‘Young Love’ Creator Matthew A. Cherry Is In His EGOT Era: Season 2 Info, New Spin-Off Book, More


I’ll be the first to say it: Matthew A. Cherry is in his EGOT era. After coming off the hype of his Oscar-winning short film Hair Love, the creator has pulled together 12 exciting, heartfelt episodes of a Max animated series that expands on the beloved storyline. Young Love — which premiered August 21, 2023 on the streamer — follows the titular Young family as they navigate their daily lives. 

Issa Rae returns to voice Angela Young, who is newly released from the hospital and in remission for cancer, as insinuated at the end of the short film. Kid Cudi and Brooke Monroe Conaway respectively join the cast as Stephen and Zuri Young, Angela’s husband and 7-year-old daughter.

The series is booming with exciting energy and genuine life lessons as the family deals with their changing dynamics and the new pressures they are facing upon Angela’s recovery. Through it all, the show stays true to its source material and further dives into various social issues through the lens of a confident Black family.

With Cherry already having Oscar gold under his belt, it only makes sense for this season to be a worthy Emmy competitor when television awards season comes. “You know, I’m a former athlete, so I’m very competitive,” he told Decider over a recent Zoom call. “Why not aim for the biggest stuff you can get? Hopefully, one day, it’ll happen. I feel like the Oscar was the hardest one. So, I’m glad that’s out the way.”

Throughout our interview, timed to the release of the final four episodes of the first season on October 5, 2023, we asked Cherry about the reception of the series, talk about a potential second season, and Max’s mass removal of animated programming in 2022. The creator also teased a new book that he has in the works, along with his idea for another Hair Love spin-off. 

DECIDER: In such a short period of time, Young Love has navigated important conversations about childhood, parenthood, diversity, marriage, social media, and more. What are you most proud of when it comes to creating the series and the final product of the first season?

MATTHEW A. CHERRY: Honestly, I think, just nailing the tone. It was hard because animation sits in these two very distinct buckets: kids’ programming and adult programming. We wanted to go down the middle. That’s been a challenge when it comes to establishing the audience because people probably assume that it’s just for kids. But we dealt with real-life issues in the short film, so we wanted to be able to carry that over and get a chance to treat all the main characters like they’re heroes of their story when we’re in their particular part of their storylines. Landing that was really cool because I had never seen it done with this particular tone. We kept it grounded while also taking advantage of animation and feeling reminiscent of a ‘90s sitcom.

What was going through your mind when you were arranging the order of the episodes? Especially in the final episode, which focuses on Stephen and Angela’s relationship.

We tried to keep it connected throughout. We’re dealing with Angela coming off of this illness and being hit with reality, and feeling like she’s missed out on a lot; Stephen had to take some time off and he’s finally just getting his feet back on the ground a year later; and Zuri has been acting out a little bit in school because they haven’t addressed the whole mom-almost-passing-away of it all. It’s just this combination. I’m really happy how the finale came up. I think it touches on the reason why the show was called Young Love in the first place – the fact that they’re not married and in an untraditional nuclear family, but it doesn’t diminish the love they have for each other and how present they’re going to be for their kid.

Photo: Max

Have there been any conversations about a potential second season of Young Love?

Not yet. I’m just trying to keep the word out there. Hopefully, more people continue to find it and watch it.

If renewed, have you considered any storylines you would want to explore? 

Yeah, I can’t get into them fully yet, but for sure. I definitely want to continue to tell the story of the Youngs and their love. 

You pulled together an amazing predominantly Black cast in the series with Issa Rae returning to reprise her role, along with Kid Cudi and Loretta Devine. Did any of the cast members come as a surprise when they signed on?

I don’t think I was really surprised. I was coming off winning an Oscar and the book shipped three million copies. We were definitely out there in the mainstream media. We figured that as long as the writing was good, we could have our pick of people. And you know, thankfully, everybody said, “Yes!” Loretta, probably, was a great surprise, because I don’t think she’d done a lot of animation before, and she really went for it. None of our actors were ever in the same room with each other and despite that, there still was great chemistry.

With Young Love being a continuation of Hair Love – which won an Academy Award, as you mentioned – what are your expectations and hopes for the upcoming television awards season? 

I think we premiered too late for this current season. I feel like we did what we needed to do to hopefully be in some of the conversations. All this stuff is hard because you could release during a bad year or something else is just the belle of the ball. But I feel confident that we did a great show and hopefully, the appropriate people will notice it. If not, it’s all good.

I keep saying you’re in your EGOT era. Do you see yourself gunning for a Grammy Award or a Tony Award?

Honestly, I thought we were going to be in conversations when Blue Ivy did our audiobook, but it wasn’t long enough. I think you had to be at least 40 minutes in the audiobook category, but ours was like five to 10 minutes long. You know, I’m a former athlete, so I’m very competitive. Why not aim for the biggest stuff you can get? Hopefully, one day, it’ll happen. I feel like the Oscar was the hardest one. So, I’m glad that’s out the way.

Photo: Getty

Do you want to continue Hair Love in any other form? Lots of animated shows have also released feature films, like The Simpsons and Bob’s Burgers.

Oh, no. I mean, the story really lent itself to the television series. We definitely have one or two more tricks up our sleeve that we want to explore. I want to try to do a preschool series with Zuri that’s centered around a music class. That would be dope. I also have another book coming out called Self Love, which will be the reverse of Hair Love — a mother and a son story. 

Can you tell me a little bit more about Self Love? What’s the core storyline there?

I got to save that for the official announcement. 

I’m not sure how much you can talk about this, but Young Love comes at a strange time for Max, as the streamer was under fire last year for removing a lot of legacy animated shows. Has that impacted the roll-out of Young Love and do you have any concerns about your show being on the streaming platform long-term?

I don’t know how it’ll affect it because we’re still in the middle of it. I think it’s hard everywhere. A lot of the legacy companies and the streamers are having issues with customers, and shows that are beloved and critically acclaimed – and have big fanbases –  are getting canceled. People are making business decisions. I don’t think any company is exempt from that. All you can do is focus on what you can and make a good show, and hope people discover it.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Young Love is currently streaming on Max.


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