Review: 'Raven's Home' is a worthy sequel for beloved 2000s series, 'That's So Raven'

July 22nd 2017

If your jury was still out on whether Disney Channel's Raven's Home, a follow-up series to the beloved 2000s hit, That's So Raven, would be good — have no fear. Premiering 14 and a half years after its parent series first debuted, Raven's Home is very promising if you want a family-friendly show with a bunch of laughs. In the era of comedy reboots (looking at you Fuller House and Girl Meets World) you'd think it would be a tough task to throw another hat in the ring, but Raven's Home is ready.

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Shenanigans are abundant in the new series, which sees Raven (Raven-Symone) and Chelsea (Annaliese van der Pol) living together as recent divorcees under one roof with their kids in Chicago. While most Disney comedies that came after its golden age (referring to shows either post-Hannah Montana for some folks, or post-Wizards of Waverly Place for others) sometimes seem to force comedy, it's second nature for the 'Raven' revival.

It shouldn't be a surprise that its sweet spot will be scenes between Raven and Chelsea. We all know that a good amount of the audience will be those who grew up watching Raven and Chelsea, tuning in to see them again. This means they have to be careful giving an ample amount of screen time to them, and not focusing solely on the kids (which some may argue was the downfall of Girl Meets World, but that's neither here nor there). We already know that Jonathan McDaniel is returning as Devon, at least in a recurring capacity, but perhaps lets also dig in the Raven vault for folks like Alana (Adrienne Bailon), Muffy (Ashley Drane), Loca (Ashley Edwards), Stanley (Bobb'e J. Thompson) and Sydney (Sydney Park) to have more 'young adult' appealing-storylines to complement the ones for the young ones.

Undoubtedly stealing the show is Issac Ryan Brown (who you may recognize as a Young Wes from flashbacks on How to Get Away with Murder) as Booker, who is passed down psychic abilities from Raven, with a personality as erratic and vivacious as his mother's character in her 2003 debut. However, this isn't to say Navia Robinson's Nia isn't great as well. She's a foil to Booker, more confident and bold. I know it's a bit early to think about future post-show, but she's got all the makings to be the next Zendaya to come from the network.

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The premiere episode revolves around Booker learning he has psychic powers. He tells Chelsea's son Levi (Jason Maybaum) and BFF/neighbor Tess (Sky Katz) who believe him, but Nia doesn't, until she ends up falling victim to something that Booker's vision predicted. We're getting double doses of visions this time around, and it seems that Raven will have her visions just as much as Booker will have his. As of the premiere, the kids have yet to reveal to Raven and Chels that Booker is psychic. It's no telling how long they'll keep this under wraps for Raven, but it's sure to have an integral part, at least in its first season.

If I have to be a Daniel Downer for just a little bit, I will say that the Tess character will become a bit grinding over time, so I'd suggest they fix her characterization. This is no fault of the actress, who seems to be doing a good job so far and I like that the character is fulfilling the 'tomboy' archetype. However, the over usage of AAVE and black slang in her dialogue should definitely be toned down.

For years we were rumored to be getting a YA spinoff of That's So Raven on ABC or ABC Family (now Freeform) with them in college, but with that never coming to fruition, if you're like me and want a weekly quick watch to get a good laugh and get a rush of nostalgia at the same time, this is what you're looking for. I know some of you may be hesitant to watch because of Raven's actions in recent years, but I promise you, it's worth it.

Disney Channel has released the full episode on YouTube for viewing. You can watch below:

by Trey Mangum on July 22nd 2017

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