Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Josh Is Irrelevant

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND: 3.06 “Josh Is Irrelevant”

There’s a lot to say about this episode. Bear with me. It’ll be a long post.

After last week’s intense episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I wasn’t sure where we’d begin this episode — or where we’d go. Would we see the light, enthusiastic Rebecca we’ve known and loved? Or would that girl be gone, showing us only the sad, pained version we saw in the trailer, the one who couldn’t muster a laugh in the trailer? Or something else entirely?

If anything, this episode showed us that we’ve seen a changed Rebecca, starting with the girl in the hospital bed who is showing remorse for her suicide attempt. She heartbreakingly tells Dr. Akopian that she failed her and confides to Paula that she didn’t even want to die, she just wanted the pain to stop. And she keeps apologizing for all that she’s putting everyone through, inconveniencing the people in the plane, taking time that Paula should be spending with her family, and keeping her friends from work.

And then there was the scared side, the version of Rebecca that was afraid that going back home, as positive as Paula spins it, will just end up with her in the same spot again. What would change?

And that’s when something shifts. Dr. Shin (affectionally known to Paula as Dr. Damn) tells Rebecca that he thinks she’s been misdiagnosed all these years, that he has a new treatment and diagnosis for her. Suddenly, she’s filled with something new: hope.

This series has done a lot of things well, one of which is trying to bring attention to mental illness and remove the stigma around it. And the song that Rebecca sings after hearing that she finally has a real diagnosis is one of these moments that is so eye-opening to the struggles that individuals deal with and how much having someone understand, identify, and help can mean to someone. It helps them belong, helps them to better understand themselves, and finally gives them hope. I don’t normally include the videos from the show in my reviews, but this one impressed me so much, I have to share it.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: “I Never Want to See Josh Again”

Photo by Scott Everett White/The CW

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND: 3.05 “I Never Want to See Josh Again”

Hi friends, tonight’s #CrazyExGirlfriend is pretty emotionally intense. Just wanted to give everyone the head’s up.

That was a tweet shared by Rachel Bloom on Friday, in advance of the most recent episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I saw it. And I know how dark the show can get. And yet, I still wasn’t prepared for what I was about to see.

I’ve seen the episode twice now. After watching it live on Friday, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to watch it again. It was an incredibly tense episode, with each commercial break making me wonder when the next shoe was going to drop. I remember a mere 12 minutes in feeling like I was about to cry, as Naomi opened Rebecca’s laptop and discovered she was looking at “The Nine Least Painful Ways to Kill Yourself.” Her mother had been through a suicide attempt with Rebecca before. She had seen her erratic behavior with Robert. She heard Rebecca say she wanted to “go back to sleep forever” and noticed she hadn’t eaten in a few days. But even so, when she saw the link, her shocked and upset reaction — “I didn’t know” — was heartbreaking.

Then, something seemed to change. Naomi was supportive. She was getting Rebecca to eat, interacting with her, showing that she cared. I wanted to believe it. Something was still nagging at me, though. And in each commercial break, I was left ill at ease, waiting to see what happened next.

And we know: Naomi was drugging Rebecca without her knowledge so that she could get her well enough to discuss ways to help her. While she may have had the best of intentions, it failed for Rebecca, who saw that her last bit of hope — that at least her mother was there and cared for her — was a fraud. And she had no hope left.

I’ll be honest: I realized how Rebecca was spiraling, and yet, I didn’t think that they would actually have her try to commit suicide. Let alone show it. But there I sat in those final minutes, shocked and silently screaming, “No, Rebecca, no!” knowing there was nothing I could do to stop her. I feared the last we would see was her unconscious in her chair, with the flight attendant looking calmly on, unsure what would happen next.

I’m glad they didn’t. As Rebecca looked up at the “help” light as it blinked to read “hope,” I was so relieved to hear that ding of the passenger button. Rebecca held out the empty pill bottle and said, “I need help.” It was emotionally intense, certainly. And it took me a long time to process all of that.

That was the first time I watched it. On the edge, nervous, ill at ease, and shocked.

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Why You (Probably) Should Be Watching “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World”

Photo by ABC

When I hear the phrase “feel-good” in relation to a TV show or movie, I tend to roll my eyes. It usually means that it’s family-oriented, overly cheesy, with a lot of slapstick humor — and it’s usually about the holidays. Think a tree falling over while a dog runs through some guy in a ridiculous sweater’s legs, while he responds with a stereotypical shocked expression and bulging eyes, all while you expect an eight-year-old to laugh at the screen. It’s not my cup of tea.

All this to say, when I hear “feel-good” in association with a TV show or movie, I don’t take it seriously. In fact, I normally skip it.

Now hear this: Kevin (Probably) Saves the World is the feel-good TV show that our times need right now. It’s not anything that I described above. And you should watch it.

Cheesy? No. Slapstick? Maybe a little. But stereotypical? Absolutely not. The show take a creative spin on a redemption story — a point I’ll expand on in a bit. Down-on-his-luck Kevin returns home to live with his sister after leaving his New York life and job behind. But just as he’s settling in, a meteor hits, and spiritual guide (not quite an angel) Yvette tells him that he’s one of 36 “righteous” in his generation, and he has to find the other 35 to save the world. But first, he needs to learn to do good.

