Star basketball player at Johnson’s University Cash Mooney portrays the typical athlete that gets away with everything as long as he performs well on the field. In Mooney’s case, he is the life blood of the team and as long as he plays well, the university is bound to win. Mooney was not doing well academically so the university had placed another student to take his exams. “Grown-ish” really succeeds in showing both the struggling athlete as well as the over privileged athlete.

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Nomi Segal, played by Emily Arlook, talks to Zoey Johnson as Vivek Shah sits in the back.
Photo courtesy of IMDb.com

In addition, the audience has the bisexual character Nomi Segal, played by Emily Arlook, to look forward to. Not many shows on prime time or on regular cable provide a diverse cast or have a character that is a part of the LGBTQ community. “Grown-ish” breaks the stereotypical college show that has all heterosexual characters as their lead cast.

As “Grown-ish” continues to break television norms, the writers introduce Vivek Shah played by Jordan Buhat. Shah is Indian and sells drugs as his side hustle while his parents think of him as the golden child. Shah is a wonderful new addition that creates a more diverse cast. In many other shows, you do not see someone of Indian descent.

The one thing they have not included in the show is commuters in the progressing series. All of the students are shown to be ones that dorm on campus. For the show to portray a real-life college group of friends, there needs to be some sort of equality to the types of students that are on the show.

Not only is this show for college students, but it can be shown to others who have recently graduated who can think back to old memories or even high school students eagerly awaiting to start a new chapter of their lives. Either way, “Grown-ish” has proven itself to be a show that talks about real issues without sugarcoating the details.

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