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Grown-ish - Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe - Review - "Ever since I got here, I haven’t been myself,”

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“Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” was the second episode of Grown-ish which aired on the 3rd of January 2017. Zoey starts to experience "fear of missing out" for the first time in her life when she tries to juggle schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and partying.

As freshmen in college, it’s easy to use the newfound sense of freedom to find yourself, your tribe and indulge in all the proclivities college has to offer. In the second episode Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,this is the situation Zoey is faced with. While the premiere episode dove into introducing the new characters in the series, the second episode spends it’s time focusing on Zoe’s transition to college.

This episode left me with no doubt about why Kenya Barris and Freeform decided to center the show around Zoey. Yara Shahidi transforms the Black-ish formula of inner monologues and narration to make them uniquely Zoe's. Unlike Andre's, Zoey's pieces don't feel like we're being educated, rather we're just having a casual conversation with the character.   As an audience, we are there with her when she decided to take Adderal after swearing off it. We are privy to her inner thoughts she doesn't ever really express publicly leaving us with a personal connection to the struggles she's whether we've personally experienced them or not. The separation between Zoey's thoughts and actions is perfect for the college theme where "Fake It Til You Make It" is a common attitude among freshman as they navigate the "impostor" stage of their college lives.

This episode brought the forth wall breaking narrative device to the fore, and at first I really didn't enjoy it. I found it to be a killer on the pacing of the episode, but the more I watched and re watched the episode, the more I grew to love it. I think it compliments the intimacy we feel during Zoey's monologues as we are now not only getting Zoey's inner thoughts but her first raw reactions to the situations put in front of her, all of which help us see Zoey's growth during each episode.

The main thing Zoey struggles with in this episode is finding her "thing" as she juggles the hedonistic nature of college and the rigors of classes and assignments. Zoey's fashion partner Luca suggests that she partake in his marijuana "thing" but Zoey refuses to take drugs. Luca insists that if she doesn't want to take marijuana then she need find something else because otherwise she's going to have a meltdown. As she continues to procrastinates on her project with Luca, her other assignments start to pile up including a 25 page paper of Ruth "Judge Judy" Bader Ginsburg. This is honestly one of the most real experiences EVERY student goes through. (Hell the lateness of this review makes me hyper aware that even I do this) I think for Zoey the struggle hits her worse because she's such a perfectionist that it's a shock to the system when she's not acing her classes the first time around.

Enter Vivek and his binder of pills: He suggests to Zoey that she try Adderal to give her a cognitive boost so that she can complete her work. Zoey refuses outright thinking it is cheating, but her friends admit they've all taken drugs to give them an edge. Vivek questions Zoey's stance by saying "Is it cheating if everyone is doing it?"

In the early hours of the morning, it's clear to Zoey that she's not going to get down. Desperate she decides to give the blue pills ago. At first it doesn't seem like they work... until they do. Hyper-stimulated and super-focused she breaks ground with her assignment but quickly gets distracted by a online pop up. She ends up blowing out her credit card on shoes, in what Vivek and Nomi affectionately refer to as an "Addy spiral." Deciding the risk of taking the drugs is too high, she swears she's a one and done girl. That is until she sees how Luca handles his college activites with his week "thing." She decides to give it another go, and this time it works for her. She swears she'll only take the pills in case of an emergency but later Zoey decides to take Addy again to answer a late night booty call from Aaron

 I appreciate the open ending of the situation and how the message of drugs didn't come off as preachy. Most YA storylines concerning drugs usually serve as an after school special or a cautionary tales that end with something along the lines of "Hugs not drugs" nd "Just Say No" but Grown-ish instead opts for a more nuanced lesson. They allow Zoey to be an adult and control when she'll take the drugs. They're not demonized and the responsibility is on the her the user. I have a feeling with the serialized nature of this show, this isn't the last time we've seen the little blue pills. Especially now that we've seen her use the pills for both business and pleasure

Overall Yara seems to find the perfect balance of the brave, cool Zoey we've come to know and love over the past 4 years and the challenged, unsure, and at times scared Zoey we see in this new environment at Cal U. Gone are the days of security that living in a well-to-do and loving family provides both materially and ideologically. What I do appreciate about Grown-ish is that despite the crisis of conscience and growing pains Zoey experiences, she still has what it takes to thrive in her environment. She's not just the coolest sibling anymore. The show has allowed her to be flawed and nuanced, make mistakes but still be a strong, empowered woman of color. There's not "beaten down" moments, just growth and as a female myself, I'm enjoy seeing these types of young females on my screen.

So what do you think about Zoey's growth this episode?  Have you been enjoying Zoey as a lead? Did you find the Addy conclusion satisfying? Lemme know in the comments!

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