Synopsis: Based on the characters introduced in the Academy Award®-winning short film, Hair Love from Oscar® winner Matthew A. Cherry and Sony Pictures Animation
Being a parent is never easy no matter the era or how great your child is. Every bundle of joy is born during a time with its own unique complications to parents who were raised in a time vastly different than their own parental figureheads. Not to mention, we tend to forget that just as the child is learning, growing, and maturing, the parents are as well. It’s a journey unlike any other that is experienced in an infinite number of ways with an unfathomable number of personalities and variables. Remember that next time you judge another.
“We’re getting pretty good at this parenting thing.”
New comfort show incoming. In a world littered with adversity, negativity, and people who’ve made their political affiliation their entire identity, it’s always nice to escape to the safety of your home and lose yourself inside a fantastic television program. Fortunately, one of those fantastic shows is on the way incredibly soon. Created by Matthew A. Cherry in partnership with Sony Pictures Animation, Young Love is refreshing family-forward fun. It’s finally time for millennials to take over televised parenting duties in a positive and grounded fashion. Expanded from the Academy Award-winning short film, Hair Love that hit us all in the feels, it is now rich with voices, vibrancy, an expansive real-world dynamic, an abundance of personality, and the same authenticity. And what better way to do it than to go full family sitcom? But worry not, that same aesthetic, vibe, and unconditional love remains.
Starring Scott ‘Kid Cudi’ Mescudi, Issa Rae, Brooke Monroe Conaway, Loretta Devine, Harry Lennix, Tamar Braxton, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Debra Wilson, the show follows Stephen (Kid Cudi) and the now cancer-free Angela (Issa Rae). They are two millennial parents trying to succeed in Chicago while traversing the bumpy road that is parenting. Together with their sharp-witted and always scheming daughter, Zuri, they experience imposter syndrome, being a boss, money problems, insecurity, exploitation, gentrification, procrastination, dream chasing, and family drama, just to name a few. Not only is the show a fun watch, but it’s honest, relatable, funny, heartwarming, outrageous, and at times, reminds you of the shows from the 90s that we grew up loving. In other words, the whole family can enjoy this. Especially since family and togetherness are at its core. Throughout the season positivity flows through your speakers and if you’re not smiling or laughing at the end of each episode, you watched it wrong.
“I got so many charms on my bracelet, I tilt to the right like a pimp when I walk.
The 12-episode season does an exceptional job of presenting a reality that most of us can identify with, just from the Black perspective. It doesn’t waste time playing with stereotypes or trying to convince you of how Black it is because to reference Carlton Banks, it’s not trying to be Black, it is Black. With its mix of classic sitcom setups and modern problems paired with likable characters and dazzling animation that puts emphasis on the hair of each person, it’s pure joy from beginning to end. From being a role model, overcoming trauma, standing up for yourself, and more, there’s something for everyone. And I can’t wait for everyone to experience Lil Ankh.
The title of each episode gives you an idea of the issue that will be handled adjacent to the word love, letting you know the overarching theme of the season. Sadly, there isn’t an abundance of predominantly Black or Black-led animation to choose from, but if you are going to start somewhere, this is the perfect place to start. The voice acting is phenomenal, the music is dope, the attention to detail is remarkable, and the writing is perfect. Each episode flows as smoothly as Stephen wants his beats to be and is as well-crafted as the hair Angela does. It’s truly amazing to see what was birthed from a short that was just under seven minutes. Furthermore, with each episode being around 30 minutes, it’s easy viewing. However, it is also able to pack in and unpack the point of view of multiple characters, as some of them simultaneously experience the same issues. Be sure to put this on your list because you’re not going to want to miss it. I enjoyed this show more than I could’ve imagined. Its rewatchability is high.
Every great show has those episodes that outshine the others, resonate in a specific way, or just hit different. While every episode in this season has its impact, the five below have that special sauce.
Episode 1: Self Love – I had to pick this one since it jumpstarts it all. While it does reference what took place in Hair Love, it quickly takes on its own identity and builds the world and characters that we are going to experience.
Episode 5: Jingle Love – This episode has the wildest twist in it. It also presents some classic sitcom scenarios.
Episode 6: Lost Love – This episode is one most topical as we all try to get back the energy that we put out and find that passive income. We also get some important backstory.
Episode 8: Chicago Love – The most relevant of the bunch, if you live in a growing city, you’ll relate to this one. It features my favorite ending.
Episode 12: Love Love – Just a perfect ending to the season. Also, a huge representation of millennials and our out look on tradition.
I have felt seen by a show in a very long time like I was with Young Love. It truly is a show for my generation. Not only do I relate culturally and generationally, but it is extremely heartwarming to see characters with unconventional jobs, tattoos, and locs be represented in a normal everyday manner. For them to recognize that my generation thinks differently and doesn’t covet the same traditions as our elders but is still respectful of them puts a smile on my face. To speak it into existence, I can’t wait to see season 2 and beyond. Seeing yourself in a positive light does something special to your soul, it’s like medicine, and I hope that it can help cure us all.
Young Love premieres with four episodes on Thursday, September 21, 2023, on Max. The twelve-episode season will continue with four episodes weekly, leading up to the season finale on Thursday, October 5. Remain safe and “The Powerade of Christ compels you.”
Creator: Matthew A. Cherry
Writers: Matthew A. Cherry, Carl Jones, Dayna Lynne North, Ranada Shepard, Jeanine Daniels, Keisha Zollar, Juston Gordon-Montgomery, Brian Ashburn, R. Malcom Jones, Jackson DeLoach, Kelsey Barry, Breannah Gibson, Guillermo Martinez
Producers: Matthew A. Cherry, Monica A. Young, Karen Rupert Toliver, Carl Jones, David Steward II, Carl Reed, Karen Malach
Production Partner: Sony Pictures Animation
Senior Critic. Observing the human race since 1988.