At the close of last week’s grown-ish, I worried my girl Zoey Johnson (Yara Shahidi) was about to go all-in on Cash Mooney (Da’Vinchi), an athlete with a genuinely sad history who also admitted to using Zoey for her “good on paper” credentials as a well-off, successful, beautiful young woman of color. Because I too was once an 18-year-old woman, I know the draw of a boy with a sob story and free-wheeling compliments is a powerful, powerful draw. This week, my nightmare came true as “Cashin’ Out” opens with Zoey announcing she is in serious, head-over-heels love was Cash. Oh no. Since no one has given Da’Vinchi a series regular gig yet, we all know this love can’t last, if only because of contract negotiations.
Still, Zoey is blissfully unaware romantic doom is ahead of her, and is instead twirling around Cal U’s campus like she’s an extra in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and losing her marbles over extra pickled cabbage tacos. Someone is, as T-Pain would say, sprung. Eventually, Zoey reveals just how sprung on Cash she is, telling best friend and roommate Ana Torres (Francia Raisa), “We did it.” It’s a nice moment for a laundry list of reasons, my favorites including devout Catholic Ana’s lack of judgement over premarital sex, Zoey’s lack of self-judgement for having sex, and, everyone’s general sex-positivity. Also, there’s the use of the word “pinga,” which a hilarious euphemism for the leading man of the male anatomy.
Despite Zoey’s proclamations that her first pinga won’t change her, the resulting episode proves just how wrong the college freshman is. The next time we see Zoey, she’s backstage at a faux SportsCenter-type show, as Cash is being interviewed by real-life SportsCenter host Cari Champion. While it’s a subtle choice, we should all applaud grown-ish for choosing a young, Black, and female reporter over Freeform sister network ESPN’s many white and-or male anchors because representation matters.
During Cash’s interview, the topic of his inevitable drafting into the NBA comes up, and the athlete announces he’s “not going anywhere” without Miss Zoey Johnson. Well, that’s intense for a couple who’s been together for less time than it takes to binge Game Of Thrones. Zoey recognizes as much, but then begins to soften to the fact Cash essentially proposed to her on live television while the image-obsessed teen wasn’t even wearing makeup. Zoey’s quickly changing emotions are likely due to Cash setting himself and Zoey up as the next Steph and Ayesha Curry, a comparison we all likely clocked when the teen athlete started talking about family-friendly basketball super couple branding last week.
Of course Zoey would want to be the Ayesha to the of the man she just decided she loves’ Steph.
The subsequent conversation with Ana, Vivek Shah (Jordan Buhat), and breakout Nomi Segal (Emily Arlook) is a bummer for anyone who’s rooted for Zoey since the start of black-ish four years ago. No one wants to see the headstrong, hardworking, and ambitious Johson daughter seriously debate leaving her education behind to “follow” some pinga around the country — even if she loves him.
At least we can take solace in the fact Zoey’s topsy-turvy behavior brings Tracee Ellis Ross onto our television screens. Throughout the episode, Zoey ignores countless calls from her mom Rainbow (Ellis Ross), probably because the teen doesn’t know whether or not to tell Bow she’s had sex. So, Bow takes things into her own hands and pops up in Zoey’s dorm room to figure out why the hell her daughter has been ducking her. Zoey eventually breaks and confirms yes, she’s serious about Cash, and yes, she's so serious about him they’ve slept together. In a nice moment, Bow is immediately supportive of her daughter’s new sexual activity, assuring her she’s not mad; the doctor’s only question is, “Did you use protection?” (the answer is “yes”).
To quote Bow, “Nicely done, honey.”
Zoey, now feeling like she can tell her mom anything, reveals she’s considering “following” — ugh, that word! — Cash to whatever city he ends up playing basketball for. Bow is unsurprisingly mad and reams Zoey out for even thinking about dropping everything she’s worked so hard to accomplish or will accomplish with an education. Zoey counters that she’s an adult who can make her own decisions, but, that doesn’t mean Bow has to silently accept every bad decision. I’m reminded of the fact you’re allowed to use your free speech in whatever way you so choose, but will have to deal with the legal consequences no matter what. Bow’s feminist blowup is the mother-daughter equivalent of the handcuffs you get after yelling “Fire!” in a movie theater.
Even with Bow’s big speech, Zoey tell Cash she’s ready to follow him wherever a professional basketball career might take him. He responds with evasions, excuses, and the cold, hard truths of what Zoey’s real life would be if she came along for the ride. When it comes down to it, Cash doesn’t want her locked in the passenger seat just yet. She reacts with the proper level of indignation and throws Cash out of her room. Just like that, Zoey’s first love is over.
- A peeved Nomi brings out a very good point throughout the episode: Zoey is being a terrible friend. Yes, she’s dealing with the quandaries of sex and real love for the first time, but that doesn’t excuse her from straight up ignoring her supposed BFF’s novel-length texts. Zoey doesn’t even know who poor, broken-up-with Big Dave (Barrett Carnahan) is! #TeamNomi.
- The Fosters sisters, Jazz (Chloe Bailey) and Sky (Halle Bailey), continue to be two of the funniest and smartest characters in the grown-ish world. I could watch an entire episode of these two testing out side hustles to avoid Yankee Candle-certified bikini waxes.
This week's Drone Class lesson: No lesson from Charlie this week. Rather, Bow reminded us to always answer our moms’ phone calls, lest we want to find her unexpectedly stewing in our rooms.
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