by Ariana Romero | via Refinery29
The most memorable episodes of grown-ish’s parent show black-ish are the ones where it tackles a major cultural issue and makes it digestible for its audience. Think about the one where the Johnsons attempt to get a handle on the N-word, or work through police brutality. Season 3 “Lemons,” which reacted to Donald Trump’s election with shockingly fast speed, will go down as one of the sitcom’s iconic installments.
Although spin-off grown-ish hasn’t shied away from The Tough Issues — tackling teen prescription pill abuse in the series premiere and following with conversations about class tensions, sexuality, and virginity — but it hasn’t exactly scrutinized anything down in the way black-ish tends to excel in. That is until “It’s Hard Out There For A Pimp,” which takes aim at how hard it is to date as a Black woman, and breaks that topic all the way down to the molecules.
The episode opens with heroine Zoey Johnson (Yara Shahidi) narrating her way through a bar, where the rest of her friends are drinking the night away. The voiceover-worthy topic at hand? “The List,” as Forster sisters Jazz (Chloe Bailey) and Sky (Halle Bailey) will later call it, of eligibility. At the top of that hierarchy, as proven by actual dating app data, are Asian women, followed close behind by white women; at the very bottom, it’s Black women and Asian men.
This might all sound like a certain Master Of None episode you remember, and, well, it does. But, in the same way black-ish’s Very Special Episodes on race are meant to speak to its majority non-Black audience, grown-ish is being used to talk to its own millennial and Gen-Z fans. Tell me, how many high school sophomores do you believe enjoy watching the vaguely Italian cinema-inspired romantic travails of a 30-something-year-old indecisive man. The answer is likely none, but young people are watching grown-ish. So, this is exactly where they can learn about the pitfalls of The List.
Ever the truth-tellers, Jazz and Sky are the ones who complain about the unfair dating situation unfolding around them. Aghast, the twins realize every Black man around them is coupled up with at least one white woman, if not more. This wouldn’t be so bad if any of these available men also gave the track stars a fair shot, but none do. “Was there some event, some movie, some Drake song that said Black guys should stop dating Black girls?” Jazz rightly complains. But, the culprit isn’t the 6ix God, it’s that List.
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