I’ve watched all of Grown-ish and Mixed-ish and both shows, and their parent series Black-ish touch on queerness, though that is never the primary focus of their stories. The series, collectively, discuss and tell the stories of BiPoC in America in different time-periods, with different backgrounds. Even though the main characters are all family (though in literally different eras, Mixed-ish took place in the 1980s), they all came to where they are through different paths.
Queerness is, sadly, often an afterthought on these series. While those stories are told powerfully on shows like Pose, the -ish series have them more as a side-story. On Black-ish, Dre’s sister (played by out actress Raven-Symoné) is a recurring character who goes through the usual queer-guest sagas of marriage, divorce, and children. On Mixed-ish we learn that Bow’s paternal grandparents divorced because her grandmother is a lesbian. And on Grown-ish we have … Nomi.
Now that Grown-ish is reaching the pinnacle of graduation tomorrow, and the gang is splitting up across the country, the series feels like it’s coming to a close of that particular story. If the series continues, and to be clear I have no idea if it will, it likely would focus on Zoey and what’s next for her. And this feels like the right moment to look back at the active bisexual regular character.
From Questionable-ish Beginnings
The first time we meet Nomi, she’s screwing someone. Episode one has her in late registration, which is why she ends up in a midnight class with the rest of our regulars, because she was banging another girl in a bathroom. Right away, we’re presented with Nomi as the ‘slutty bisexual’ and this vibe carries through in odd ways. An early girlfriend, for example, dumps her because she doesn’t want to be a ‘bi girl’s experiment.’
The first season established a number of unflattering bisexual tropes, including Nomi herself being okay with bi women, but not with bi guys. Nomi also had not come out to her parents. By the time we got to the second season, Nomi was sleeping with a different random woman a night, much to the annoyance of her roommates.
It was partway through season two that Nomi meets Prof. Paige Hewson, or “Professor Shane” as some of us called her. Paige encouraged Nomi to be herself, come out, be who she was. Apparently that including ‘sleep with your professor,’ as Paige and Nomi had an incredibly inappropriate relationship – dating while Paige was still her teacher.
Keeping their relationship a secret had a toll on Nomi, and they eventually break up. However at the end of season 2, Nomi gets a call from the Cal U Independent Ethics Committee. They inform her that there’s been allegations against Professor Hewson regarding inappropriate conduct.
That storyline? Goes nowhere.
We end with that bombshell and then season 3 begins and Nomi’s nowhere in sight, and no one seems to know what’s going on. When Nomi does, eventually, show up partway through the season, she is visibly pregnant. Apparently after the breakup with Paige, Nomi got blasted on margaritas and got knocked up.
The rest of Nomi’s storylines are about her being a MILF trying to get into law school. This includes the expected arguments about ‘should Nomi tell the baby-daddy?’ (she eventually does) and then the classic ‘parental rights’ about going to grad school and being away from the baby.
As season 4 runs to the end, the question is up in the air: Does the baby daddy have rights (… yes) and can he block Nomi from moving to the other side of the country to go to law school?
Sadly the entire arc is just not good and is endemic of the flaws in Grown-ish. I can’t even say that’s endemic of Nomi being not-the-star, as some of Zoey’s plots (her panic attacks) are similarly dropped without consequences. Jazz and her boyfriend who likes to dress gender-non-conforming, it also feels like it was left half-finished. Vivek got busted for drugs, expelled, and has trouble getting a job? No worries, he’s fine to be an Uber driver.
Everything gets wrapped up weirdly, and while it’s true a large part of being grown means things end in funky places, the lack of followthrough with Grown-ish leaves a frustrating taste in my mouth. I don’t mind incomplete stories. Lives are messy. But the problem I have is that the kids on Grown-ish have two real options for their plots:
- It’s all wrapped up in a bow and never talked about again
- It doesn’t end at all
For whatever reason, the third option of a dissatisfying (but realistic) ending isn’t really touched.
The season finale airs tomorrow night. There is some resolution for a number of plots, but most feel like they were wrapped up for the sake of wrapping up. And to me, that isn’t grown at all.
Check out the season finale of Grown-ish on Freeform tomorrow night, or catch it the following day on Hulu.