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”

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

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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.

Swimchan.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Josh Is a Liar


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CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND: 3.03 “Josh is a Liar”

Josh is a lying, liar, lie-man. Well, at least that’s what Rebecca wants us to believe.

I have to give Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s writers credit. They are able to create just the right balance in an episode to make you feel for a character, even though sometimes that character does really despicable things. I still truly feel for Rebecca, especially since we know that her anxiety is so overwhelming that she’s literally seeing and talking a figment in the form of her teenage self. But at the same time, she did try ruin Josh in a terrible way — so terrible that she was even able to see how wrong her plan was both before she started her plan to discredit him (after all, she did something similar when she was young, all because the girl saw Rebecca stuff her bra) and when she saw his friends turn against him when they thought he was a homophobic racist who lied about listening to Hector’s podcast. (I really hope we get to hear some of this podcast one day, by the way.)

All of this, of course, is in response to Rebecca’s outbursts in the church in the last episode, confessing the many things he “made” her do — handing him his defense, as young Rebecca aptly points out, so it would throw her entire lawsuit out the window. And while at first she decided to just drop the suit and let it go (he is isolated in preschool priest school, after all), that all changes once she finds out that he’s on his way home. Then comes the ugly plan of essentially slandering him all over the blogosphere, which turns his friends against him. No one believes it when he tells them what Rebecca has done since coming to West Covina.

This is a terrible way to treat Josh. Now, I’m currently not a Josh fan — he doesn’t seem to see anything wrong with what he did to Rebecca, leaving her at the altar on her wedding day — but Rebecca’s actions seem less to do with revenge and more to do with saving her own skin. Not only does she hurt Josh, but at first she was even willing to hurt her best friend Paula, eroding her confidence in order to convince her not to do the lawsuit when a simple “I changed my mind” would have sufficed. Plus, there’s poor Heather who Rebecca completely ignores when she needs her. And Nathaniel…

Ok, before diving into that bag of zoo-issued animal feed, let’s talk about Heather. This is a really interesting direction for her. I always chuckled when Heather would say, “I’m a student,” any time someone asked about her, but it’s even better knowing how much this little statement contributed to her identity. She’s taken every course in her community college — some of them twice — and now she’s being forced out. She’s done well as a student. After all, the only way she can flunk now is to kill Estrella, her starfish, because she’s “doing so well.” Rebecca seems so flippant at the solution, but Heather is aghast. And after looking deeply into Estrella’s five eyes, she just can’t do it. What happens next for Heather? I have no clue.

And while this story line is a great transition to do more for Heather throughout the season (yay!), it also came with a great song. Sure, they could have easily had Heather sing an uplifting song about graduating — or sing a sad song about not wanting to leave. But forcing her to sing an uplifting song begrudgingly while classmates danced around her and coming face to face with her future self was both fun and brilliant. And juxtaposing her lack of enthusism with the dancers’ overenthusiam had me laughing on my couch. It was a great number for Heather, who we very rarely see sing, let alone solo.

Then there’s Nathaniel. I’m still scratching my head a bit about how Nathaniel has somehow lost all his cool now that he’s developing feelings for Rebecca. It’s something I mentioned in response to his actions in the season premiere. And at first, I didn’t quite get his song either. As someone who has never seen a Drake music video until doing research for this writeup (thank you, EW, for noting the video this was a parody of), I didn’t quite get it. The fact that he visits the zoo when he’s down at night to feel better is funny, but strange. It felt forced. A fun song, to be sure, but an oddball. It didn’t relate to his character to me — almost like the song was simply written to highlight the most random thing that you could do to cheer yourself up from heartache, rather than the most random thing that Nathaniel specifically would do. It made for a fun number, but I was puzzled watching it.

But it did lead to his arriving at Rebecca’s apartment as she’s ready to skip town. After she sees Paula find out the truth about Robert (a heartbreaking scene, by the way. Paula’s face almost made me teary with how shocked and hurt she was), she realizes her life in West Covina is over. Nathaniel has a jet, so sure, he’s a great way out, even if his confession of feelings for her was all cliches. But just as they get to the door, Paula bursts in — with Valencia and Darryl — and we have to wait until next week to find out what happens next.

Now, I have no idea how her friends will respond to the news (and personally, I think it’s rather rude of Paula to loop in her friends without confronting Rebecca first). I doubt they’ll all be angry, at least not so much that they’re no longer friends with Rebecca. There will likely be trust issues, but I almost wonder if someone like Heather will find Rebecca’s past interesting or cool — or maybe Darryl will understand because “she was a fool in love.” I do hope there are some consequences, though. They’ll be tough to watch, but watching Rebecca work through complex emotion has always been a highlight of the show.

