TV is Boldly Tackling the Realities of College Life On At Least One Show

Yara Shahidi on set

In the 21st century, TV programs have seen an increase in cross-cultural casts and focuses on diverse stories.

Many new television shows and films reflect a globally and culturally mobile society to reflect the diversity and inclusivity that should be present in our everyday society. 

The 2018 television show “Grown-ish,” a spin-off of the 2014 television show “Black-ish,” centers on the Johnson family’s eldest daughter heading off to college to study fashion design. She also focuses on her first moments of individuality, adulthood as well as facing certain problems for the first time.  

Marcus Scribner, Black-ish
Image credit: Marcus Scribner via Twitter

Zoey’s fashion career starts back on the television show “Black-ish,” where she interns at Teen Vogue as her passion grows for this area. Throughout “Grown-ish,” she wears various custom-made outfits and designs looks for her class assignments with classmate Luca.

Zoey’s fashion looks throughout the series are a statement in the whole television show but she soon comes to realize she may not be as talented a designer as she thought in the past, and ends up dropping this class. She overcomes these hard times through the support of her Cal U peers.

Actress and activist Yara Shahidi, who plays Zoey Johnson on “Grown-ish,” was born in Minnesota from a an Iranian-American father and an African-American mother. In an interview with Chloe Malle of Town and Country Magazine, Shahidi states:

Yara Shahidi via Instagram
Image credit: Yara Shahidi via Instagram

Because of my family’s background, I understand how interconnected cultures are.

This makes her the perfect actress to represent such a role. 

Like many of the characters in this show, Zoey’s college friendship group include a diverse range of individuals who have all come from different families to attend Cal U.

Nomi Segal is one of the main characters in this show who identifies as a Jewish-American.

Zoey’s roommate Ana Torres is a child of Cuban immigrants.

Further representation in this popular show is seen through character Vivek Shah, who was born into an Indian Hindu practicing family.

TV program 'Grown-is] on Freeform
Image credit: Freeform via Instagram

The range of representation in this TV show highlights a society of global mobility as well as diversity and inclusivity that we should mirror. 

Emily Arlook states in an interview with Emily Burack from Alma:

I see myself in all of the characters. I think that’s what’s so great about the show; each character is so diverse and different from the others that it’s hard not to relate to anyone of them at any given point throughout each episode.

Emily Arlook, 2018

Furthermore, this sitcom showcases great examples of real-world issues young adults face. Vivek Shah is a character who was raised in a strict Hindu household but comes to college wanting to differentiate from the strict Hindu culture that he grew up in and decides to rebel against his cultural traditions to lead a more lavish lifestyle while selling drugs to college students.

As well as Vivek, Nomi faces the challenge of not being able to tell her family about her bisexuality as she feels it is not usually accepted in Jewish households, and for the fact that she will be “looked at differently” by her parents. 

Both their visual and hidden diversity has been able to give them a better understanding of the world around them and the way of other people’s beliefs and cultures. Additionally, their hidden diversity of differentiating from traditional norms of their cultures allows them to be more relatable to the TV audience with the issues they are facing.

“Grown-ish” is the show all viewers need to see as it is a modern show boldly tackling the realities of college life. According to Julia Mancini,

Johnson faced a series of firsts that many college students find themselves facing as well, and the series approaches them with a good mix of light-hearted humor and seriousness.

Julia Mancini, 2018

This in particular makes it the ideal TV show for diverse viewers to analyze and enjoy.


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