Freeform's Grown-ish season 1 ended with a twist very few fans could have seen coming: Leading lady Zoey Johnson (Yara Shahidi) chose unexpected bae Luca Hall (Luka Sabbat, rumored real-life Kourtney Kardashian on-again, off-again love interest) over longtime crush Aaron Jackson (Trevor Jackson). Zoey’s first love Cash Mooney (Da'Vinchi) was also left in Luca’s pot-smoking, fashion-making dust.
With Wednesday night’s two-part Grown-ish season 2 premiere, we got to see exactly how Zoey’s surprise romantic decision pans out. It leaves us wondering if the battle for the newly minted college sophomore’s heart isn’t over after all.
Much of the official season 2 opener, “Better,” revolves around Zoey’s excitement over Luca’s imminent return from spending all of summer vacation in Paris. At this point, 99% of the teens' three-month relationship has been long distance. By the midpoint of “Better,” Zoey learns Luca is already on campus — he just didn’t tell her. No phone call, no text, no Snapchat chat. When Zoey goes to confront him, Luca barely sees why his actions are disappointing. Then he falls asleep on her, but not before proving he’s far more interested in smoking something than kissing the girlfriend he hasn’t seen since May.
No wonder Zoey returns home screaming about unsatisfying chips. In follow-up episode “Nothing Was The Same,” Zoey and Luca’s relationship seems even more unfulfilling. There are surface issues like Luca’s disinterest in taking photos with Zoey or cuddling with her at movie nights in a cute enough manner (or even touching her, honestly). But the issues are deeper than that. Luca is speaking to Zoey so rarely, he “forgot” to tell his girlfriend he dropped the one class they planned to share. He even drags Zoey for wanting to seem like “couple goals” to the outside world.
That last request may appear shallow, yet it also speaks to what Zoey is looking for in a relationship. She wants to be with someone who increases her shine and looks like they want to be around her in the most basic sense. Not a man who will cover his face in every selfie she attempts to take with him. It’s a very sensible dream to have and one Luca should be open to.
Thankfully, “Nothing” wraps with Luca finally starting to understand Zoey’s outlook on love. This is where Grown-ish claims the problem isn’t Luca’s apathy towards boyfriendhood — it’s that he and Zoey simply needed time to gel after months apart. Zoey uses Snapchat, the app that kept her relationship going when it was transcontinental, to remind Luca how well they can work. By the end of the episode, both halves of the couple are admitting they care enough about the relationship that they’re “scared” of ruining it. It’s a smart and realistic depiction of the trials and tribulations of long distance dating.
However, Luca isn’t the one who helped Zoey figure out what was wrong in the first place. That honor goes to Aaron, who looks physically pained every single time he’s reminded of Zoey’s current relationship. Despite that sad fact, the Cal U junior is still the one who talks through Zoey’s problems to find a way to make her happy. As we see in “Better,” he’s also the one who went to her clean up party and made sure to actually ask her to spend time with him. When Zoey leaves said party to figure out why Luca kept his return a secret, it’s Aaron who makes sure everyone continues fixing up his friend’s trashed apartment.
Zoey might joke that she “made the right choice” in picking Luca over Aaron, but it seems like only one of these two men are seriously invested in her emotional well-being. Sadly that person isn’t Zoey’s boyfriend. At least we’ll have the rest of Grown-ish season 2 to see if that little problem can change.