'Grown-ish' Season 5 Offers a New Perspective, Thanks to Junior

In Season 5, 'grown-ish' switches from a young Black woman's perspective to a young Black man's point of view.
by Danielle Turchiano — 

Marcus Scribner and Yara Shahidi in 'Grown-ish'


The torch has been passed and now Andre Johnson Jr. aka Junior (Marcus Scribner) is the one living the college life on Freeform's grown-ish (Metascore: 71), and with that change of perspective come a whole new set of stories.

"What's so nice about grown-ish is it's really a college experience and every four years, new students enroll. So, we try to keep a lot of the same energy," co-showrunner Zakiyyah Alexander said during a Television Critics Association press tour panel for the series.

Grown-ish started as a spin-off of ABC sitcom black-ish, following the eldest Johnson daughter Zoey (Yara Shahidi) as she moved out of her Sherman Oaks, Calif. home into the college dorms of California University of Liberal Arts, aka Cal U. Now, the show shifts perspective to her younger brother Junior's experience after taking time off between schooling to work with their father at an advertising agency before pursuing higher education. 

As the show moves from having the central point of view of a young Black woman to a young Black man, Alexander noted, "We're watching him deal with relationships in a slightly different way. I think what was so nice about Zoey's character is that Zoey has a very specific perspective and it's very clear...and Junior has a very different one."

Additionally, Shahidi added that "there's so much bringing Junior on has allowed us to leverage in terms of stories and worlds that Zoey and her crew would have never gone into."

A potential example is Greek life and secret societies, as Junior was tapped by one of the latter and then also considers joining a fraternity.

Although with Junior will come some new other characters as he makes his own friends and romantic connections, important voices from previous seasons are not going anywhere. Namely, Aaron (Trevor Jackson), Doug (Diggy Simmons), and Kiela (Daniella Perkins), in addition to Zoey, are still important parts of the story — they just remain in different capacities. Aaron is now an assistant professor, while Doug is also working, and Kiela is acting as a mentor of sorts to new student Junior.

Shahidi pointed out that once upon a time, the working title for the show was college-ish, but that was scrapped early on in the process, which was a good thing because of how the show really focuses on the wider definition of growing up, rather than just on traditional on-campus education or experiences. However, whether that means that going forward the show could leave Cal U behind or expand to follow the younger Johnson kids as they continue to mature, remains to be seen. One of the exciting things about the show in Shahidi's eyes — that she acknowledged can be stressful for the writers' room — is that they don't plan things out too far in advance. In fact, Scribner didn't even know Junior would be living on until after he had already said goodbye to him on black-ish.

Naturally, though, the chance to continue the character into his adulthood was one that excited the actor. 

Grown-ish Season 5 airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Freeform.