A somewhat unorthodox premise. But one thing caught my eye: Jason Ritter. I’ve been a fan of Jason Ritter ever since I watched Joan of Arcadia. And these shows align in similar ways. Here, Kevin getting signs about things he can do to help people, much like Joan herself did back in the day — with the slight caveat that the spiritual aspect behind it is quite a bit different. Jason Ritter is a delight to watch on the show, balancing comedic moments with earnestness, even in his lowest moments.

Which brings me back to the idea of redemption. The aspect of a redemption story is nothing new. I’m not talking about the Angel type of redemption, but shows where they show a self-centered jerk trying to fix their lives. Think My Name Is Earl or Samantha Who? But what distinguishes this show from the others is that Kevin isn’t just some self-absorbed jackass. He’s not throwing money around or hurting others for his own good. With the exception of one short clip of Kevin when he used to work in the finance industry, it’s almost impossible to ever think he’s materialistic. Instead, his self-centeredness is focused on the fact that he just simply doesn’t think beyond his own issues. He doesn’t actively think of others. We discover that after his brother-in-law died, he doesn’’t do much to comfort his sister or niece. And more so, what eventually brings him back home is an attempted suicide. Kevin is simply unhappy and trying to move on with his life.

But Yvette is here to change all that — which involves some entertaining hijinks. Kevin ends up following signs (sometimes ridiculous ones, like when he was unable to leave a bar because every door returned him to another part of the building) to see where he can help. Of course, Kevin being Kevin, it never goes as smoothly as he hopes — especially when he gets one of his visions, like when an elevator full of water soaks him, masked men are standing over him, or he’s suddenly chased by a tiger when he was previously in the bathroom. While it’s all fun to watch, trying to understand how these visions fit together so he can find the other 35 righteous people becomes a little puzzle over the course of the series.

And in case you think Kevin is the only part of the show worth watching (though, quite frankly, he is the strongest part), the show has a great cast of recognizable supporting players, including JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Kimberly Hebert Gregory, J. August Richards, and India de Beaufort. Swisher, who plays Kevin’s sister, struggles with worrying about Kevin and raising her teenage daughter (played by Chloe East). Gregory plays Yvette, who along with making sure Kevin is protected has to deal with her own understanding of human emotion, the longer she’s on Earth. And there are, of course, friends in Richards and de Beaufort’s characters, who are just trying to get along with their lives now that Kevin is back in them.

But what I enjoy most about Kevin (Probably) Saves the World is the feeling you’re left with after watching an episode. You’re left uplifted, realizing the little things you can do to put goodness back into the world. Sure, Kevin still has his troubles; he’s brought a lot of baggage with him when he moved to town, and his strange behavior isn’t helping. But it’s a fun way to escape into a Tuesday night, knowing you’re going to laugh and be entertained for a full hour.

It really is feel-good.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Josh’s Ex-Girlfriend is Crazy

Photo by Robert Voets/The CW

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND: 3.04 “Josh’s Ex-Girlfriend is Crazy”

It’s been years since I’ve seen Swimfan. But now I want to watch it again.

Friday night’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was years in the making. Seriously, creators Rachel Bloom (who, of course, also plays our leading lady Rebecca Bunch) and Aline Brosh McKenna admitted that they had been looking forward to writing this episode for years. I’d heard only complimentary things about it before it aired, so it had pretty high expectations to meet. And it met them.

We start right where we left off, with Paula, Heather, Darryl, and Velncia confronting Rebecca in “a convention” (not an intervention) as she was trying to run off with Nathaniel. While they appear to only want to help Rebecca and suggest getting her help, Rebecca responds exceptionally badly to their efforts. She immediately turns against each of them, drawing on their worst insecurities to insult them. It was an extremely painful scene to watch. We know how much each of these individuals mean to Rebecca — especially Paula — and you could even see how much it hurt her to say them as brief expressions of remorse and pain would pass over her face after each vitriolic comment. But her insults were even more upsetting for everyone in the room — and for viewers.

I was happy to see that her actions didn’t change her friends’ feelings toward her. Sure, Valencia was pissed and ready to “yank her pony,” but she was still out searching for her afterward. Even Nathaniel was staying at her house, waiting for her, and calling the police after discovering the truth. Despite his claims of knowing her best after sleeping with her twice (which shows how few real relationships Nathaniel has had in his life, friends or otherwise), I had thought Nathaniel was the most likely person to ditch Rebecca after finding out the truth, but by the end of the episode, he was still in her room, cuddling her crocodile, waiting.

Unfortunately, Rebecca doesn’t see this love and instead feels she’s pushed all her friends away. So instead of returning home, she’s hiding out at a local youth hostel, where she befriends an Erika Christensen-loving (who doesn’t love Erika Christensen?) Danish tourist named Jarl. And through their shared love of Swimfan, Rebecca knows her next move.


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