Grown-ish Season 1, Episode 11 Recap: "Safe & Sound"

Look, grown-ish friends, we’ve been doing this recap thing for a while. Eleven weeks, in fact. After 11 weeks, I should be able to be honest with you, so I will be: I have been dreading writing this recap for days because “Safe And Sound" isn’t an easy episode. It’s not even sorta-goofy with how it handles serious topics, as “It’s Hard Out Her For A Pimp” was last week. Because we can all agree Aaron Jackson (Trevor Jackson) feigning interest in Black girl from Denver-by-way-of-Cameroon to convince everyone he isn’t a colourist is the most corny thing ever.
“Safe And Sound” isn’t corny. “Safe And Sound,” my friends, tackles the impossibly difficult question of who deserves a safe space, and, therefore, who actually deserves to be considered a cultural minority. That’s not an easy conversation.
We know it’s not an easy conversation because the moment Aaron and Ana Torres (Francia Raisa) disagree on the topic, people are yelling, feelings are being hurt, and dampers are put on parties.
Aaron and Ana’s disagreement begins during a sign-making bash in the grown-ish crew’s home dorm of Black culture-friendly Hawkins, which Cal U is threatening to shut down once again (this was also the plot of grown-ish’s black-ish back-door pilot last year, but no one really mentions that). The signs are for a protest against such action.
When Ana announces she wishes her “people” also had a safe space to find refuge in, Aaron happily explains exactly what she would need to do to create the kind of change she wants to see in the world. He details all the permits and hashtags and sponsors necessary. Aaron might be a bit of a conceited dummy sometimes, but no one can say he doesn’t know his protest strategy. He finishes off Civil Resistance 101 explaining he’s happy to help the Latina cause, which makes sense. Ana, a proud Cuban-American did say “minorities” like her need a place, too. But, after listening to Aaron’s speech, Ana clarifies she was never talking about Latina safe spaces; Ana was talking about conservative women.
As everyone points out, conservatives aren’t actually a minority. They have ownership of Congress, the White House, and most Cracker Barrels. With 41% of women total voting for Donald Trump — versus 54% of women’s votes going to Hillary — we can say there are fewer conservative women than liberals, but they don’t exactly qualify as a minority. Compare that number to the fact the 2016 census puts the Black population at about 13% of America and the Latinx community at just under 18%.
While this explains why Aaron is so shocked to hear Ana claim conservatives don’t feel safe in the U.S. of A., he doesn’t exactly handle his response very well. He yells at Ana, demeaning her politics before she gets a sentence out, says she believes in idiotic policies, and yells “everyone but her” deserves a safe space. It’s not a good look. In response, Ana claims conservatives are “the most oppressed people on campus,” ignoring the plight of Black people, Jewish people, and her own Latinx community. It’s not a good look, either, and willfully turns a blind eye to many actual harmful conservative policies.
Amid all of this political tension, Zoey Johnson (Yara Shahidi) is in her Black Panthers, But Make It Fashion getup talking about the importance of bouncy houses and the right #Resistance-themed Facebook filter. Do teens even still have Facebook?
Unsurprisingly, a war breaks out on campus between Aaron’s movement (#BDSM, Black Dorms Should Matter, natch) and Ana’s conservative ladies (Safe space for all!). What began as a verbal battle between the two groups escalates when Aaron, yet again, shows a complete lack of tact by repeatedly telling Ana she’s “stupid.” Ana raises the stakes from name-calling to a physical altercation by body checking her friend and trying to rip apart his sign. Soon enough, both sides are brawling, signs in-hand.
With all the safe space chaos engulfing campus, Dean Parker (Saturday Night Live alum Chris Parnell) decides to disband every single safe space on campus, including Hawkins. The LGBTQ+ dorm, the international students dorm, the athletic dorm, and every single other interest-based housing option is also a victim of the fallout. Say goodbye to your comfy, safe space, everyone! While Ana swears she didn’t mean to incite a riot and effectively blow up the entire campus’ housing situation, she side-steps truly dealing with why what she did was wrong. Instead, Ana explains she was exercising her constitutional right to free speech.
This gets Ana to open up to Zoey and explain her grandfather has been in Cuban jail for years because he said “one thing” the Communist government didn’t like. Soon enough, the Florida native is telling Zoey about all of her political beliefs, which include support for LGBTQ+ rights and an understanding of climate change. This is all well and good, but doesn’t exactly make up for the real aftermath of the riot.
Thankfully, Zoey saves the day by convincing Dean Parker her safe space-needing fellow students can actually coexist peacefully. Our happy ending shows Aaron and Ana linking arms, rocking tee shirts with the other’s respective protest hashtag, and flanked by Jazz (Chloe Bailey), Sky (Halle Bailey), and Nomi (Emily Arlook), all with their own pro-harmony tee slogans.
Hawkins lives!
Extra Credit
- Despite the fact Aaron dismissively called Zoey “a shallow girl from Sherman Oaks,” grown-ish still wants us to believe these two could work out. Take that episode-ending shot of them out on a date-not-date as evidence. I guess it’s good Aaron apologised for totally dismissing our girl?
This week's Drone Class lesson: No Drones class, but Charlie does teach us if you’re going to sign a self-obsessed revolutionary’s $1 million liability insurance claim, it’s best to also be legally dead. Just in case a riot breaks out (which it definitely, definitely will). No one can actually hold a legal ghost liable.
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