“Grown-ish” Recap S2, Ep 9: Art is in the Eye of the Beholder

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

By Andréa Butler

It’s the day of the Cal U Art Fest, and Zoey an’ ’em are there to support Luca. Flawless cornrows and #ootd on lock, Zo breaks her first third wall of the night to brag on her boo a lil’ bit. Well, until she sees a painting of a woman lying in bed — and it’s not her. Attempting to make the situation better, Ana tells Zoey it’s probably just Luca’s cousin, but Luca doesn’t even think twice before responding, “No, no. That’s my ex-girlfriend.”

As Zoey stands there, shook, and Aaron “admires the composition” of the painting, Luca joins the crew, putting his arm around his girl as if nothing just happened. Not here for him at all right now, she immediately pushes his arm away. “Is there something wrong?” Luca asks. No, Luca. There’s nothing wrong at all. It’s perfectly cool that you took Zoey off guard, in front of her friends, too, with a very intimate portrait of your ex. (This dude.)


Nomi takes this sudden escalation in tension to peace out — she wants to hit up a queer art exhibit, anyway. Ana and Aaron dip, too, with Ana requesting updates on the current predicament every five minutes. Finally left alone in front of the painting, Zoey sarcastically “compliments” Luca’s work. Her main issue is as we thought: How’s he not gonna at least give her a head’s up? It feels like we’ve said this before because we have, but Luca doesn’t care what most people think about pretty much anything, so a head’s up probably didn’t even cross his mind. On the other hand, we’re gonna need him to realize things do bother Zoey — lots of things — and he has got to take those things into consideration.

Luca goes on to explain the reason he’s never talked about his ex is because she’s his past, to which Zoey’s basically like, except right now in this present moment when I have to look at her in this public space. “Ok, well, this is Juliet, my ex-girlfriend who means nothing,” Luca says. “You’re Zoey, my present girlfriend, and you mean everything.”

Meanwhile, Aaron and Ana are strolling around a nearby food court, and Aaron’s attempting to fill their silence with a discussion on hot dogs. Annoyed, Ana turns to him to make him stop, and also apologizes that she’s been avoiding him lately. She got a little freaked out when Luca saw them together at the apartment, and she’s still trying to keep whatever it is they have going on on the low. Ana is not about to have Zoey find out, since she had that whole love triangle thing going on last year, and Aaron was one of the guys she was into. Ana even suggests she and Aaron go back to being just friends, and he says that’s cool. But we all know that’s not about to happen.

Over at Titanium, Nomi is ready for the queer performance art event that her “gay-ru” (what she calls her “gay guru”) suggested she attend to connect with other LGBT+ students on campus. She grabs a gender identity pin to wear and takes a seat. Next to the stage, a young woman who’ll share her coming out story in song. Instead of singing any kind of melodic tune, though, she really just screams words at the top of her lungs into the mic. (What is she even holding that flute for?) The crowd is here for it. Nomi just looks uncomfortable.


Back at Luca’s side of the Art Fest, Zoey gets a text from Instigator Ana asking what’s good. Zoey says she and Luca are cool now, that the painting is just art. Having none of that, Ana wants to initiate a full-on cyber stalking situation. Zoey turns her down, and we feel proud of her #growth. A few episodes ago, she would have already scoped the ex’s social media, found out where she lives, gotten her number, and followed her a few places just to make sure she wasn’t re-checking for Luca. (And who can forget that whole text spiral Zoey went down with Aaron in the 1-8?)

But then, staring at that painting again, Zoey notices something she’d missed before. A tattoo. The very same tattoo Luca has. New mood: Commence that deep dive, sis.

At first, when Ana sees it’s Zoey calling, she thinks she and Aaron have been found out, but she gets no more than a, “Heeeeyyy!” out before Zoey goes in. Ana snaps into deep-dive mode with a quickness — Bluetooth earpiece and all! Mission one? Find out if the ex and Luca still follow each other on Insta, like each other’s posts, comment on each other’s pics, and like each other’s comments. Ya’ girl even gives Zoey the deets on her burner IG account, so she can peep the ex’s Insta Story anonymously.


Leaving Zoey to her case of the ex, we check back in with Nomi. The screaming girl is still screaming, so Nomi bounces.

Speaking of bouncing, we’re back with the A-Team (Aaron and Ana), and Aaron asks Ana if she did that stalker thing with him. She says, no. “Good, ’cause that’s a little crazy,” he says. The only reason girls get “crazy”, explains Ana, is that guys get all secretive and refuse to share their pasts. Using this as a flirtable moment, Aaron reaches over to wipe some mustard from Ana’s face and says, “Why don’t you school me on the ways of a woman?” She almost gets caught up, but snaps out of it, and the two get into a discussion on whether or not, in a relationship, someone’s past is the other person’s business. It ends with Ana storming off.

Cut to Zoey telling us all about her recent findings. She’s hit up Juliet’s profiles on every major social channel — even peeped her parents’ Facebook profiles! And as she’s boasting about the significance of a certain photo of Luca on his IG, she accidentally likes it. And it’s a pic from two years ago! Classic mistake.


In a panic, she unlikes the photo, then convinces herself that’ll look weird, so she likes it again. Might as well like ALL THE PHOTOS now. Luca, probably alerted to a mili phone notifications, finds Zoey sitting at a table outside the art tents. “How’s the cyber stalking?” he asks, pulling out the receipts as music, reminiscent of the IG Story Superzoom Dramatic filter, plays in the background.

Welp, it can’t get any worse than this, so Zoey confronts Luca about the his-and-her tatts — and then about all of his exes. Luca gives her the “body count”, as he calls it, and while his number is garbled to us, we know it’s hella high because Zoey’s eyes grow huge. And also, she says this: “That’s one sold-out ballpark.” Obvi, that’s just hyperbole, right? Right?!

Legit shook for several seconds, Zoey comes back to reality and says she was just taking some time to tally up her own “body count” of two, which she proceeds to remind him of a few times.

Next, we find Nomi lying on her bed thinking about her own day, when her women’s studies professor (aka her “gay-ru”) DMs her asking how everything went at the queer art event. “It was … loud?” Nomi responds, saying she just couldn’t get into the performance. They go back and forth for a bit, and then, after Nomi says she needs a “crash course in queer culture,” her professor tells her to clear her schedule next week, sends her some better music to listen to, and instructs her to call her after she’s listened to said music. “Enough with the texting,” her professor says. Is this a little weird to anyone else? Is grown-ish ’bout to start a subplot on students dating their profs? Ugh, hope not.

Still in the apartment, Zoey returns announcing that art sucks and so does deep diving. Ana tells her not to blame the deep dive for her issues — it got her the answers she wanted. Plus, Luca never trips about Zoey’s past and Aaron’s around a lot. Zoey reminds her friend that she and Aaron were never really together, sooooo. This seems to relieve Ana of any guilty feelings she’s been having.

Then, a knock on the door. It’s Luca, and he’s come to show Zoey that he’s covered the problematic tattoo — by placing a bandage with Zoey’s name on it over the tatt. He also apologizes for shutting down Zo’s attempts to learn more about his past and says he processes things through art, but he now understands that she may need to process things through questions, so ask away.

Across campus, Ana surprises Aaron with a knock on his door. She’s come to apologize, too, but before she can say much, Aaron’s like:


Back with Zoey and Luca, Zo thinks about all the questions she could ask, but it turns out, she’s learned something, too. “I’m good,” she says.

Catch up on the episodes you’ve missed here.


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