“Grown-ish” Recap S2, Ep 4: Genius … or Nah?

What went down on the latest episode of grown-ish? Get all the tea with Sesi‘s weekly recaps.

By Andréa Butler

Nope, it’s not a PowerPoint slide for you next vocab quiz, but you will need to know the following definition to rock with this episode — or at least debate the meaning throughout:


As Zoey explains in her opening voiceover, “genius” has become a term doled out on the regs now — bestowed upon people, such as Oprah, Beyoncé, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk, for example. Have these people done amazing things? No doubt. But are they legit genius-level, though?

A “genius” most recently added to the list in their world is a recording artist who just dropped the first-ever anonymous digital track. Everyone’s talking about it, and “anyone who could stop the world and get a campus full of Gen Z-ers to focus on one thing while remaining unknown was probably on some genius vibes,” Zo says.

Cut to Zoey hard at work on a garment for class, considering her own genius vibes and convincing herself that this dress can’t just earn her a good grade — it’s got to change the game. (So extra, Zoey. How about slow your roll a sec and just focus on working toward eventual domination. As they say, Bey wasn’t built in a day.) Clearly not feelin’ what she’s designed so far, Zo rips her work off the mannequin in a frenzy to start all over again.

Meanwhile, the rest of Zoey’s crew is kickin’ it at her crib before heading over to Hawkins to see the streaming reveal of that unknown musician. Glued to their phones watching the current stream of the track play, they all hear a bird call, and Sky and Ana immediately call it as a sign that Drizzy is behind the drop.


Always ready with a rebuttal, Nomi chimes in about how even guessing is ridic because all they have to go on is a video of a beach. “You’re essentially just watching, really, a Windows ’98 screensaver,” she says. LOLOLOLOLOL

And here’s where the “genius” talk picks back on up again.

We leave the squad to deliberate on the merits — or lack thereof — of Drake and catch up with Zoey still working in the design lab, scraps of fabric and sketch paper litter the floor around her. She is not inspired, and she keeps getting distracted by texts from her friends about the impending drop. Might as well take a brain break and hope for a stroke of inspo, right?

Elsewhere, Doug and Vivek are helping set things up for the reveal party at Hawkins. Well, Vivek’s helping. Doug’s just chillin’, playing a video game. Aaron enters and he is not happy at the state of things. The party kicks off in exactly 30 minutes and this is all that’s done so far: pizzas have arrived, a random piñata has been hung, and Vivek is attempting to put together a Betting Board, so everyone can make guesses on who they think “anonymous” is. Doug’s not trippin’ though: “I’ma pray for y’all,” he says. “Won’t he do it?!”

Back at Zoey, Ana, and Nomi’s place, the debating continues. They’ve moved on from Drake, and now, Luca and Jazz are embroiled in a discussion over Kanye West. Jazz is team Old Kanye and Luca still loves dude despite all his “unpopular opinions.” (No lie, we miss “All Falls Down” Kanye with a passion.) In comes Zoey and she immediately backs up her man. Jazz threatens to @ her to Black Twitter. Zoey keeps going in, though. “I do believe the art should be separate from the artist,” she says. Noooooo, Zoey, nooooo. All we can think of right now is all those R. Kelly apologists who use the same argument.

Jazz’s clapback is swift, “Like how Kanye separated himself from his community and then turned his back on the people who actually made him?” Cue montage of Kanye donning a MAGA cap and hugging Mango Mussolini. Jazz continues, “But I guess you’re used to that because you’re also known to turn your back on people.”

Shots. Fired.

Seems like ya’ girl is still on that drama from an episode gone by. Let it go, girl. Let. It. Go. Also, how’s Luca just gonna sit there and let someone rain a full-on eclipse, as Zoey calls it, on her. Where was her back up? Zoey asks if she can speak to Jazz alone for a sec, to which Jazz rolls her eyes, but obliges.


Out on the patio, Zoey says she gets that Jazz is still mad at her for not telling her that Doug was at the kickback two weeks ago, but she’s already apologized so many times and is not sure what else she can do. Sarcastically, Jazz tells her there’s nothing else Zoey can do and that she’s completely over it, anyway. Zoey confirms they’re all good and Jazz is like, “We’re Gucci”, just as she spits out her gum right in Zoey’s drink! And that ends that chat.

