Photo by the CW
If you haven’t been watching Twitter today, you may have missed the big Crazy Ex-Girlfriend news. It turns out Greg will be making an appearance in the final season of the show—but not the same Greg we knew and loved. Skylar Austin (of Pitch Perfect fame) will be replacing Santino Fontana in the role.
In the few hours it’s been since I heard the news, I’ve had mixed emotions. I trust the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend writing team, sure, but Greg was a fan favorite. He was certainly a favorite of mine. And Fontana made that role come alive. Austin is talented, and no matter what role they put him in, I’m sure that he’ll do a great job. But Greg? That’s a tall order.
According to Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna, it was a creative decision. Bloom notes, “It’s not only a big leap and feels experimental and playful like our show, but as we’ll see when the show airs, it’s a great statement on how our perception of people changes, and Greg is sort of a barometer for how Rebecca changes.”
Keeping in mind that I don’t know much about what’s going to happen this season (and everything that I’m about to say is purely guesswork), my perception of Bloom’s quote is that Greg will turned up a changed man—literally. Or perhaps Rebecca just remembered him in a vastly different way than before. [Cue the many jokes about how “Gee, Greg, you look so different!” and “Wow, Greg, you’ve changed!”] Now, if this is the case, I could see how the writing team can make it work.
But should it?
I rarely criticize Crazy Ex-Girlfriend because it constantly exceeds my expectations and always surprises me. But in this case, I’m not sure the appeal of bringing Greg back. If you’re not bringing back the same actor, how will the fans feel—especially going into the final season of the series? It would change how we look at the character, for sure (perhaps that, too, is the point), but frankly, Astin will just have some large tap shoes to fill. He could be up to the task, but will fans see it that way? And even if the creative team wanted to make the point about changed perceptions, why does that require an entirely new actor?
Now, if you have had conversations with me about the show in the last two years since Fontana left, you’ll know I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed on a Greg return in the final season. But this isn’t what I was expecting. I can’t help but feel disappointed, which isn’t how I want to start the season. I’m trying not to bring myself too down already—again, the writing team always surprises and impresses, so I want to put my trust in them again—but I’m just not sure how I feel about this news. I would’ve preferred a surprise appearance from the original actor, rather than a surprise, head-scratching announcement. And, of course, I mean no offense toward Astin. He’s a talented actor and a fun one to watch (heck, I even watched him in Ground Floor), but it’s just not what I expected from one of my favorite series.
Keep in mind, I’m getting ahead of myself. When we last left Rebecca, she was headed to jail. So who knows what’s next for her. I certainly don’t. So I can’t say this is a bad call or a good one. It’s a creative decision.
But I, for one, miss old Greg. And for now, I stand to be convinced.