Brie Larson is likely one of the govt producers of Growing Up, a ten-part docuseries the place every of those younger adults inform their tales, and concerning the difficulties they needed to overcome as children and teenagers with a view to stay the lives they wish to stay. Each of the “heroes” profiled has had some problem they’ve needed to get previous, and Larson’s hope is that by sharing their tales, everybody within the viewers can relate and really feel much less alone.


Opening Shot: On a pastel-colored set stuffed with cushions, eleven younger adults arrive and chat with one another. Then producer Brie Larson tells them what they’re doing in the course of the “hangout section” of the collection Growing Up.

The Gist: Larson directs the segments the place all of the folks profiled sit within the studio, take heed to the one who’s featured and chime in after they have one thing so as to add. The remainder of every episode, which presents the individual’s story through narration, interviews with the individual’s dad and mom, images and residential video, in addition to reenactments and set items, is put collectively by a totally different director.

The first episode is about 20-year-old Vanessa Aryee, who emigrated from Ghana to the US together with her household when she was 7. She all the time struggled to slot in, inspired by household and friends to straighten her hair and really being informed by a crush in center college that she’d be fairly if her pores and skin was a few shades lighter. She felt so unhealthy about her pores and skin tone that as a teen she really purchased skin-lightening cream. She additionally had extreme zits in highschool. She concentrated on her research, acquired into NYU as a premed scholar, and at last began to embrace how she regarded, together with her pores and skin tone and pure curls.

In the second episode, greatest associates Clare Della Valle and Isabel Lam discuss their opposites-attract friendship blossoming in eighth grade over their dads’ shared ardour for comedian books. Then they discuss beginning bringing consciousness on the subject of interval poverty to their Pennsylvania highschool, declaring how some ladies don’t have entry to menstrual merchandise both due to price or simply the final reluctance of women to speak about one thing that’s a pure bodily operate.

Growing Up
Photo: Disney+

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? There aren’t a lot of analogues to Growing Up, nevertheless it definitely has the feel-good vibe of a documentary like Dads.

Our Take: The undeniable fact that Growing Up profiles younger adults that aren’t actors — so far as we all know — is likely one of the issues that makes the collection an interesting one to observe. The struggles that the “hero,” as every featured individual known as, goes by in every episode are relatable. Very few folks sail by their childhood and teenage years with out at the very least some interval the place they really feel alone, or alienated, or not like they slot in. The collection covers a variety of totally different conditions, which is able to seemingly assist the present join with a large swath of viewers.

But even when the scenario of a “hero” is totally different from yours, or even should you’re an outdated coot like we’re and bear in mind being their age earlier than the web was a factor, the final themes of attempting to slot in or not liking what you see within the mirror needs to be common.

We’re normally not a fan of reenactments in these sorts of exhibits, nevertheless it’s not like these folks have tons of archival footage to lean on. So every section’s director — Larson directs the one with the 2 BFFs, and Yara Shahidi directs one other section — stylizes the hero’s story in a manner that makes it really feel prefer it’s a stage model of their story as an alternative of a true reenactment. It additionally generates actual moments, like when the precise Vanessa sits within the therapist’s chair and reaches out to the woman taking part in the uncertain center college model of herself.

Another surprisingly efficient system is the “hangout” portion of every episode, with the opposite members of the solid giving their enter, asking questions, or making observations. It brings out real moments, like when Sofia Ongele talks to Vanessa about how self-conscious she is about her hair; Vanessa offers her encouraging phrases about how she feels freer together with her pure hair, and the 2 hug. In a tag over the credit, there’s an Instastory exhibiting Sofia off for the primary time together with her pure hair.

What Age Group Is This For?: This is definitely a present that may join with children from the tween years on up.

Parting Shot: Vanessa ends her story by saying how she now seems to be at her reflection when she used to keep away from it, as a result of she is aware of she’s lovely in and out.

Sleeper Star: In each episode, the sleepers are going to be the dad and mom of the “hero,” as a result of they’re keen to open up concerning the difficulties their baby confronted and the challenges they’d as dad and mom.

Most Pilot-y Line: This is a nitpick, however when Larson talks about everybody seeing if they’ll relate to one another by their tales, the group snaps fingers like they’re at a poetry slam.

Our Call: STREAM IT. Even although the present is a bit stylized, Growing Up could be very efficient at getting throughout to its meant viewers — and their dad and mom! — that they’re not alone and there’s loads of time to begin figuring issues out.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about meals, leisure, parenting and tech, however he doesn’t child himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared within the New York Times, Slate, Salon,,, Fast Company and elsewhere.

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