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.
Of course, through Rebecca’s hopefulness, there was something tugging at me as a viewer: it can’t be that easy. If it were some easy diagnosis, Dr. Shin could’ve simply shared it in her hospital room. No, something was not going to be as wonderful as Rebecca’s incredible Broadway-inspired number would imply.
And then the news dropped: Rebecca has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Before seeing this episode, I’d never heard of BPD. The writers could’ve easily chosen something familiar for viewers to discover: OCD, anxiety, depression, PTSD. And Dr. Shin admits she has some of these. But here, they smartly introduced something that some viewers may not have heard of — but still prevalent enough that people who do have it or know someone who has it can relate to.
It wasn’t a diagnosis Rebecca was expecting, and in true Rebecca fashion, she immediately looked it up online (despite her doctor telling her not to) and read the worst 2.5 sentences she’s ever read in her life. The brief snippets she digests are negative, and unsurprisingly, she’s upset.
There are a lot of ways Rebecca could have gone at this point. She could have denied it, ignored treatment (permanently, that is; she did skip group therapy). She could have run again. She could’ve lashed out at Dr. Shin and everyone else around her again. But instead, she ends up in Dr. Akopian’s office, moving down a checklist that indicates whether someone may have BPD. Nine things — all of which Rebecca has. It’s a somber moment as Rebecca discovers the truth, but it’s enough to convince her that she needs to accept her diagnosis and find a way to move forward.
You’d think that this would be the part that would be the hardest to digest and saddest to watch. But there’s even more. As Rebecca watches Valencia breaking down (we’ll get to Valencia in more detail below), she confesses that she can’t make any promises. She can’t promise to others — or even herself — that she won’t try to hurt herself again. It was true, raw, and painful to hear. But she said it calmly and accepting. And she was in a better place by the end of the episode, workbook in hand.
If Rebecca’s journey in this episode (and the episodes that lead up to it) tell us anything, it’s that the path ahead for Rebecca is going to be vastly different from what came before. We still don’t know what her treatment will entail — and I’m really looking forward to at least one entertaining musical number in group therapy — so a lot is still up in the air. It’s not going to be easy, I’m sure. We’re not going to see some even-keeled Rebecca. As for those questions I asked at the top, I think we’ll probably see a mix of them all: glimpses of the Rebecca we’d known and love, some downward swings that show that she still needs to heal, but definitely some changes in terms of growth. And hope.
Now, as for everyone else in the episode…
Unsurprisingly, Paula, Heather, and Valencia were right by Rebecca’s side after her suicide attempt, each handling it in her own way. Paula was mothering Rebecca, ignoring her family to be by her side every moment of the day — something that I’m sure will become a major issue, based on the number of times that it was brought up in this episode and the last two, and the focus on Paula’s own hand and wedding ring when she was holding Rebecca’s in the hospital (in a moment of comforting Rebecca, you’d think they’d focus on Rebecca’s hand, not Paula’s). Heather was supportive in her own detached way, and then there was Valencia.
We haven’t seen much of Valencia, and it was nice to see her featured so prominently in this episode, even if it was in a rather self-absorbed way. I actually enjoyed seeing how her social videos were progressively getting farther and farther away from actually helping Rebecca. You almost thought she was completely not bothered by what she was witnessing — that is, until she thought Rebecca tried to kill herself again in the bathroom and burst into tears. It was a good reminder of how close they did become and how much Valencia has grown (and hasn’t) since we met her in the first season. She never had girl friends before, especially someone like Rebecca, and she didn’t want to lose that.
My one complaint (and I know I’m in the minority): While I loved that Valencia had a solo — and she rocked it — I may have actually enjoyed it more if she were actually singing about a social movement, while balancing her own selfishness. Poop humor isn’t really my thing.
Of course, Josh would make this entire thing about himself. Sure, I understand that he would feel guilt about his fight with Rebecca, but he still made it all about himself. And as I was reading some other articles about and reviews of this episode, I was reminded that this wasn’t the first time. He acted in a very similar way when he found out that Greg was an alcoholic.
