Wednesday, January 2, 2019

REVIEW: 'Grown-ish' - Sophomore Year Begins for Zoey and Her Friends with New Challenges in 'Better'

Freeform's Grown-ish - Episode 2.01 "Better"

Zoey and the gang return for their sophomore year and Zoey is determined to make the "sequel" better than the original. She, Ana and Nomi move into a less-than-stellar off-campus apartment and have to quickly adjust to each other as roommates. Zoey is excited to see Luca again after a summer of keeping in touch via social media.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. Premieres and finales may feature longer reviews. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of Freeform's Grown-ish.

"Better" was written by Melanie Kirschbaum & Alexandra Decas and directed by Pete Chatmon

This premiere is mostly just catching the audience up on what these characters have been over their summer break. The first season ended with Zoey having to make a huge decision in her romantic life. This season opens with a time jump. The creative team still wanted to deal with the beginning stages of her relationship with Luca though. As such, the explanation needs to be given that they actually spent the summer apart - with Luca living in Paris. Despite the distance between them, they still found ways to be romantic with each other. But they are still adjusting with how to be a couple in the same space together. As such, that mostly means Zoey is upset when her plans for her sophomore year in college don't get started the way that she would like. She walks onto campus with confidence. She has been here for a year and knows what to expect. She has learned from her mistakes and vowed to be an even better and stronger person moving forward. She won't be falling into the same patterns as before. This will be a less chaotic year for her. She believes this is her chance for the sequel to her story being even better than the original. Of course, that's not how life works. She dreams of this grand, romantic moment of reuniting with Luca. That doesn't occur. She learns that he's actually already back and is sleeping in his room. He is too tired to do anything with her. He has to get back to an American schedule. She doesn't throw a drink in his face. Though she has to temper her expectations for this new life as well. Not everything is going to go according to plan for her. She dreams of this perfect life of living in an apartment near campus with Nomi and Ana. And yet, the place is a complete disaster. The students who were living there over the summer absolutely trashed the place. That's a mess that the girls have to clean. However, they actually succeed in that endeavor by the close of this episode. In fact, it's impressive to see what this space transforms into by the conclusion of this cleanup party. That's a creative way for Zoey to fix this mess that Ana and Nomi blame her for while also welcoming in the rest of the ensemble to ensure updates are giving on their summers as well. Again, it feels like all of them return to school in the same positions. Sure, there are some changes. Charlie has replaced Burt as the dean of students. That's insane and shows how Charlie continues to fail upward. He can't do any special favors for Zoey though. That would make things too easy for her. She and her friends have to learn and grow on their own. Plus, there is still an authority figure who is completely inept in how to actually run a school. But there may not be anything malevolent in what Charlie is doing. He just doesn't know any better like Burt in the previous season. As such, the focus will remain on the college students as they attempt to grow and continue on their various journeys. Sure, it's weird how Ana talks about her problem with Nomi to Aaron instead of Nomi herself. But everything eventually all comes together in the end with the girls supporting each other and knowing that this will be a great if unexpected year that will continue to challenge them.