A few other thoughts:

  • Let’s be honest: Even if Rebecca didn’t discredit Josh, it would be hard for his friends to believe him. He really did sound like a crazy person (pardon the term), especially since Rebecca is so established and respectable as a lawyer.
  • Rachel Bloom and Ava Acres were absolutely dynamite together. It’s unfortunate there aren’t more opportunities to throw them together more often. “Loony, loony, loony.”
  • I said it above, but it’s worth reiterating: Paula’s reaction to seeing Rebecca’s past was just heartbreaking. When she says that they never knew her at all… Kudos, Donna Lynne Champlin. Also worth noting how tough it was to see Rebecca talk down to Paula, claiming her work wasn’t up to par in the case, and that it’s all because she’s still learning. We all know that Paula is better than subpar work.
  • Did Rebecca actually confess to putting a GPS tracker on Josh’s car? I don’t remember this.
  • The aquarium: It’s like the zoo for fishies.

And that’s it for this week. Thanks for reading. As Josh Chan says, “I love it when sentences work out.”

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: “To Josh, With Love”

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Photo by Scott Everett White/The CW

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND: 3.02 “To Josh, With Love”

So much to say in this jam-packed episode! But let’s start with this: I was true to my word and learned my lesson. Even though the show released not one, not two, but three songs in advance of the episode, I didn’t watch any. I didn’t want to spoil any of the musical numbers after last week — not even the theme — so that I would be surprised.

I’m so glad I did. With four musical numbers and a new theme song in this episode, I was thrilled to see it without any clue of what was coming. And I really enjoyed it. Well, most of it. But we’ll get there.

Let’s start with the theme song. It always takes a little bit of adjustment to say good-bye to the old theme song and digest a new one. I was someone who struggled to move on to last season’s theme after falling in love with first season’s. But I eventually learned to love it. Now knowing the drill, I was just curious what they’d do next. The verdict? It’s great. True, it’s not as catchy and quippy as the previous tunes, but I like what the show is trying to do with it by depicting four ways that “crazy” is described in pop culture and music. (Read all about it here.) Rachel Bloom is able to take over every persona with ease, and I really applaud it. And if earworm-worthiness is any indication, I’ve already memorized it, and it’s been in my head for a day now. So successful on that level, too.

Shifting from the theme song, we go right into the episode, following up on Paula and Rebecca’s plan to sue Josh as a course of revenge. Rebecca finally confesses that this isn’t the plan she was hoping for, but even that falls flat. For being the only scene between Paula and Rebecca in the episode, the scene is rather forgettable (with the exception of a good back and forth about having a shoplifting phase), but shifts us into a absolutely delightful song by Josh.

I’m not even sure what I’m supposed to say about “Head in the Clouds.” I had a large smile plastered all over my face through the entire number, and it was wonderful seeing Vincent Rodriguez III do some classic dance moves. The wordplay was so fun — and any song that has someone dancing with the Holy Ghost is worth calling out. This song may fall into my “top songs from Crazy Ex” list, which is tough since so many of the songs on the show are well-written, well-choreographed, and superbly performed.

Outside of the dance moves, we see that, unsurprisingly, Josh’s plan to enter the priesthood was not quite as dreamy as he’d hoped, and it was more of a way to escape his guilt than anything else — something Father Rodrigo questioned within moments of meeting Josh (clearly, Josh isn’t the first person to try this little trick). It’s almost as though this was Josh’s way of proving that he was still a good person (in fact, I was partially expecting an “I’m a Good Person” reprise from Josh; I suppose that could still come). Not only did Josh continuously show us how much he was not positioned to be a priest — his prayers were comparable to Aladdin making a wish to a magic genie — but his actions became more and more selfish. Hector and White Josh even called him out it: This was really just a way for him to get out of an awkward conversation. White Josh said it brilliantly when he said, “You just Father, Son, and Holy Ghosted your entirely life!”

Meanwhile, Rebecca is on a path to be bad, but she’s terrible at it. Enter Nathaniel.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: “Josh’s Ex-Girlfriend Wants Revenge”

Crazy Ex Girlfriend - Greg GaynePhoto by Greg Gayne/The CW

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND: 3.01 “Josh’s Ex-Girlfriend Wants Revenge”

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is back with a vengeance — or at least Rebecca Bunch is.

