In its sophomore year, “Grown-ish” doesn’t have it all figured out. And that’s exactly what makes the “Black-ish” spinoff so relatable.
“No one ever truly has it figured out,” says actor Trevor Jackson, 22. “As we go, we learn, correct and adjust, and I think this show shows you that it’s OK not to be OK at times. If we knew everything it’d be boring, right? It’s the triumph, the valleys, that make life worthwhile.”
Entering its second season Wednesday, the series that’s been heavily compared to “The Cosby Show” spinoff “A Different World” falls into a comfortable groove balancing topics heavy — political and social protests, drug usage — and light — hookups and social media woes.
“We’re never too forceful” with a political agenda, Jackson explains. “We always give two sides and allow the audience to decide what they feel is closest to them.”
Jackson starred opposite Yara Shahidi as Aaron, one of Zoey’s love interests in the spinoff’s premiere season. The finale cliffhanger showed her trying to tie down one of three very different men — a choice that’ll shape the direction of season 2.
Semi-spoiler: Zoey doesn’t choose Aaron. But the Head of the Black Student Union and self-declared college activist still has a journey of his own to explore.
“You see Aaron living his best life. He’s single now, and I think he’s more focused on school and becoming a new position in his dorm,” Jackson says, teasing that his character will take on the role of a Cal U dorm resident assistant (RA). “I think we see his relationships with the guys get stronger, too, him and Jordan’s [Buhat] character, Vivek.”
Politics aside, it’s the on-screen relationships that send one of the series’ deepest messages amid an entertainment scene where shows focused on the young black experience are limited.
“It’s the no judgment,” Jackson says of the half-hour sitcom that weaves together a diverse group of teens including the Cuban American Analisa (Francia Raisa) and Vivek, whose parents are Indian immigrants.
With “so many different faces” on the show, as Jackson puts it, the script can jump easily from background scripts spoken solely in Spanish to scenes exploring black culture.
“Grown-ish’s” sophomore learning curve might benefit its growing audience even more than its characters.
“I think the only reason people judge is because they don’t understand. This show really lays it out and allows you to see where every person is coming from,” he explains. “Then, you start to see through lenses other than your own. Our lenses are tailored to make us feel comfortable but everybody doesn’t see the world the same way we do. I think that’s what the show really capitalizes on.”
“Grown-ish” airs at 8 p.m. Wednesdays on Freeform.