Young Love Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online
Max’s Young Love is a delightfully charming animated series. Through its clever writing and strong comedic timing, it delivers a humorous and often heartwarming depiction of a modern African American family. Though its reserved handling of some mature themes prevents Young Love from living up to its impressive predecessor, Matthew A. Cherry’s Oscar-winning short “Hair Love,” it still manages to be one of Max’s most entertaining animated offerings.
“Hair Love” presented an uplifting portrayal of Black fatherhood: When Stephen’s girlfriend Angela (Issa Rae) was diagnosed with cancer, it fell to him to style their daughter Zuri’s hair. The ensuing struggle to tame her natural curls acts as a means of dispelling the negative stereotypes of absentee fathers; it also reinforced the cultural importance of caring for one’s hair. As a spin-off of “Hair Love,” Young Love does an admirable job of expanding on these and other positive notions through the continuation of this family’s journey.
Young Love initially focuses on the difficulties of parenthood, and how they can be exacerbated by life’s unexpected turns. From there it expands outward to cover conflicting societal norms, financial troubles, and multi-generational drama – all conveyed through the show’s campy, yet relatable family dynamics. The ongoing tension between Stephen (Scott Mescudi, a.k.a. Kid Cudi) and Angela’s landlord father Russell (Harry Lennix) over Stephen’s stagnant music career and reluctance to get a “real job” is amusing. So are the wild ideas of the 6-year-old Zuri (Brooke Monroe Conaway) and the sometimes-outlandish escapades of her grandmother Gigi (Loretta Devine). Whether it’s conning first graders into believing a classmate is the messiah or an impromptu kung fu fight brought on by the collapse of a pyramid scheme, those two are always up to something.
There’s a lot going on at any given moment. Most of it works thanks to Young Love’s clever writing and proper comedic timing: The humor of Gigi demanding a cancer-free Angela take an oxygen tank with her to work is elevated by the arrival of an ambulance meant to tail her commute. There are also the actors themselves: Devine is loveable as the overbearing, yet kind hearted Gigi. Even when her desire to help undermines Angela’s authority, one can’t help but admire the Emmy winner’s enthusiastic display of affection. Russell is akin to the Black sitcom patriarchs of the 1990s, and while his portrayal of a grandpa may not be as memorable as The Fresh Prince’s Uncle Phil or as funny as The Wayans Bros.’ Pops, Lennix’s gruff but ultimately caring demeanor does recreate some of those shows’ magic.
Bouncing from sad to cheerful to awkwardly pessimistic, Rae’s portrayal of Angela is as convincing as it is funny; her complete dismay with a needy parent’s support group (that she inadvertently joins during a field trip) is relayed in a downright hilarious fashion. Cudi and Conaway are also solid as Stephen and Zuri, especially when playing opposite of one another. Cudi’s mostly calm depiction helps to establish Stephen’s resilient nature. He might not always feel fully equipped in his role as a father, but he never skirts his responsibilities. Conaway, conversely, depicts Zuri as an insightful ball of energy. Ever ready to steal a scene, she delivers her lines with a comedic gusto that reflects the character’s smarts and charisma.
Young Love is often funny and at times insightful, with a dope soundtrack, an endearing depiction of Black characters, and some fun, comic book-inspired animation. It more or less proves to be a good family-friendly show, some adult language and situations notwithstanding. But it’s hindered by the way it dances around some of the thronier topics at its core. Seeing Russell swipe a sandwich out of Stephen’s hands as compensation for past due rent or Zuri’s inquisitive nature causing some sort of calamity are certainly worth the laughs they produce – but these moments aren’t as engrossing as Angela’s struggle to regain a sense of normalcy after her battle with cancer. The same goes for Stephen, who at times is forced to address how his abandonment issues as a child have negatively affected his adult life.
There’s depth here. Sadly, the challenges that Stephen and Angela face as a result of their past experiences aren’t fully explored. Some are glossed over once introduced – hindering the messaging that inspired their inclusion in the first place – while others are tidied up in a manner that provides a happy ending but avoids active character growth. This isn’t to say that the show’s quality suffers from this lack of a deeper dive; Young Love would have succeeded by just focusing on the comical interactions between its talented cast. But given its sophistication and nuance elsewhere, it’s hard to get over how superficial certain moments feel.
Young Love’s best episodes are the ones that fully delve into whatever dilemma is being presented and the comedic dialogue and sincere portrayals of these charming characters merge to create heartfelt moments. The rest are good enough; more entertaining than thought-provoking. And that’s OK. It just seems as though Cherry and company wanted to do more than just hint at some of these underlying issues, but for whatever reason, opted to keep much of the show’s commentary on those subjects at a surface level. A shame, considering how bright Young Love shines when it leans into them wholeheartedly.
Young Love is a humorous and, at times, thought-provoking show. It sports a great cast, fun animation, and a dope soundtrack. Some of its positive messaging isn’t as impactful as one would hope due to a reserved approach to the show’s weightier themes. That said, it still manages to be an entertaining animated series that’s worth recommending.