The 'Young & Hungry' Season 5 Premiere Tackled Class Differences in Relationships, But I'm Still Skeptical

Freeform’s Young & Hungry is back! A special two-episode premiere aired last night to ring in the show’s fifth and final season, and all the characters were still up to their usual shenanigans. However, there is one big difference: after four seasons of back-and-forth, will-they-won’t-they tension between Josh and Gabi, we finally get to see them as a real couple. And like every new relationship, the two of them face some growing pains as they adjust to being together.

 

I’m going to focus on the first episode, “Young & Downton Gabi,” because it was the one that had me raising my eyebrows quite a bit. The episode starts off cute—Josh and Gabi celebrate each little thing they’re doing for the first time as boyfriend and girlfriend, and there’s sex jokes and “I love you”s and more sex jokes. But one moment in particular struck me: Gabi has a moment of pause when they discuss the fact that she still works for Josh as his chef. She refers to their situation as “unprofessional,” but it only lasts a second: Josh basically brushes it off, so then she does as well, and the thread is dropped.

It’s interesting here to note the time between when the last episode of Young & Hungry aired and this premiere. “Young & Amnesia,” the last time we saw Josh and Gabi, aired in May 2017. The months since then saw the beginning of the #MeToo and #TIMESUP movements, and a reckoning for sexual misconduct in the workplace. While it’s been made more than clear that Josh and Gabi’s relationship is consensual, the blurred lines between Gabi’s duties as his employee and their feelings for each other become a lot less cute under this new critical lens than they would’ve been last year, or when the show originally premiered. They make an unofficial rule that when Gabi is wearing her apron, she’s on the job as his chef and not his girlfriend, which is a quick fix at best; I’m hoping Gabi leaves her job well before the end of the season. (By the way, in the second episode, “Young & Third Wheel,” we see them making out in the kitchen—Gabi’s workspace—with her apron securely tied around her waist, so it seems the show isn’t too concerned with defining these lines.)

Josh now has undeniable power over Gabi both as her boss and her boyfriend, and while you might be thinking, “Oh, but he’s so sweet! He would never use that against her,” his actions in this episode belie that.

When Josh and Gabi decide to start staying over at her apartment instead, he’s horrified by her lifestyle. She ran out of toilet paper! Her shower doesn’t always work properly! Her mattress is old! She *gasp* doesn’t have AC! Josh and Gabi’s socioeconomic difference was never any secret to either of them (he hired her, after all, and knows her income), but the way the episode is written implies that the show wants you to think the state of Gabi’s apartment is more a result of her own messiness than her salary. But guess what? When you can’t afford your own maid to clean up after you, your place isn’t always going to be spotless!

And Josh isn’t sympathetic or understanding—he’s disgusted. While it’s funny to laugh at Josh being spoiled and Gabi being a “mess,” my initial thought was, “Hey, buddy! As long as you’re the one writing her paycheck, you don’t get to have an opinion on what amenities she can and can’t afford.”

I was shaking my head at Josh by this point, but his next move had me full-on cringing. Without a second of hesitation on whether this would be seriously overstepping a boundary, Josh sends a maid to Gabi and Sofia’s apartment and also replaces her bed, shower and fridge, and installs AC. What exactly made him think he had the right to do that? It’s a discomforting show of the power that he thinks he has over her as her boyfriend (being able to invade her—and Sofia’s!—space like this), and the power that he does have over her as an upper-class man (being able to judge her possessions as trash, and deciding which things she should value).

Gabi is rightfully horrified, and her reaction gave me hope that the show would focus on how class differences and power dynamics in relationships can be difficult to navigate, but are necessary to talk about. When she says that Josh should’ve asked her permission, his response is that it would be “like asking a homeless person if they want a home!” The comment came across as woefully ignorant to me, as if anyone who doesn’t have their own maid and chef, like Josh, might as well be homeless. I was totally cheering Gabi on in this entire scene—she points out that Josh is spoiled, says that she loves her stuff even if it’s “crap” and argues that Josh didn’t do this out of love for her, but for his own selfish good. Yay Gabi!

The ending of the episode, however, still left something to be desired. Gabi has a conversation with Sofia about how she feels rejected by Josh because of what he did, which… somehow leads them to the conclusion that the two of them should “compromise”? Sorry, but I don’t see why they think she should compromise with him after he treated all of her things—and by extension, her—like they were his own property and disposed of them without thinking of her opinion at all. He was completely in the wrong; the show should have acted like it.

Josh and Gabi’s final heart-to-heart doesn’t leave Gabi standing up for herself like before, either. Instead, she tells him that she felt insecure because he’s rich and successful, among other things, and for some reason, she apologizes for blowing up at him. It feels like a step backwards: where is the Gabi that loves her things and put in hard work to get them? Even when Josh makes an admittedly mature move and says he’s glad that she called him out and agrees to reverse all of the changes he made, she’s upset because it means she’ll lose all the new comforts she now has. I get the comic relief of the moment, but it walks back on the truth that Josh was wrong, and takes away from the overall lesson of the episode.

TL;DR: Free Gabi from working for her boyfriend, and somebody please teach Josh what boundaries are.