Young Love is a phenomenal new series. It continues that story, showing the struggles and joys father Stephen Love (Scott Mescudi), mother Angela Young (Issa Rae), and their daughter, 6-year-old Zuri Young Love (Brooke Conaway), experience while living in Chicago. Filled to the brim with realistic and exaggerated humor, as only a delightful animated series provides, Young Love is a dynamic new series that’s a joy for the whole family, hitting that sweet spot for children and adults.
Created by Matthew A. Cherry and based on his Oscar-winning 2020 Best Anime Short Film, “Hair Love,” it picks up after Angela’s return home from the hospital after battling cancer. Now that she’s healthy and home, the trio readjusts to different home dynamics, or “new regime,” as Zuri puts it, which leads to plenty of hilarity and mishaps. The first season packs all the various experiences of living while Black into a compact runtime and twelve episodes.
There’s something for everyone to point to with an “I remember that,” from the plastic covers on furniture to the gentrification to struggle in the music industry. Rounding out the cast is Loretta Devine as Gigi, Harry Lennix as Russell, and Tamar Braxton as Star. Sony Pictures Animation is on fire with this series and the already iconic Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
Young Love Is Touching and Hilarious
Each episode touches on an aspect of their life. Stephen has an uphill battle as a music producer, and Angela tries to find her stride again as a talented hair stylist. But there’s also the struggle to balance that with parenthood. Extended family drama, bills, societal issues, and childhood problems exist. But each episode wraps up in the sweetest yet funny way. Through it all, Young Love emphasizes family in a feel-good mix of warmth and laughs.
The voice cast is perfect. Each voice actor/actress fits their role and complements each other. So, humor packs added comical punch, thanks to how they play off each other. Issa Rae voicing Angela brings the awkward hilarity that made Insecure such a joy. Scott Mescudi’s is terrific, nailing the frustration while fighting with music artists in the industry and sometimes in over his head father. Both parents have times where they feel overwhelmed and the series grounds it but uses humor to capture those fraught moments.
Loretta Devine is perfect in every role I’ve seen, and I will die on that hill. Her voice, her delivery, never misses. Brooke Conaway, as Zuri, is one to look out for; she delivers the balance between childhood innocence and fearlessness. Harry Lennix captures the voice of a gruff, lecturing older man out of touch at times yet wise in others.
Playlist Music and Outstanding Animation
Music selection adds a layer of feel-good and raucous, comical moments. The soundtrack for confessions gone awry, jingle hell—all the music, both beats and songs, hit. The music supervisor, Morgan Rhodes, editor Michael C. Traylor, and composers Amanda Jones and Taylor Graves further reel audiences into each scene. Taylor Graves created the at-once tranquil yet shoulder-shrugging “Young Love Theme” song. It captures the essence of the series and the young family at its center. All good things reside in Young Love. It is one of those soundtracks that get folks through the day. I needed this on vinyl last year!
Young Love is the animated series of 2023. It’s fun for the whole family. The creators, from writers to voice actors to music composers to animators, made a show that checks all the boxes. Beautiful, moving, and heartfelt with tons of laughs and quotable moments, “Do you really want this smoke,” Young Love captures the ups and downs of family in a fun, family-friendly series. It’s an animated gem with a Black family front and center and delivers something spectacular.
*This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.