Inside, the “genius” debate rages on with Luca inventing yet another method for determining if art is genius or not: Art that is confusing is obvi genius. “Confusion pushes the conversation forward and makes us think,” he says. Baby Basquiat’s got that “I’ma be contrary to everything for the sake of being contrary to everything” thing on lock. Zo takes a seat next to Luca and declares she’s siding with bae, as she stares Jazz down. Jazz:


Breaking the tension a little, Nomi interjects: By calling virtually everyone a “genius” you’re taking away the real honor and truth of what actually being a genius is, she explains. (Hold up. Anyone else notice how Nomi is the rational center of the group tonight?) But Zoey says she thinks we’re all geniuses in our own ways and Ana cosigns that. Dishing out a dose of reality, Nomi makes it clear that none of them are geniuses in that room — except, maybe, Luca. Why? Fashion design comes so easy to him, while Zo stays struggling, for example. “All the offense taken,” Z says to the camera. And if you’re thinking this is just the beginning of Zoey’s downward doubt cycle of the night, you are correct.

Finally, we’re at the “genius” reveal party over at Hawkins, but instead of having a good time with her crew, Z is lost in thought — #verybothered about Nomi not considering her a genius. Spotting her troubled look, Luca checks on his bae and she claims she’s fine. He bounces real quick to get his food delivery and then there’s some action on the stream — a unicorn appears. Aaron proclaims this to be “Black excellence” and Vivek questions that. Doug’s like, my guy, “Every new wave of artistry that shakes up culture is always started by a Black person. We innovate, not appropriate.” We are not mad at that. Vivek thinks the artist could be someone who transcends race, culture, and all that. We could get behind that, too, until he says that someone is Justin Bieber.

Over on the couch, Zoey is realizing the Betting Board is “hella problematic” because there’s not one woman on the list. “Not even Beyoncé, and she is for sure, a genius,” she says. Aaron all the way disagrees. He says Bey is hardworking and an amazing entertainer, of course, but hardly a “genius.” Ana is triggered by this. We are, too, tbh.


And then, Zoey takes it there. At first, it seems she’s going all in on why it is that Bey can put in all this work and not be considered a “genius” but her dude can stroll in all chill-like and get that label stat. The room reads what it really is — Zoey upset her own dude got that label and she didn’t. Nomi calls her out just as Luca comes back on the scene, and finally, Zoey admits it out loud. Her problem isn’t that Luca is thought of as a genius; it’s that she isn’t. Awwwwkkk-waaaarrrddd.

Luca takes Zo outside to talk, and she confides in him that the “genius” snub really hit her hard in her insecurities. She was used to being the best at everything before coming to college. (Real talk, though: On black-ish, Zoey was never considered the greatest student. In fact, she was known for not doing the most, and her fam wasn’t even sure she’d get accepted to her top schools. Color us confused.) Anyway, back to the story.


Luca is really good at building up his boo when she needs it. Guess we can forgive him for not dipping in the Zoey-Jazz drama earlier. He goes on to tell Z that his light doesn’t need to dim hers. After a few minutes, the couple gets ready to head back inside for the reveal, only to hear loud cheers signaling they’re too late. And now, Zoey’s upset they missed everything because of her.

Pouting back in the party room, Zoey is approached by Nomi and Ana, and they let her know they think she’s talented, too. Nomi reminds Zo that college is all about learning to be amazing, not being amazing before you even get there. Ana tells Zoey not to be so hard on herself. Jazz is having none of it, though, and gets all up in the mix. “Stop coddling her,” she says. “Maybe she doesn’t have what it takes.”

Completely fed up with Jazz, Zoey confronts her about what her problem is now and Jazz is real blunt with it: “You.” She’s not only still mad about the whole kickback situation; she’s also tired of Zoey always making everything such a big deal and always being worried about what other people think of her. An ongoing theme. Jazz asks, “Do you think you’re talented? Do you think you’re a great designer?” Zoey admits she isn’t even sure and not being called a “genius” that night just confirmed all her self-doubts. In fact, she’s not even sure fashion design is the right life path for her anymore.

Zoey dips from the party to finish her dress in the design lab. “Honestly, I think my dress turned out pretty good,” she tells us in her voiceover the next day. “But the thing I realized was, designing from scratch was something I thought I wanted to do my whole life. But what it really was, was something I never wanted to do ever again.”

See, college isn’t just about learning to be good enough. It’s also about learning what it is you really want to do and be on this Earthly journey. And that’s real.

Catch up on the episodes you’ve missed here.

subscribe to sesi banner featuring Lyric Ross cover

Quarterly print teen magazine for Black girls ages 13 to 19. Covering The Black Girl's Mainstream™