Zoey’s First Heartbreak

By Lindsey Mutz

Grownish 1×07 “Unbreak My Heart”

This episode of Grown-ish is different from the rest. Post break-up with Cash, Zoey is a mess. She hasn’t left her room in weeks or had any fun at all. Her friends persuade her to come out with them one night, and as they’re pre-gaming in Zoey’s dorm room, all the lights go out, immediately killing the mood.

From this point on, “Unbreak My Heart” functions as Grown-ish’s first “bottle episode”, a technique used in television to isolate central characters in one location and achieve significant breakthrough in terms of character development. This episode finds Zoey and her friends sitting in a circle, surrounded by candles, trying to work through what went wrong with Zoey’s relationship and why. It’s hard for bottle episodes to work in episodic comedy—they’re more common in longer drama, like Breaking Bad. But, weirdly…it worked.

Zoey’s problems are so relatable to the college aged woman, it would be hard not to be interested in her plight. She goes back and forth between thinking Cash truly loved her and thinking he was just in love with the idea of her. Her friends have different opinions on how healthy their relationship was, but they all agree on one thing: Zoey needs to get over him. All women who have ever been dumped know how it feels to sit in a circle with your friends and shit talk your ex. It feels great to talk trash about the people who have wronged you. And watching it play out with Zoey and her girls was oddly cathartic. Their energy was contagious, and I wanted to cheer and laugh with them as they recounted how Cash didn’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re.”

After a night of heartfelt pleas to delete his number, Aaron and Vivek show up, and let slip that Cash is now dating Zoe Kravitz. Zoey Johnson, unsurprisingly, is outraged that he didn’t tell her and worried that she’ll never compete with another Zoe. Here is where I have a problem with this episode. Cash and Zoey’s relationship was serious, and to say that he’s now dating a celebrity not only feels unrealistic, it feels like a cop out. It’s convenient for the plot, in that Zoey finally feels angry enough to think about calling him…but it’s grounded in nothing established already, and it really doesn’t mean anything. It would have been just as easy to say he was dating another girl, but heightening the stakes to that of a celebrity coupling just feels out of place.

At the end of the episode, Zoey goes outside to call Cash, but ultimately decides against it. She deletes his number. There’s no clear reason as to what made her choose this, other than the advice and support of her friends. And sometimes that’s all it takes to stop thinking about the guy who broke your heart.