Wednesday, January 16, 2019

REVIEW: 'Grown-ish' - A Thoughtful Conversation Inspires Zoey to Make a Huge Decision About Her College Future in 'In My Feelings'

Freeform's Grown-ish - Episode 2.04 "In My Feelings"

While waiting for the mysterious drop of a modern-day musical genius, the gang debates what really makes a person "genius."

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. Premieres and finales may feature longer reviews. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Freeform's Grown-ish.

"In My Feelings" was written by Crystal Jenkins and directed by Sam Bailey

This episode succeeds because it channels an important and unique discussion while focusing it on a significant decision that the main character has to make. Black-ish has always succeeded when it has delved into topical episodes. Those episodes thrive from having a stirring conversation about a socially relevant topic. The original show just did one of those this week with an entire episode about colorism which was executed phenomenally well. And now, Grown-ish proves that it is a solid and worthy spinoff because it too is having powerful conversations that impact the world while hold personal significance for the characters. The college students are having an abstract conversation about what makes a person a genius. Nomi is absolutely right to say that it is a word that has been used too much to describe someone in the modern world. If anyone does anything inventive or weird, then they get the label of genius. That appears to be what this episode is suggesting. It's also keeping things largely focused on the music side of things. Everyone on campus is waiting for this secret music video to drop at midnight. They have no idea who the artist is. That's what starts this entire conversation. Some argue that the fact that this person has provoked this conversation already proves that they are a genius no matter what the final product ends up being. It's also so powerful that the show actually depicts what was being released too. It could have just bypassed that entire reveal because Zoey is too deep in her own feelings and misses it when it actually drops. It doesn't lesson the power to see the video afterwards either. In fact, it's a very stirring music video that once again proves the power of visuals when it comes to music. This is an artist with something to say and it will more than likely only stir up more conversation over whether or not she succeeded in her mission. It's also very poignant that it is a female artist at the center of the video. Sure, her face is still masked. But that's enough to subvert everyone's expectations. Zoey rightfully calls out everyone at the drop party for only thinking of men as musical geniuses. She sees Beyonc√© as just as deserving of that title. In fact, she may earn it much more than some of the other artists on the list. The men in the room are incredibly dismissive of that suggestion which further proves that there is an element of sexism in this conversation. Men and women aren't given equal treatment when it comes to the debate over who reinvents the world with what they say and do. That's only one aspect of this conversation though. The show is also keenly aware that an artist being given the genius label doesn't mean they can suddenly do whatever they want with no repercussions. Kanye West may have once been seen as a genius. After two failed albums and his political views though, it's enough for his community to turn against him as someone who can add something meaningful to the conversation.

But again, it's much more powerful to see all of this through the context of Zoey's personal dilemma. She is still in the middle of a fight with Jazz. It all ultimately revolves around Zoey being too self-centered. Everything that happens around her has to be about her. That can be a character flaw for her. It proves that she isn't perfect. She is still a young adult making plenty of mistakes. However, she is incredibly insecure because her entire life has been dictated by the validation of others. She has always been the star child and student. She is no longer in her comfort zone though. She no longer has that support system that lifts her up constantly. That may not have been preparing her for the real world. Now, her friends are the ones trying to help her in any given situation. Nomi and Ana may just be coddling her though. Jazz tells her exactly what she thinks about her. In turn, that sparks a huge confession about Zoey always feeling like her work is never good enough. She has had a passion for fashion her entire life. She came to school with a clear focus on what she wanted to do with her life. She is in a relationship with a man who completely understands and supports her. But she feels insecure because of the amount of pressure she has put on herself to succeed. None of this is easy for her. She sees it as happening so flawlessly and effortlessly for her friends as well. Luca is thriving in this world as a fashion student. Jazz and Sky are still track stars. Zoey has the skills to succeed in this environment. However, she is really struggling when it comes to her mental health. This pressure may not be healthy for her after all. As such, she has to make that determination over whether this is the correct path for her. That's such a surprising move. It means that she is in her second year of college with no idea what she's going to do. She only drops one class here. This may represent a chance for her to explore and hopefully find something she can be just as passionate about. But it also creates a sense of uncertainty for the future. This pressure won't be going away anytime soon even though Zoey believes she has alleviated some of it with this decision. She has the support of her friends. But it will remain fascinating how all of this continues to be handled this year as she strives for that path that can truly excite and invigorate her. She wants to feel like a genius. She has the potential for that too.