Finally. Grown-ish is here. The black-ish spinoff stars the eldest Johnson child, Zoey (Yara Shahidi) on her adventures as a first year student at her university. But just like Zoey is blossoming into an independent person separate from her family as a fresh-faced college student, grown-ish is also standing on its own as a series. It airs on a different network, and has a completely different premise than black-ish. As such, I am going to give grown-ish the respect it deserves and treat recap as if it’s brand, spanking new. So let’s jump right in.
It’s only the first week of classes for Zoey, and she’s having an experience that many first years have probably had. Her father Andre (Anthony Anderson) is having an emotional breakdown trying to adjust to his daughter being away from home. She breaks the news that she isn’t coming home for weekend, which prompts more hysterical tears from Dre over the phone. She’s left with one option, to hang up on him.
Anyway, Zoey’s classic introduction to college life also includes a generic knowledge of the campus history and layout of California University. She narrates it all. Zoey knows which spots are hot, and which aren’t. She knows where she won’t get any cell service, and she knows how dope the basketball team is. She’s even hip to the racist practices of the school’s founders. It’s exactly the wealth of information that’s passed around during orientation. Like I said, it’s all classic college stuff.
But what’s abnormal for Zoey is the fact that she’s taking a class that meets from midnight until 2 a.m. and is taught by Dr. Charles Tuffy (Deon Cole). Zoey knows Professor Tuffy as Charlie, one of her dad’s super weird and shady coworkers. The course is about drones exclusively, and Professor Tuffy is also using it as an opportunity to sell some puppies. Some of the other students include sex workers and drug addicts, who work better on a nightly schedule. It’s a strange situation, but there is a significant silver lining.
Dr. Tuffy’s class unites Zoey with the odd group of students that make her crew. Nomi (Emily Arlook) is Jewish and feminist AF. She ended up in Dr. Tuffy’s class after missing the registration deadline because she was hooking up with a girl in the bathroom. Her uncle, Bert Parker (Chris Parnell), is also a dean at Cal U and has no clue about his niece’s sexual fluidity. As a result, he insists on her finding love with a nice Jewish boy, despite having eight failed marriages himself.
Jazlyn (Chloe Bailey) and Skylar (Halle Bailey) are newly recruited twin track stars. Performing athleticism, sportsmanship, refinement, and sisterly love has been the key to their success. However, they grew up in the hood and feel extreme amounts of pressure to make it in life. And when faculty and staff aren’t around, they don’t get along so seamlessly. They were in a heated argument that landed them in Dr. Tuffy’s marketing class as a last resort.
Aaron (Trevor Jackson) is the only person that Zoey knew before class. She met the enthusiastic activist during orientation. He is also the only one who chose to take the course willfully because he wanted to prioritize courses with Black professors. He also wears about 20 pins that advocate for Black lives in some form or the other.
Luca (Luka Sabbat) is the carefree artist who is going to grow up to become the exact type of man I’m attracted to. Vevek (Jordan Buhat) is an Indian American student whose parents expect him become an engineer. But he actually looks up to Drake and sells drugs on campus to finance his flashy wardrobe. He thinks his illicit business acumen makes him better than his own father, a devoted husband and cab driver who is putting him through school. Trying to close a deal to some frat dudes caused him to be another casualty of closed registration and a default student in Dr. Tuffy’s course.
As for Zoey, she’s forced to learn about drones and Dr. Tuffy’s puppies because she made a shitty decision. Flashback to the day before registration: Zoey met her first friend Analisa Torres (Francia Raisa) at a school dining hall. Ana is a Catholic and Republican with a secret crush on Barack Obama, but the two hit it off right away. They even went to their first college day party together, and that’s where things went south. After turning up a little too hard, a very drunk Ana barfed all over herself in front of everyone. While onlookers laughed, a group of older girls from Zoey’s high school suggested that they abandon Ana, and Zoey agreed. The next day, while standing in the registration line, Zoey spotted Ana walking towards her and ran away in shame.
Recounting this story to her new classmates does not warrant the understanding or sympathy she expects. Instead, the six of them call Zoey out for letting the opinion of others cause her to betray a friend. But she isn’t the only one among them dealing with shame and stigma. Nomi’s closeted bisexuality, the twins’ unbearable pressure, and Vivek’s strained relationship with his dad help her realize that she’s not alone. But the weight of how she treated Ana brings her to tears as she grapples with whether or not she’s ready to navigate hard situations.
Luckily, she’ll soon have an opportunity to make things right. The next day, she’s returning to her dorm to find her roommate in the process of moving out. She lucked upon a single room in another hall, but someone else has already been assigned to Zoey’s room. You guessed it, it’s Ana.
We don’t have to wait to see how this plays out since episode 2 is also premiering tonight! Stay tuned.