If you are not watching the show Grown-ish, start now! Actually, start with Black-ish for some context, then quickly binge your way through Grown-ish afterwards. Black-ish, starring Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross, was created by Kenya Barris and airs on ABC. It’s about a black father who is creating a sense of ethnic identify for his children who are sometimes receptive and other times create their own way of navigation. The show is superbly relevant and covers topical issues in a really incredible way. Grown-ish, starring Yara Shahidi, is the extremely relatable spin-off show, in which we follow the oldest daughter, Zoey, through her college endeavors. The show is a very accurate depiction of some of the issues with college, including experimenting with substances, sexuality, and career goals.
Season 2, Episode 5 of Grown-ish is called “Girls Like You”, and aired on 1/22/19. The episode focuses on Zoey’s friend Nomi, who is a bisexual female coming into her own. I relate to Nomi’s character, played by Emily Arlook, not just because she is bisexual, but also because she is a free spirit and is totally imperfect. I also really appreciate the way that the show has depicted her character as truly bisexual, showing her with a variety of people. It’s been really empowering for me to see her with a male interest in one episode, (where they actually explore the unfair stereotypes associated with male bisexuality) and also explore relationships with women later in the season. She’s not seen as “experimenting” or “going through a phase” – *INSERT MY GIANT EYE ROLL HERE* – she’s literally just living. And I’m here for it.
The episode starts out by going through annoying (yet hilarious) roommate habits, including using the bathroom while others are present or passive aggressive Venmo requests. Then we go through something most college roommates experience – hook ups. Except, Nomi’s roommates think that she is having too many, and they are concerned about the way in which she is seducing these women.
Please let me just say – this episode was amazing to watch. I simultaneously wanted to be Nomi but also wanted to go home and spend the night with her. Of course, there was a lot that was exaggerated here as a result of the “player” attitude that the show has given her and the idea that everyone experiments in college. But it also highlighted some really important ideas, stereotypes, and conversations. One of Nomi’s friends gives her a hard time because the way Nomi is acting by hooking up with lots of girls without meaning reminds her friend of typical “dude” behavior. She can relate to the girls on the other end of the hook ups, and as a result, feels some type of way about it.
Zoey follows Nomi out to a bar and sees her interacting with a female interest, and realizes Nomi’s super power. Nomi is able to be charismatic in a way that’s relatable but also attractive, which is totally different than flirting with a guy. In the episode, Nomi is using this idea to seduce straight women into their first lesbian experience, knowing that she isn’t going to call in the morning. Zoey helps her realize that part of the reason that Nomi might be acting this way is because she’s comfortable keeping women at a distance, since she has yet to come out to her very conservative family.
THEN. ENTER SHANE. OH MY GOD. (If you see the picture to the right and you still don’t know what I’m talking about – please hand me your gay card, go binge The L Word on Netflix, and you can have it back when you understand why I am freaking out.) Except, she’s not Shane. She’s Professor Hewson, here to teach Nomi all about being gay!!! HAPPY DAY!!!! (I’m sorry, I’ll calm down – this whole thing just made me so incredibly happy.)
I’d like to just quickly debunk an important myth here – not all straight girls experiment in college. Or in life. If you try to hit on a straight girl, most of the time it’s not going to go your way. Trust me; I’ve been there. I’m not telling you that it’s impossible, and I’m not telling you not to make an attempt. But I am telling you not to go in with the expectations of Nomi’s results.
That being said, I absolutely loved this episode and this show overall. I hope that they can use Nomi’s character to explore what it’s like to come out as a bisexual. I’m hoping that they continue to show Nomi’s progression and experiences as she navigates her way. Also, I certainly hope that Professor Hewson is not going anywhere anytime soon!
“Watch out world, I’m grown now.”
Thanks for reading.