Grown-ish Tackles College Hookup Culture

By Lindsey Mutz

Review of episode 1×03 “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late.”

Grown-ish opens right where we left off last week, with Zoey receiving a “u up?” text from Aaron. Like every girl with a guy problem, Zoey enlists her friends’ advice, unsure whether she should be flattered or feel disrespected that Aaron only texts her at night. Her friends have different opinions—some think it’s rude, others think it’s liberating to have such casual relationships. Hook up culture itself is a messy topic, both in real life and in the world of the show. As Zoey soon finds out, everyone has a different definition of what “hooking up” means. To her, it means making out. To twins Skylar and Jazz, it means sex. To her roommate Ana, it means hanging out with her uncle in a hotel, but that’s another story.

And to Aaron, Vivek and Luca, the lines are just as blurred. Not only does Aaron not know why Zoey isn’t texting him back, he and Vivek have very different definitions of hook up terms. Vivek thinks “messing around” means sex while Aaron thinks it’s just making out. And while we’re defining hook-up terms, apparently “top shelf action” is the same as  “kicking it.”

The show doesn’t pose a clear answer to the hook up question, but instead jumps to another side effect of loosely defined hook up culture: dating more than one person. When Zoey bumps into Aaron in Charlie’s class, she sees him kissing another girl. (Who happens to look a lot like her.) In response, Zoey freaks out and has a text meltdown, texting Aaron “u up?” and spirals until she’s discussing marriage, school zones for their future children, and joint bank accounts.

And just when she thinks she’ll have to fake her own death, Zoey gets a text from Luca, her chill, weed-smoking, Aaron-hating friend, that turns things around. They go to a secret warehouse concert, complete with a performance from Kid Ink, and start seeing each other. At the same time, Zoey and Aaron keep seeing each other.

As you can probably expect, things blow up when Zoey accidentally facetimes both boys at once, and she ends up with no one. After some advice from a bow tie-clad Chris Parnell, she decides that while guys come and go, her friendships with her friends are forever, and she should just focus on that. That is, until she bumps into another cute guy.

With this episode, Grown-ish explores a culture largely misunderstood by adults and children—something that only makes sense to college kids. The show poses some serious questions without always providing answers, but instead providing evidence for why the lines are so blurry for Zoey and her friends. And sometimes that’s enough. So many issues faced by college kids don’t have right or wrong answers–the rules of life in college are not as defined as when you get out into the real world. And as Zoey soon learns, you definitely don’t need to have the correct definition of hooking up to have a good time.

Featured Image via Hulu Twitter @hulu.

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