Grown-ish Episode Three: Tiny Text Bubbles, Big Text Troubles

Zoey Sends Some Risky Texts, We All Get Some Mixed Messages

The third episode of “Grown-ish” tackles relationships and communication in the emojis age. In “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late” Zoey Johnson (Yara Shahidi) examines how her relationship to technology affects her relationships to the guys she’s dating. A phone that can edit faces out of pictures and even track your side piece’s location should make juggling two guys easier than ever, right? But for a smartphone generation with more access to each other than ever before, Zoey and her college hookups are pretty bad at communicating with each other.

The True Meaning of “Hooking Up”

The language of “hooking up” is emoji symbols and three letters: “u up?” They don’t even share a common vernacular — what exactly does “hooking up” even mean? And the pervasive technology that makes anyone reachable at any moment can be both enticing and insidious. Zoey has a text meltdown far exceeding the dreaded double text with her crush, Aaron (Trevor Jackson). The distance that digital communication affords Zoey allows her to be more open with her crush than she would face-to-face, but it is also her downfall. The screen provides a false sense of “safety” to share her thoughts when there’s not another person physically in front of her to physically or verbally shut down her increasingly crazy messages. This cringe-worthy escalation felt way too real.

Zoey Johnson (Yara Shahidi)
Zoey Johnson (Yara Shahidi)

Ultimately, a chance heart-to-heart with the Dean (Chris Parnell) reminds Zoey that communication isn’t just about frequency or accessibility — it’s about content. Although does anyone besides Zoey Johnson have a college Dean with the time and wherewithal to talk to students about their relationship drama?

For all this episode had to say about the ways Millennials communicate, the message of the show itself got a little lost. This episode felt disconnected to the first two — it didn’t address the Adderall cliffhanger that episode two left viewers dangling from. And it introduced Luca(Luka Sabbat) as a romantic interest, even though Zoey had more of a bestie vibe with him in previous episodes. The episode opened with Zoey and Aaron making out at a party, but aside from a few short clips, we don’t really get to see the Zoey/Aaron relationship form. Maybe there isn’t one. What exactly does hooking up mean?

Grown-ish, a Black-ish spinoff continues its 13 episode season Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC Freeform.

In case you missed it, read the previous episode review here.

Photo and video credit: ABC

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