A word of caution as we inch closer to tonight’s Grown-ish finale: You might be left screaming, “NOOOOOOOOOO!” at your TV screen by the end of the night.
At least that’s what Francia Raisa predicts will happen, and she would know — her Ana is one of the characters who has elicited some of the most emotional reactions from fans so far this season. “They’re gonna tell us it’s not fair, they’re gonna be angry it’s not an hour long — which I keep seeing a lot — and they’re gonna be really upset that we’re leaving them with such a cliffhanger,” the actress forecasted with MTV News.
Sophomore year for the Grown-ish gang has been a wild ride, with each week seeing the group deal with a new batch of very plausible situations that feel authentic to the modern college experience. Sure, it might be slightly more sanitary and with way better hair than the real thing, but the half-hour comedy helps us laugh our way through the problems we can (see: Ana’s utterly exposing tips for social media stalking) and find help for those we can’t.
Here, Raisa looks back on the major story lines of the season and offers some clarity and insight into her fictional friends to prepare us for the heart-stopping spring finale.
The cool-girl attitude that Yara Shahidi’s Zoey embodies on Black-ish looks a little bit different when you’re privy to her inner thoughts. Whereas freshman year was pretty much dominated by which guy she should date, sophomore year has been a bit more hectic for Zoey’s schoolwork-life balance.
Totally lost in her relationship with Luca (Luka Sabbat), Zoey has been making a lot of decisions based around keeping him happy — dropping a competitive class with him, getting caught up in their social media perfection, spinning out over his ex — all moves that some Twitter critics have decided make her look dumb. “I feel like she’s almost losing her identity because she’s trying to please him so much that she doesn’t even know who or what is going on anymore, to where she had to cheat [on her chem final] because she was so stuck in trying to fit in,” Raisa said.
Meanwhile, Luca — whom the internet has deemed a dream boyfriend — always reacts maturely to Zoey’s needs, “but she doesn’t say what she needs,” Raisa said. But that doesn’t necessarily make Zoey dumb. “She’s just being confused, and instead of trusting her instincts and really taking the time to reflect on it the way that she needs to and talk to the proper people that she needs to, she’s acting out of emotion.”
Raisa’s Ana has certainly turned up the heat this season. That bb freshman who couldn’t handle her alcohol now has a steamy secret romance — with her best friend’s almost-ex, Aaron (Trevor Jackson).
“When it first happened, I had so many people just hate me because of girl code,” Raisa recalled. But over time, most fans warmed up to the idea of ultra-conservative Ana and social justice warrior Aaron’s blossoming love, even if it did mean a little sneaking around.
“I feel like this is the first time Ana was really seen by anyone,” Raisa assessed. “I have grace for her in the sense that she’s still so confused and trying to figure out what she’s even feeling, but at the same time, this is her friend and I feel like she should have addressed it with Zoey before anything happened, especially after the first time they kissed.”
Now that Ana’s realizing things with Aaron might be more than a fling, she’s summoning the courage to talk to Zoey about it all — but still, it hasn’t been easy to play the role of a good friend. (Zoey does, as we’ve discussed, have her own problems to deal with.)
“Because I know her heart, I wouldn’t call her a bad friend,” Raisa said. “It’s not like she did anything directly to her and she doesn’t love her and she’s not not thinking about her – she just handled it poorly.”
Sophomore year has been a year of self-acceptance for Nomi, played by Emily Arlook. The mostly-out (just not to her parents) bisexual student has been taking some time to explore her queerness, starting the season off by providing a service of sorts to her fellow classmates — offering a one-time, same-sex experience in bed to a rotating cast of nameless characters.
It wasn’t until she got closer to the group’s teacher, Professor Hewson (Katherine Moennig), that she really got curious about the queer community. “I don’t think she realized what a pimp she was being with her other girls and stuff and I’m glad that she’s getting in touch more so with her emotions and with her identity and who she is as a person,” Raisa said. “But at the same time it’s like, well, is this the right way to go about it?”
Oh, I’m sorry — did I forget to mention that bombshell car kiss? It turns out, Professor Hewson’s Intro to Queer crash course came with Halsey tunes and a short make-out, leaving Nomi “deeply in like.”
Hooking up with a professor is a sticky line that some schools have outright banned due to the complicated power dynamic at play in such a relationship. At the same time, Nomi is legally an adult and free to make her own decisions. The situation is confusing all around, and it might be too soon for us, the viewers, to adequately assess it. “Maybe they truly did have a connection, and for Nomi then, it’s like, this is someone that I’m finally feeling comfortable talking to about this and I get it — it’s so easy to feel such an emotional connection if this is the first time you’re opening up emotionally,” Raisa said. “But on Professor Hewson’s end … is this different or is this a pattern that she has? We don’t know.”
Jazz & Sky
Played by the package-deal Chloe and Halle Bailey, Jazz and Sky really show their different personalities this season. While they continued to share an unbreakable sisterly bond, Sky took on a quieter persona, letting Jazz take the reins for the two of them as she tried to modestly sex-up their Instagram game to get athletic endorsement deals.
But one person wasn’t a fan of Jazz’s bodily expression — her boyfriend, Doug (Diggy Simmons), who ended their relationship over the ordeal. “Jazz and Doug clearly do not know how to communicate and clearly are stuck in their own ways and their own pride,” Raisa assessed. “No one is trying to please the other and they don’t mind arguing.”
Can the once picture-perfect couple find a compromise?
We’ll have to tune in to find out. Grown-ish’s spring finale airs on Freeform Wednesday, March 6, at 8 p.m. ET.