Young Love Review: A Vibrant Depiction of the Black Family

Young Love's depiction of a modern Black family as they navigate life is a charming and insightful must-see exploration of love and survival.

Young Love picks up the story from creator Matthew A. Cherry's award winning short film and picture book, Hair Love. It revolves around Stephen Love (Kid Cudi), his girlfriend Angela Young (Issa Rea) and their clever six year old daughter Zuri Young Love (Brooke Monroe Conaway). Hair Love, focused on Stephen Love besting the challenge of doing young Zuri's hair before a hospital visit to see Angela as she battled cancer. It's amusing and engaging story of Black fatherhood and devotion directly challenged many long-held stereotypes about Black men, masculinity, and commitment. Young Love, Max's new animated series, offers a witty and engaging slice-of-life narrative centering this modern Black family that's a refreshingly multi-faceted, constantly engaging and highly relatable.

It's been two months post-recovery for Angela. As she readies herself to return to work as a hairstylist/vlogger, Angela attempts to step back into her role in of her household. Stephen a music producer, turns his energy to breaking big into the industry. While Zuri returns to school and is soon embroiled in her own (mis)adventures. The series expands the family adding Angela's stern traditionalist parents Gigi (Loretta Devine) and Russell (Harry Lennix) Young as well as a host of friends and co-workers. Brought to life by a 2D animation-style with an immersive charm and flare, each episode Young Love puts in work offering stereotype-dispelling portrayals of Black people. The episodes focus on topics like freelancing and the entrepreneurial hustle, money management, and wanting better for your child. And like all good slice-of-life storylines, Young Love thrives on camaraderie, honestly, caring, laughter, and connection. 

The series make the most of its talented voice cast to add depth to the plot and character development. By incorporating many of the obstacles to keeping a family together and showcasing both Stephen and Angela's efforts to build professional lives, Young Love offers a dynamic glimpse into Chicago life. The episode topics are all family-friendly without shying away from tacking complicated issues like, religion, managing finances, and familial support (and interference) and past relationship trauma. If there's a downside, it'd be that some story arcs leave you wanting a deeper dive. Which just goes to demonstrate how the series' writing continuously lives up to the heartwarming original short film.

Young Love strength lies in focusing on how Stephen and Angela navigate life together while also juggling the work it takes to move their careers forward. The setup opens the door for a rich journey into the joys and trials of a multi-generational Black family. Zuri slowly comes into her own combating problems both real, and of her own making at school. Expect hijinks and more than one slyly planted lesson. You laugh, nod along, and be in your feelings every step of the way. 

Cherry's direction incorporates the best elements from the heyday of Black sitcoms and offers a brand of wry self-awareness that not every aspect of those tropes aged well as time marched on. It leans into sharp dialogue between complicated personalities to reset the bar showing that overcoming obstacles or working through trauma doesn't require harping on suffering to be impactful. Plus, the series never loses its up-beat edge which allows its more serious moments to shine. 

Through sharp dialogue and timely confrontations, Young Love highlights the unique perspective of journeying through life as a Black person. The series also skillfully embraces the universality of what it takes to show up for yourself and your family. Cherry's crafted an endlessly positive representation of not only the Black family but of Black love using humor, hyperbole, and the right amount of tension. The show and its eclectic range of characters easily threads the needle of being the type of story likely to appeal to both binge-watchers and those who prefer to consume shows at a slower-pace. Young Love demonstrates, definitively, that refocusing the lens through which media presents the intricate dance that is Black life is not only possible but leads to better storytelling. This is one series you won't want to miss. 

Young Love starts streaming on Max on September 21, 2023.

Young Love | Official Trailer | Max

When life gets messy, feel the love. #YoungLove premieres September 21 on Max. #YoungLoveMax #HairLove #KidCudi #IssaRae #LorenaJorge #ToniRicardo #AdrianoRivero #MatthewACherry About Max: Max is the culture-defining entertainment service for every mood. With a variety of genres that include your favorite series and movies from iconic brands and treasured franchises, it delivers irresistible stories every time.

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