And it wasn’t that he even wanted to make sure Rebecca was ok. He wanted to clarify that he didn’t mean he wanted to see her dead. That he didn’t assist a mortal sin (this perspective showing us again how happy we should be that he quit
preschool priest school). He wanted to alleviate his own guilt.
Thank god for Hector. His conversation with Josh (even if Josh ignored his advice) was fantastic — and once again tried to open the viewers’ eyes to what suicide is really about. It’s not about one isolated event but a larger mental illness. But Josh wouldn’t hear it, and he shows up at Rebecca’s house with a puppy of all things (because that’s an appropriate present).
And yet, at the end, he seemed upset to hear that Rebecca didn’t think of him, that everything that she’s been doing and dealing with had nothing to do with him at all: “Josh is irrelevant. Maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with Josh. Maybe it never did.”
I can’t bring myself to feel bad for Josh. He’s been selfish this entire season, bordering on uncaring. His motivations have nothing to do with those around him. All he wants to do is clear his own conscience.
And on the other side of the coin is Nathaniel, who in his path to supporting Rebecca discovered his own demons. We got a pretty dark view into his family life in this episode, something that I never really thought much about. Sure, we knew his dad was a jerk, but no we’re discovering that he’s not just bad, but he’s (as Jean-Ralphio of Parks and Rec fame would say) the worst.
Nathaniel can’t process what Rebecca has gone through because he keeps seeing what his own mother went through when he was 10. And when he went home looking for answers, his father and mother lie, and then his father eventually kicks him out. (For ruining the night — after all, they were having lamb.)
But Nathaniel does come back and discover the truth of his mother, that she had an accident with sleeping pills when she was having a tough time back then. And while this was news to Nathaniel, it came at a moment he could appreciate: He finally had a real conversation with his mom.
Which meant he could then truly express his really thoughts, feelings, and support for Rebecca. His mother’s home-grown roses were more personal than any online message or corporate flower gift, and were hand-delivered with Ruth Gator Ginsberg in tow. Rebecca seemed surprised and touched by his gesture. While I doubt romance will be in Rebecca’s focus in any immediate future, it did give us a glimmer of what exists between them, and shows how much Nathaniel is softening.
- I know Darryl’s absence made sense, and his bringing up Josh in the end was a perfect way to introduce Rebecca’s discovery that Josh is irrelevant, but I did miss him in this episode. It was pretty funny hearing Nathaniel, of all people, know that Darryl is in a yurt off the grid.
- I wonder if part of the reason Darryl was missing was because he’s a little too much comic relief in an episode that needed to be toned down. After all, we didn’t get any Maya either, and I’d imagine she’d have some great gif-able reactions to everything happening.
- Of course, as soon as you tell someone not to look something up on the internet, they will. It’s a WebMD world, and we’re all just living in it.
- Loved the callback to the theme song. Not sure Rebecca needed to explain it more than “I was watching videos with my earbuds in,” but either way, it was a great moment.
- Heather and the ax. “I live in a famous murder house. You don’t think I’d have an ax?” It’s that much funnier when you realize that she kept it, even after they got rid of all the other sharp implements in the house.
- I also enjoyed seeing Paula, Heather, and Valencia all curled up outside Rebecca’s door. #gurlgroup4evah is right.
- While I like Dr. Shin, I hope this isn’t the last we see of Dr. Akopian. She’s really been so great in every episode she’s been in. Her facial expressions and reactions to characters’ bahviors speak volumes. And we know she can sing.
- Kevin. What a great surprise to see him in therapy because he’s too happy. And the realization with his parents (and the cry outside the door). Wow. Talk about unexpected backstory.
- I really love where we left Rebecca, especially her very real discussion with Valencia. I know I said it above, but it’s worth reiterating. It was hard to hear, that she can’t make any promises to anyone, but she seems to be in a better place. It’ll be a tough road, but I’m looking to see where it goes.