Picking up right where “Hair Love” left off, “Young Love” follows the Young/Love family: music producer Stephen Love (Scott Mescudi), hair stylist/vlogger Angela Young (Issa Rae), and their precocious six-year-old daughter Zuri (Brooke Conaway), navigating life in Chicago two months following Angela’s cancer recovery.
Waiting for his big break, level-headed Stephen is advised by his agent, Star (Tamar Braxton), to produce beats for up-and-coming, arrogant rapper Little Ankh. To the dismay of Angela’s stern, traditionalist father/landlord Russell (Harry Lennix) and mother Gigi (Loretta Devine), Stephen’s freelancing music-producing gig isn’t sustainable enough to pay the bills. Meanwhile, Angela restarts her life, returning to her salon job, where her co-workers initially treat her as a patient rather than a person. Then, she finds a list of post-cancer goals and works on the personal endeavors she promised herself. Young Zuri gets into many misadventures at elementary school, often rebelling against the system by becoming Angela Davis for coffee cakes at her school, going against Girl Scouts, and appointing herself as a new messiah when she doesn’t get a star student award.
For a series about a modern African-American family, “Young Love”‘s essence carries itself like a contemporary version of classic late ’90s-early ’00s Black sitcoms like “My Wife and Kids,” “One on One,” “All of Us” (anything that derived from the UPN lineup), which aired during the formative years for millions of millennials. Like those shows, “Young Love” shines through its writing, resuming the family’s loving camaraderie established in the short, even for unfamiliar viewers. Now that the characters speak, the writing staff strikes a lighthearted, effortlessly charming tone led by humorous, personality-driven characters.
The series prospers from thoughtful and insightful takes on generational differences in traditionalist topics: religion not being essential in Stephen and Angela’s lives, which shocks Russell and Gigi, trying to be a better parent than the one before you, sharing a bank account. The writers’ greatest strength is in rendering Stephen and Angela’s relationship. They are a supportive, loving couple whose bond transcends societal nuclear family expectations, another topic handled with maturity and insightfulness. They’re comfortable in their familial status without putting a ring on each other’s fingers. Even with their strong bond, their relationship doesn’t define their characters, as the writers focus on them individually in their frustrating pursuits of happiness. Some of the strongest episodes within the 12-episode season lie in examining each party’s search for purpose in their everyday lives.
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