Friends, do you feel like grown-ish got a bit… heavy for a minute? That’s technically a good thing, since Gen Z deserves honest, relevant content as much as the next generation — but this is a comedy, after all. It’s a little bit hard to laugh when we’re dealing with the very serious topics of marginalization, racism, and colorism.
That’s why “Crew Love” is a much-needed palate cleanser of a fun episode. From the jump we know to expect a treat as Zoey Johnson (Yara Shahidi) kicks off the installment with a lengthy voiceover on why young people find emotional honesty to be such a hurdle. In a perfect move, Zoey’s Drake-y treatise is backed by none other than Champagne Papi himself, as one of his most emotional soft boi tracks, Take Care’s “Doing It Wrong,” plays in the background. For the record, the episode’s title, “Crew Love,” is the name of another Take Care bop.
Before this turns into a 1,000 word dissection of my favorite Drake album — The Weeknd wrote at least five songs on it! — let’s get back to the grown-ish action. Zoey is all in her feelings because she is legitimately into both woke bae Aaron Jackson (Trevor Jackson) and art bae Luca Hall (Luka Sabbat). That “Doing It Wrong” montage proves both guys are equally interested in our heroine, even when she's macking on their respective romantic rival. When Zoey slow dances with Luca, Aaron hangs his head at the bar. When Aaron spins Zoey around on the dance floor, Luca glowers in the corner with a bottle of champagne.
While we’ve only got glimpses of both rekindled romances over the last two weeks, things have apparently blossomed into a full-blown flirtationships for Zoca and Zoron off-screen. When Zoey sees pal Jazz Forster (Chloe Bailey) is officially calling Doug From “It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp” (Diggy Simmons, son of Rev. Run Simmons) her boyfriend, the oldest Johnson daughter is automatically jealous. Zoey is more entranced by the green-eyed monster when Jazz explains the legitimately hilarious way she defined the relationship with Doug: pooping.
After a hookup at Doug’s dorm, nature called and Jazz answered in a way that took a noticeable amount of time. Upon realizing Jazz did the most private thing possible in his space, Doug simply asks, “So… are we together now?” The answer was yes and the next time Jazz slept over, baby wipes were waiting for her. Zoey immediately wishes she had a similarly settled love life, despite the chaos that was the After Cash period.
So, the rest of the episode follows Zoey in her quest to get romantic clarity from either man in her orbit. Luca seems to be in the lead after the fashionisto offers to hand-make Zoey a dress for the upcoming freshman formal with the promise, “We’re going to shut that formal down.” How romantic!
Aaron, on the other hand, is just as hot-and-cold as usual. First he calls Zoey “his girl” to a video game friend. But, when a friend approaches their hangout session, Aaron goes and introduces Zoey as “the homie.” How not romantic!
Now that Zoey believes she knows where both baes stand, she’s hopeful about a future with Luca, who’s going to the trouble of making her dress. And, when she slips it on, he gushes about how beautiful she is. Just when it looks like Luca is going in for the kiss… he swerves to a very French cheek smooch and announces he’s not going to the dance. In fact, he was never going to the dance because it’s lame. Zoey is crushed and says as much. Now, nothing is romantic.
At least this leaves Zoey free to go to the dance with her girls, giving us a great shot of Zoey, Jazz, Sky (Halle Bailey), Nomi (Emily Arlook), and Ana (Francia Raisa), walking in their personality-appropriate formal wear like the cast of Sex And The City Jr.
But, romantic sitcom shenanigans wait for for no well-dressed pack of young women, so before Zoey can even break it down to “One Dance,” Aaron arrives to ask she come outside and hear about all of his feelings. Of course, Zoey obliges and Aaron reveals he “like-likes her” because we are now all in seventh grade. Once Aaron stops acting like a 12-year-old afraid of cooties, he admits he doesn’t see Zoey as a “homie” and has been crazy since the day he met her (it is unclear if this is because she looks like his mom). That’s why he’s ready to go official if she is, and to prove it, he kisses her.
Just as Zoey is processing all of this information, she turns around to see a crestfallen Luca, in a formal-ready suit, holding flowers for her. The ultra-hip, dance-hating teen put away his ultra-hip, dance-hating teenage sensibilities for her. Unsurprisingly, Luca is crushed to see Zoey making out with another guy. Despite all the drama, Luca still confirms he’s interested in Zoey.
Now, as we head into the grown-ish season 1 finale next week, it’s time for Zoey to decide which guy she actually wants to be with, which Nomi points out is the way this story always had to end. Oh, and did we mention Cash Mooney (Da’Vinchi) is back? Get ready for a wild close to a very good freshman year.
- There’s an entire subplot about Ana realizing she's the only person in her friend group who hasn't kissed a girl. By the end of the episode, Nomi gives her panicked drunk friend a very sweet, placating kiss. But, the most important beat here is the reminder not to objectify the sexuality of bi people for your own whims.
- This installment marks the second time a grown-ish episode title makes a respective nod to both The Weeknd, who co-wrote “Crew Love” and is featured on the track, and Drake, who technically has ownership of the song. Previous grown-ish references to the Toronto hip-hop giants are “Starboy,” which is also a single-slash-album you may have heard of by The Weeknd, and “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late,” which is also the name of a Drake mixtape.
- I hope everyone noticed that, for a few seconds, the cold open devolves into one of those fan-made lyrics videos we all had to deal with on YouTube before Spotify was a thing.
This week's Drone Class lesson: No Drone Class, because I legitimately believe there are no classes at Cal U other than Zoe And Luca Stare At A Mannequin 101. That would explain why Luca truly doesn’t know who Nomi, who sits next to him in so-called “Drone Class,” is, at all. But, Professor Charlie (Deon Cole) does show up to deejay the formal and move his Daewoo from the Food For Less parking lot.
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