Adulting on Hard Mode
Everyone remembers their first love, and usually with equal sharpness, their first heartbreak. In “Cashing Out”, Zoey (Yara Shahidi) and Cash (Da’Vinchi) put their relationship in the fast lane when Zoey accompanies Cash to a live interview. She’s picked out his outfit, coached his answers, and taking credit for thinking of everything. But she couldn’t anticipate that Cash would say (on national TV) that he wasn’t going anywhere or doing anything without Zoey Johnson by his side. Zoey isn’t thrilled about it and not just because she’s gone full “Alicia Keys” that day — aka no makeup. Is she ready at 18 to become a basketball wife?
Don’t Chase the Pinga
There is tricky territory to be covered in the first year of college. For most American teens who have been treated like children and given very little decision-making authority for the first 18 years of their lives, college away from home is the first time they are asked to test their ability to make the right choices. Having practiced so little, it’s daunting and difficult to know how to do the right thing. Add to that the cocktail of hormones and feelings that come from your first time, and Zoey’s in a tough spot. Zoey wonders about her dreams, and if they will take a backseat to Cash’s. The draft is in six months. Can Zoey really leave school to follow a guy? The decision is all hers, and it’s a scary one to make.
Zoey turns to her friends for advice, who are willing as ever to lend an ear and silly commentary, except for Nomi (Emily Arlook) who calls out Zoey for being self absorbed. “I thought being in love was going to make all my problems easier!” Zoey naively laments.
Meanwhile, the twins (Chloe and Halle Bailey) are still having money problems. The issue of how keep cash in your pocket while at college has come up a couple times so far this season, and the solutions so far have been dealing drugs and mooching off your friends. Since Jazz and Sky don’t have money for waxing or nails, and they don’t have time for jobs, they establish a side hustle selling off the free track gear the university gives them. Dean Parker (Chris Parnell) eventually brings down the hammer when he finds out, punishing them with 100 hours of community service that he is confusingly also paying them to do.
Rainbow Johnson Makes a Cameo
Zoey’s mom Rainbow Johnson (Tracee Ellis Ross) has been blowing up Zoey’s phone this whole episode, finally checking in on her daughter with a surprise visit. Rainbow is her trademark mixture of shocked and touched when Zoey admits she’s in love with Cash. Always the vigilant and overbearing mother/doctor, Rainbow congratulates her daughter on using protection — how embarrassing — and confirms it was, in fact, Zoey’s first time. Rainbow is proud of her daughter for being responsible until Zoey reveals that Cash wants Zoey to leave college with him after the draft. “You worked so hard to get in here” Rainbow yells, “are you really going to throw it away for some guy?”
Grown-ish doesn’t shy away from the realities of how difficult this decision feels. Zoey still wants desperately to pursue her own dreams, and Rainbow asks, “so why are you letting this guy get in front of them?” Zoey admits she doesn’t know what she’s doing, or what she wants to do. She’s being asked to make adult decisions with very limited adult experience. It feels impossible. It’s the inherent mixed message our culture sends about romantic love. Sometimes the right thing to do, according to popular movies and books, is drop everything for the person you love. Other times the girl who lets her life fall apart over a lover is a fool. While Rainbow isn’t always a perfect mother — as Zoey is quick to point out in this scene — Rainbow doesn’t force a decision on her daughter. This is a choice Zoey must make on her own.
Nevertheless, later that night Zoey tells Cash she had made a decision, and she wants to go with him when he gets drafted. This time it’s Cash who gets cold feet and leaves Zoey devastated that he can’t stand behind his earlier promises. Cash is being cavalier about his future with Zoey, and Zoey decides her future isn’t worth sacrificing for a guy who pours his heart out on national TV one day and equivocates the next.
Nomi stops by to borrow clothes and drops the icy attitude when she sees her BFF sobbing on the bed. “This love shit, it hurts,” Nomi offers in solace. Once again the moral of the episode is that your friends will stand by you, even when your love interest goes AWOL.
Grown-ish, a Black-ish spinoff continues its 13 episode season Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC Freeform.
In case you missed it, read the previous episode review here.
Photo and video credit: Freeform
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