In the Grown-ish season one finale, Zoey (Yara Shahidi) has to decide which of her three admirers to date. “College is about figuring out who you are,” she muses at the top of the show. Who you choose to date can feel as central to a sense of identity as the choices you make about your career or where you make your home. When we last saw Zoey, she was shocked to see Cash Mooney (da’Vinchy) — a star basketball player she shared her first sexual experience with earlier this year — standing outside her door. Earlier that night, both Aaron (Trevor Jackson) and even ever-elusive Luca (Luka Sabbat) had put their cards on the table about their feelings for Zoey. “There are worse things in the world than having to choose between two guys,” Zoey admits, but that doesn’t make the decision any easier.
Zoey’s friends determine the best way to decide between the guys is a game of f*ck, marry, kill. For anyone unfamiliar with the game, a person takes three people — usually, a mix of random celebrities, friends, and acquaintances — and has to pick one to marry, one to kill, and one toa well, the title speaks for itself. The girls skip drone class to decide on a guy for Zoey, leaving all three dudes in question sitting together in marketing class. Charlie (Deon Cole) is struggling to turn a movie about Pablo Escobar into a lesson in branding after the Dean (Chris Parnell) has unexpectedly shown up to observe.
Fortunately, Vivek (Jordan Buhat) has deep insight into the non-existent lesson plan and manages to make Charlie look like a pretty decent professor after all. A heated class discussion takes places, where through the metaphor of Pablo Escobar, cocaine, and other dealers the boys start to fight over Zoey. Luca thinks Zoey should make the decision all on her own, but Aaron wants to fight for her affection. Cash has to be her first love on his side and has the upper-hand due to that and his celebrity status.
Back at the dorms, the girls are still each advocating for their choice of guys for Zoey. Nomi, notoriously the voice of wisdom on this show, argues for Luca. “He’s the one guy you haven’t had to change yourself for,” she reminds Zoey. The others in the group, however, remind her that Luca’s fashion choices can be challenging and non-binary, “Doesn’t he wear eyeshadow sometimes?” It’s disappointing for show that is almost always so progressive to be so narrow-minded about gendered fashion choices. “Luca and Aaron can go f*ck each other for all I care,” Sky (Halle Bailey) argues, “the boy’s name is literally CASH.” She goes on to tell Zoey that Cash is willing to stay at school rather than go pro for her. Anna (Francia Raisa), despite her serious conflicts with him earlier this season is Team Aaron. She reveals that Aaron is willing to sell all the microwaves at Hawkins to pay for Hamilton tickets to surprise Zoey.
Zoey’s friends are ultimately no help in making her decision, so she takes a walk around campus, reminiscing about her life-shaping experiences over the course of the year with each of the guys. She wonders if there is a right decision, before making one. Zoey resolves that trying to predict the future, or guess which guy she’d be happiest with later down the line is not the right way to go about this. “The only way to make the decision was based on who I was at that very moment,” she concludes, before showing up at Luca’s door. It turns out her choice was a good one — Luca has created an abstract and beautiful painting of her. In his esoteric way, Luca has demonstrated that he is the one who sees Zoey as she is.
Maybe with the boy drama finally wrapped up, Grown-ish‘s second season can focus more on Zoey’s studies — it’s unclear what classes Zoey is taking, or even what semester it is. This is a program that has shown in its inaugural season a deft ability to navigate challenging topics when it allows itself to go beyond the typical soapy teen vernacular. Like its parent show Black-ish, Grown-ish will succeed and stand out because it transcends its genre and speaks in a unique voice to the questions and concerns of its specific place in the contemporary zeitgeist.
Grown-ish received an early renewal for its second season after debuting as the highest-rated comedy on Freeform in six years. The 20 episode second season order is expected to begin production later this year.
In case you missed it, read the previous episode review here.
Photo and video credit: Freeform