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.
The second time, it was different. I started noticing the details — how the people around Rebecca seemed to joke about something she was so seriously dealing with. They complained about her “depression frizz” and referenced murder/suicides (the latter, you could actually see Rebecca wince at). You heard the hope in Rebecca’s voice as she told Audra Levine, “Everything’s different now. My mother accepts me.”
And worse, knowing what’s about to come, you could see every conflicting emotion Rebecca was experiencing on that plane. She was crying out for help long before she pressed that button, telling the flight attendant that she didn’t know if she was ok and that she was “too tired to buy things or do things or get things or say things or face things.” Even then, it didn’t work. No one was there to save her. No friends, no family, no dream ghosts. And then she took the pills.
It was absolutely heartbreaking — again. Even more so than the first time I watched, as I took in every detail. I didn’t sit on the edge of my seat shocked this time, but instead was filled with sadness. I cried, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.
This episode could have been very different. The series didn’t have to have Rebecca bottom out in this way. There are a lot of ways they could have tracked Rebecca back from this terrible path. But the show has never shied away from her mental illness, and it became that much more powerful that they did show it. And it was that much more important that she press the button that said “hope.”
Hope is something that they writers of the show wanted to emphasize, not just in this episode but also in the tweets and stories they shared after the fact. It’s an important message to share, and from the community of support that followed, it spoke to a lot of people. And while I’d like to focus on the hopeful element, what gets me most about this episode are those missing signs — those one-off statements that should signal to someone that something more than simple sadness is happening. But even Naomi, someone who has been with Rebecca through a suicide attempt before, didn’t pick up on it. People around us could be calling out to us just as much, and we don’t notice. We make a joke. We shrug it off. We should be paying attention.
Emotionally intense? Yes. But also powerful, heartbreaking, and important.
Now, for everything else…
- I’m glad they showed Paula after her falling out with Rebecca in the last episode. And her family is so cute. I would also play Fancy Fairy Funhouse with her, by the way.
- If you look closely at Naomi before she brings out the first shake, she comes from the buffet where the pills were hidden.
- I still have a couple of those velour jogging suits from 2004. And I wear them. What can I say? They’re comfy.
- I appreciated the Cornelia storyline, showing through a new face the effect Rebecca had on everyone around her, including Jim. At first, I wasn’t thrilled Jim was such a focal point in this episode, since we’ve barely seen him beyond group settings, but once I started thinking about it, that was the point. She had an effect on even the most minor of characters.
- “What a bunch of needy misfits.” That is such an accurate description of the people in that office.
- Nathaniel’s attachment to Rebecca still surprises me. But hearing him say, “Wherever she is, I hope she’s happy,” was so sad, since we know how unhappy she really was.
- “Maybe She’s Not Such a Heinous Bitch After All” was a fantastic number, striking just the right balance between darkness and chipper enthusiasm, while still telling you a key plot point that ties directly to why Rebecca found hope in her mother’s actions: “Since you were born, she never made you popcorn.”