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Set to share an hour with Melissa and Joey this Wednesday night is ABC Family’s new half-hour comedy series State of Georgia. Raven-Symone returns to a starring role in a TV show in this comedy about a girl who moves to New York to make it in the big city as an actress.
I’ll preface this review by stating that an appreciation for Raven-Symone’s brand of theatrical comedy is in order here. The star, who got her start on The Cosby Show spinoff A Different World, and later a regular gig being adorable as Olivia on The Cosby Show, has made a career of being cute and funny. State of Georgia isn’t deviating from that path, however we are seeing a slightly more grown up Raven-Symone in her new role as Georgia Chamberlin.
State of Georgia begins with Georgia and her close friend Jo (Majandra Delfino) working hard at a New York department store, spritzing shoppers with perfume as they wander past. As Georgia lives with her wealthy Aunt Honey (Loretta Devine), the job seems almost unnecessary, but it gives Georgia and Jo some common ground as the two have very different personalities. While Georgia is outgoing, charismatic and determined to be the next big thing on the Broadway stage, Jo is more timid and socially awkward, with a frizzy mess of blonde hair and an enthusiasm for science. Both are likable and the chemistry between Raven and Delfino works well. You get the sense that their yin and yang friendship has worked well for these characters throughout their fictional friendship. Jo’s story offers a side-plot involving a group of amusing geeks who study physics with her.
I’ve been a fan of Loretta Devine since she nervously chopped off Angela Bassett’s hair in Waiting to Exhale. Her role as Aunt Honey has her dressed in satin robes, flitting about her posh apartment, enjoying a drink and offering bits of wisdom and inspiration to her niece. Aunt Honey gets some laughs and helps justify Georgia’s comfortable living situation in New York.
I mentioned earlier that an appreciation for Raven-Symone is a necessary trait to have going into this series. I happen to find her charming, charismatic, energetic and most of all, funny and she brings all of that to her role as Georgia. Meanwhile, Majandra Delfino's portrayal as the charming, geeky best friend Jo somehow manages to compliment Georgia's big personality, rather than fading into her shadow.
Georgia and Jo are on an adventure to find love, professional success and good times as they enjoy everything New York has to offer, which based on the first couple of episodes, is Broadway and frozen yogurt. State of Georgia has a decidedly staged feel to it, with the humor seeming a bit exaggerated, but the style works well in keeping the the show light, fun and a fine continuation of Raven-Symone’s nearly life-long career as an entertainer.
State of Georgia premieres Wednesday, June 29 at 8:30 PM ET/PT on ABC Family.