Why Zoey & Ana's "Girl Code" Fight On 'grown-ish' Is So Complicated

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Freeform/Eric McCandless

Everyone's heard phrases such as "sisters before misters" and the like, right? Well, Zoey and Ana's "girl code" argument in the June 5 grown-ish episode, "Fake Love," shows that today's dating landscape is much too complicated for any sort of "rules" to be relegated to a cute rhyme. Either way, after Aaron reveals to Zoey that he and her "literal ride or die" Ana have been "kickin' it and stuff...naked," your favorite protagonist lays it all out in the latest installment of Freeform's black-ish spinoff. (And let's just say it wasn't as "dope" as she so unconvincingly told Aaron.)

"Since the dawn of womankind, much about humans has adapted and evolved, you know, like how we used to sleep in caves and comb our hair with rocks," Zoey says in her usual voiceover. "However, there is one rule that has, and will always, stand the test of time: girl code — that unspoken, yet very strict set of rules we ladies live by. And the number one rule of girl code is: Don't date anyone your homegirl has been in a relationship with. The number two rule of girl code: Read rule number one over and over and over again until you die."

From there, things get a bit murkier, however, given that this generation has "redefined traditional relationships," and, as Zoey explains, turned them into "situationships." And you better believe that everybody had their own opinion on the matter.

As both the guys and gals of grown-ish debate the topic throughout the episode, one thing that becomes clear is that so-called "girl code" isn't specific to girls — or any gender identity, for that matter. In fact, what many call "girl code" or "bro code" may be more appropriately flat-out labeled as "friend code." As Doug tells Aaron, "I'm not even trying to judge you, but smashing within the friend group is straight treacherous."

Call it what you want, Zoey felt violated and was not having it regardless, even calling Ana a "shady piece of backstabbing trash" because "best friends don't sleep with their best friend's ex." Yikes.

Only it's not quite so black and white — in Ana's eyes anyway because, you know, Aaron wasn't technically Zoey's ex. Insert more relationship vs. "situationship" debate — mostly via Jazz, Sky, and Nomi, who've secretly planted a phone in the room where Zoey and Ana are arguing, so they can eavesdrop on the convo.

What defines an ex in today's dating world? Does not having had sex matter if there was an emotional connection? Is there an age cutoff? Without the official relationship label, are you really in a relationship? Can one person ever stake claim over another? And as Zoey pointed out, if she and Aaron were never in a relationship (despite the fact they'd hooked up and he'd been to her house to meet the rest of the Johnson crew), why did Ana and Aaron feel guilty to the point of having to sneak around? More blurred lines and so. many. questions.

With all the drama unfolding, the one guy Zoey can count on to calm her down is Luca, right? Not quite. Even he has a perspective that she didn't see coming. Although their "situationship" turned into a full-fledged relationship, Zoey's distress over Aaron and Ana's...we'll just say "kickin' it" status, for now...and the fact Zoey officially gave Aaron the label of her ex, lead Luca to believe she still had feelings for "old boy." Clearly feeling slighted, even Zen Luca essentially kicks Zoey out, telling her to find someplace else to process her feelings.

Surprisingly, the one who seems to put it all into perspective is Vivek, who reminds Zoey that "at the end of the day, our girls are all we've got." That assertion seems to resonate with Zoey, who, again in voiceover, agrees that her girls are, indeed, the only things she'll always have. "Isn't that what girl code is about? Protecting each other and sticking together even when it hurts?" Zoey wonders.

A happy reconciliation with Ana seems imminent, right? Wrong. "Girl code says we shouldn't let a guy get between friends," she tells a relieved Ana. And then... "But we're not friends anymore. You're just a girl I live with." And scene.

So Zoey's once-idyllic life is continuing to implode. And with more questions than answers at this point, it seems safe to say that grown-ish has at least emphasized that relationships — platonic or otherwise — are, well, complicated.

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