When “Black-ish” made its debut on ABC, no one could have predicted the number of awards and critical acclaim that would soon follow. Today, the sitcom about African American family, the Johnsons, is a smash hit and well on its way to a fourth season. Now, however, the limelight is shifting onto the family’s eldest daughter, Zoey (portrayed by Yara Shahidi) in the series’ new spin-off, “Grown-ish.” The spin-off premiered on January 3, 2018, on freeform, and with its clever-ish, thought-provoking, and endearing characters, the comedy’s future is looking bright.

About the show

Grown-ish” follows Zoey’s funny but tumultuous journey as she enters her first year of college at Southern California University. Like many wide-eyed freshmen, Zoey looks at her newfound independence and freedom with joy. However, she soon learns that acting grown and becoming a grown-up are two very different things.

A smart approach to some tough lessons

The two-episode premiere of “Grown-ish” opens with the catchy theme song, “Grown” by sister duo, Chloe x Halle. Immediately, Zoey admits via voice-over narration that she feels like the clichéd clueless first-year archetype.

However, what’s refreshing about “Grown-ish” is the dynamic set of characters that enter the scene alongside Zoey, including Gujarati, Drake fanboy Vivek Shah (portrayed by Jordan Buhat), street-wise track stars Sky and Jazz Forster (portrayed by real-life sisters Chloe and Halle Bailey), Zoey’s crush Aaron (portrayed by Trevor Parker), and the laidback Luca Hall (portrayed by Luka Sabbat).

Together, this unlikely squad mirrors “The Breakfast Club.”

When they are forced to explain their enrollment in a less than legitimate night class, it becomes evident that despite their unequivocal differences, each character faces the same fears and insecurities of being on their own for the first time. Amidst this dilemma, Zoey fails her first trial of adulting when she abandons her new friend, Ana (portrayed by Francia Raisa) puking at a party.

The episode is wrought with accurate portrayals of college party culture, and Shahidi’s performance is both comedic and grounded. The supporting characters are culturally, ethnically, and religiously diverse, but it is there personal quirks that really stand out.

Tough-ish decisions

A wild party opens the second premiere episode and addresses Zoey’s struggles with fitting in, romance, and drugs.

Initially reluctant, Zoey begins taking Adderall to cope with school and socializing. Unfortunately, the episode is accurately reflective of the dangers of the college drug scene. Yet again, the script and acting are spot-on and do an incredible job in realistically portraying how slippery the slope can be when it comes to substance abuse in the high-pressure environment of a university.

Overall, “Grown-ish” manages to address the hard and controversial topics of college, social, and academic life while also seamlessly interweaving great comedy in-between.