Tuesday morning at TCA started off with a hearty dose of inclusivity and representation with Freeform’s Youth Movement panel which consisted of producers and cast members from Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, Grown-ish, and Good Trouble, which, right before the panel, was renewed for a second season (members of the cast were more than ecstatic when the news was announced).
Grown-ish and Good Trouble are certainly on-brand for the millennial-driven channel and based on its predecessor, The Perfectionists will certainly be cut from the same cloth. The shows have given a different perspective of today’s youth — a perspective you rarely see on television. Often times, young adults are talked down to or seen as precious on various dramas and sitcoms, but with this trio of shows, they represent young adults in the opposite direction.
“From the pilot of Pretty Little Liars and on, we treat our characters as adults because they are,” said King. “We treat tme like adults because they are dealing with very grown up problems.”
Pieterse adds that on Pretty Little Liars, the thoughts and decisions of young adults are respected and their opinions matter. “That’s part of the reason why our viewers became attached,” she says. “They saw themselves in us.”
When it comes to representing young people, Johnson, who jokingly says she grew up in the ’20s, chimes in saying “We felt it was important to do a lot of research and to have younger voices in the writers room.” She feels its important to asks questions like “Is it relevant right now?” and “Is this what the kids are saying.”
“It isn’t about falling in line with a directive,” says Rice-Genzuk Henry. “It’a about being the most authentic. It starts and stops with Kenya Barris. In the writers room, it’s about what we are saying .” She adds that’s what makes grown-ish different from any other random show and she points out that the actors have a BS detector when it comes to writing about young characters like themselves.
“For us, it boils down to what’s hot, relevant and authentic,” she says. “We like leaving the audience with a different perspective.”
One commonality among the show besides being millennial-driven is that all of them are spinoffs. However, just because they are spinoffs, doesn’t mean that it has been an easy road for them.
Rice-Genzuk Henry says that it has become a slightly more complicated process for grown-ish because it was coming off the enormous success of black-ish. “[Kenya Barris] wanted to set a completely different tone for Zoey — it’s a different show.” She said following in the footsteps of black-ish isn’t exactly an easy task. “We wanted to tackle it with authentic youth and culture.”
“The easy part was the partnership with Freeform,” says Johnson. She also says that fans of The Fosters were so emotionally attached to the show and that they were upset when the show ended. It was a task to bring these fans into a different show to see Ramirez and Mitchell’s characters grow and further the social impact set by its predecessor.
“Luckily we didn’t let them down,” she says.