New Year, New Shows, New Conversations
The new year always brings a slew of new TV shows to watch. Here are some favorites—and not just because we have had the opportunity to work with them. These shows all explore relationships, love, pregnancy, and the power to decide with humor and depth. They are also great conversation starters because each show offers a new way to dig into enduring topics. Check them out, join the conversations in social media, add your questions to the mix, and let us know what you think.
This warm, funny spin-off of “black-ish,” is a critically-acclaimed hit in its own right. We follow Zoey Johnson through her college years as she and her eclectic group of friends figure out their love lives, adulthood, and their relationships with each other. One of my favorite aspects of this show is that every character is three-dimensional, funny, and serious at times. It’s truly an ensemble show, and every cast member shines.
As graduation looms for Zoey and her friends, they are faced with their most adult choices yet, and lots for fans to talk about: does Zoey choose her relationship with Aaron over her big career break? Can friends Vivek and Ana keep their hookups a secret? Are Jazz and Doug really over? As a single mom to Luna, will Nomi graduate with her peers? Will she have a relationship with Luna’s father?
“grown-ish” proves that you can tackle serious issues in a comedy and stay true to both. Massive student debt; stigma around mental health challenges in the Black community; aggressive policing against young people of color; infidelity, sexual identity, setting and holding your boundaries, unplanned pregnancy, and parenting while in college…nothing in the show is off limits, and problems aren’t magically resolved in one episode. Figuring out who you really are is the most consistent theme, and it’s not always pretty.
Through weekly live tweets and twitter polls with the show, we know that viewers relate to what they’re seeing: more than half agreed “”grown-ish” gets me thinking about how a pregnancy would affect my life right now,” 9 in 10 say the show helps them feel more comfortable “speaking up for what my heart wants.”
Join weekly live tweets with @PowerToDecide @grownish #grownish. Watch new episodes of “grown-ish” Thursdays at 10/9c on Freeform, next day on Hulu.
“The Rookie” (ABC)
Nyla Harper is a police detective on the hit ABC series “The Rookie,” whose backstory includes high-risk undercover work; a heroic hostage rescue; and victory in a heated custody battle for her daughter, Lila. Portrayed with humor and grit by Mekia Cox, Harper and her fellow officers have personal lives whose dramas rival the crime stories they pursue in their day jobs.
This season, Nyla has an unplanned pregnancy—much to her surprise and delight, since she had been told she couldn’t get pregnant again after complications from her pregnancy with Lila. This news throws her new relationship with Janes into high gear and it looks like they’re up to the challenge of parenthood together.
Harper finds out she’s pregnant during an ER visit for a hand injury sustained while (successfully) interrupting a robbery. Notably, she’s six weeks pregnant and had no idea—just like so many, many others in the real world. Especially right now, showing that a smart, capable mom, and a beloved TV cop can not know she’s pregnant is immeasurably helpful in supporting public perceptions of what being six weeks pregnant looks and feels like.
Mekia Cox revealed that she’s pregnant IRL, making this storyline even more important and poignant. She publicly thanked showrunner Alexi Hawley and the writing team: “Happy to be on a show where pregnancy is acknowledged and celebrated.” Power to Decide supports the storyline with expertise and resources, making the show an ideal starting point for conversations about unplanned pregnancy. Viewers are responding: social engagement and traffic to Bedsider’s pregnancy articles spike each time the show shares our content.
Watching Detective Harper balance work, pregnancy, and a new relationship is full of humor and poignant moments. When will she have to slow down on the gunfights? How will her fellow officers adjust personally and professionally? How will pregnancy and parenthood shape her relationship with James?
Join weekly live tweets with @TheRookie #TheRookie @PowerToDecide. Catch new episodes of The Rookie Sundays on ABC at 10/9c ET, next day on Hulu.
How I Met Your Father (Hulu)
This long-awaited Hulu original series is inspired by “How I Met Your Mother,” the hit CBS comedy that ran from 2005-2014, which followed single Ted and his close-knit group of friends as they navigate dating, love, marriage, and relationships in New York—all while future Ted narrated everything for his kids.
In “How I Met Your Father,” twenty-something Sophie is optimistic about finding love in New York, and narrator/future Sophie (Kim Cattrall), recounts everything in excruciating detail in 2050 to her son over video chat. For the die-hard HIMYM fans, there are a lot of touchpoints that connect this series to the original. Even for newcomers, the show has a nostalgic feel.
What’s new: more varied perspectives and a more diverse range of characters, dating in the age of Tinder, and more edgy conversation topics (app-enabled sex toys) that wouldn’t fly in network prime time. The best conversation-starter offered by the series is still the core question: what is love? How do you know when you’ve found it? Is there “The One?” or is that a limiting concept?
The idea that your 20s are for figuring out who you are and what you want feels less carefree now than it did in 2014, or even 2019. The group of friends—especially our beloved Francia Raisa from “grown-ish” as Sophie’s sex-positive roommate, Valentina—is diving headlong into conversations about commitment, long-distance relationships, love, sex, and how to tell the difference.
When Power to Decide worked with HIMYM on episodes such as “Not A Father’s Day,” Barney celebrated a pregnancy false alarm while Marshall and Lily wonder if it’s time for a baby. In 2022, these questions seem almost quaint. It will be interesting to see how the sequel’s writers, executive producers, and the original series creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas tackle these universal questions today with the benefit of more open public conversations about sex and birth control.
Catch new episodes of How I Met Your Father Tuesdays on Hulu through March 15, 2022.
Unexpected Season 5 (TLC)
Along with the show’s many fans, we’re eagerly anticipating the fifth season of TLC’s “Unexpected,” an unvarnished look at two generations of teen pregnancy and parenthood. As the lead educational partner to the show, Power to Decide has had the privilege of working with TLC to bring information, resources, discussion guides, and more to viewers since the show’s premiere.
Debuting in 2017, “Unexpected” quickly became a fan favorite, sparking passionate conversations about how each young couple and their parents are dealing with the challenges and joys that young pregnancy and parenthood bring. This show is a perfect example of what drives our #TalkingIsPower campaign: talking openly about sex, love, and relationships changes lives; and “Unexpected” offers an ideal way to jump-start these conversations. As Tell-All host Ananda Lewis notes in her special video message, “It’s not about having “The Talk,” but an open dialogue about love, sex, and relationships.”
The young grandparents’ stories factor in as much as their teenage children’s do, which is a large part of the show’s appeal. There are so many genuine moments of heartbreak along with spectacular triumphs. In season four, watching the young families experience pregnancy, labor, and delivery during the pandemic was especially meaningful, and gave us all a way to empathize and relate.
Each season raises some of the most vital questions that young people and their parents, mentors, and champions can discuss: what are must-haves in a relationship? If you can't talk openly with your parents, do you have an adult in your life you can trust? Are the expectations for teen dads different than those for teen moms? What do you want to have in place before you become a parent? Our discussion guide helps viewers explore these questions and more without judgment.
Join the conversation with @TLC and @PowerToDecide #Unexpected #TalkingIsPower. Catch up on the first four seasons and lots of video extras at TLC GO and Discovery +. Check for updates on Season 5 on Facebook.