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Freeform’s Black-ish spinoff just might have surpassed its parent.

Yara Shahidi stars in the Black-ish spinoff, Grown-ish Freeform
Emily St. James was a senior correspondent for Vox, covering American identities. Before she joined Vox in 2014, she was the first TV editor of the A.V. Club.

It’s hard to make a TV show about college. Where certain adolescent experiences of adolescence — that first heartbreak, that teacher you hated, that class that put you to sleep — carry universal truths, everybody’s college experience is wildly different, because college is a place where you start putting together who you are. Hence the lousy track record of high school shows sending their characters to college, then beating a hasty retreat.

Freeform’s Grown-ish, a spinoff of the very good ABC family comedy Black-ish (now in its fifth season and showing its age), takes a page from two other successful college-set sitcoms — the ‘80s and ‘90s hit A Different World and Netflix’s currently running Dear White People — to depict college less as an educational crucible and more as a time when young people working toward a better, more diverse future confront all of the issues standing in the way of such a future. And in Yara Shahidi as Zoey (the oldest Johnson daughter on Black-ish), the series — just beginning its second season — has a crackling comedic star at its center.

“Whether you’re studying at college, about to go, or just like remembering it from a distance, Grown-ish is you...not shying away from the topics of sex, drugs, racism, love, sour cream and cheddar, or anything in between.” Sherin Nicole, Idobi

Metacritic score: N/A (71 out of 100 for season one)

Where to watch: New episodes of Grown-ish air on Freeform Wednesdays at 8 pm Eastern. Previous episodes are streaming on Hulu (where you can watch Black-ish, too).