After being left at the altar, we find Rebecca… Well, actually, we don’t find Rebecca at all. Shortly after her wedding day, Rebecca is nowhere to be seen. Which is piquing everyone’s interest. “The whole town is all a-twitter (since the whole town is on Twitter),” according to the song at least.

This means people are bugging Paula, even though she hasn’t even seen our leading lady. Boxes are piling up. Coworkers are concerned. Nathaniel is looking pensive. And through a great musical number that involves the entire cast (which is a first on the show, I believe, the closest being “California Christmastime,” if my memory serves), we finally discover that Rebecca is sulking in a West Covina hotel, unsure what to do next. That is until she decides that, yes, revenge is the best option.

I personally knew this was going to go down this way, only because I’d seen this incredibly fun musical number in advance of the premiere. (The show released the two musical numbers from the premiere earlier this week.) The rest of the show, of course, was a mystery.

And overall, I enjoyed it. Was it the strongest episode? No. Was it the best way to start a season? I also think no.

Keep in mind that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is probably my favorite show currently on TV. I’m constantly impressed by its creativity, fresh writing, engaging plots (especially involving Rebecca’s mental issues), and of course, musical numbers. So I naturally put the show at a higher standard than some of the other shows out there. And when I nitpick, they’re exactly that: nitpicks. This show is still excellent.

But last night’s episode did leave me a little bothered, particularly by the B-plots. Rebecca’s vengeance storyline was right in line with the type of person Rebecca is: denying her real feelings and replacing them with ridiculous antics. Both of which completely miss the mark (poop cupcakes and pornos — sounds like a band name). But you’re not at all surprised that Rebecca, the most socially awkward of the girl group, would come up with these ideas.

What wasn’t really in line with the characters were the other stories. While I appreciate that White Josh and Darryl are not the perfect, no-problem couple that we saw last season, Darryl slipped a bit outside of his usual character this episode. I get that he’s anxious to talk to White Josh about having kids. But trying to expedite his journey toward selling these ant bars — in an anteater costume to boot — just to get to that part of their relationship faster was silly. It was something Rebecca would do, not Darryl. Now this could be to show that Rebecca isn’t as much of an oddball as we think, that others have the same idiosyncrasies that she does. But more likely, this was just a comedic antic that missed the mark. One plus: Darryl’s admitting that he’s a catch, and White Josh should see him that way. It was a strong moment for Darryl, and I completely agree.

The other weakness? Paula. Again, happy to see that just because she took her husband back doesn’t mean that her marriage is magically fixed. And it doesn’t at all surprise me that she has a lie detector (though I think they could’ve played that up more and gotten a few more laughs out of it). But the rest? Fell a little flat for me. One plus: Heather analyzing why Paula was acting so crazy…and Scott admitting that he would prefer Paula to simply be Paula. It was sweet.

But back to the good stuff, especially that amazing second number, “Let’s Generalize About Men,” a song that depicts many conversations women have when venting with the girls, yet somehow also points the finger at those who generalize about women on a continuous basis. It was really brilliant, and let’s be honest, fun.

And while, sure, the porno piece was silly, I enjoyed seeing Vincent Rodriguez III play Colin, and his swiftly moving through many accents was great. I missed seeing the real Josh in the episode and seeing what he’s up to, so it was a fun way to get the actor involved in a different way. (Though let’s be honest, how did they spend the majority of the episode talking about a “fake Josh” without one White Josh joke?)

Overall, I liked the opener, and I can’t wait until next week (I hear, by the way, that we’ll see the third season theme song next week — something I’m super anxious to see). And I’d imagine that a lot of the flaws I saw in the opener was in part due to my seeing the musical numbers in advance of the episode. Usually the flash and surprise of the numbers distract from any weak points in the episode (why wouldn’t they?), but knowing they were coming took some of the unpredictability of the show out of it. My own fault, I know — it was my choice to watch them and spoil them for me — but at the end of the episode, I was just a little disappointed and I think those flaws floated their way to the surface a little more for me.

A few additional notes:

  • I both enjoyed Nathaniel and didn’t in this episode. I thought his concern was endearing, but I also wasn’t quite sure that he would try to show Rebecca his feelings this obviously, awkwardly, and desperately so soon. But his describing the basket he had delivered to her house was certainly adorable.
  • I still love seeing the reactions at the office to the non-work stuff Rebecca does. Her taking over a conference room to plot revenge? Great. (And Heather getting her jacket off a scarecrow? Even better.)
  • The ’80s outfits were great. The shoes were fantastic. Seriously, amazing.
  • So the heck with the #WheresRebeccaBunch hashtag. #WhatAboutJoshChan? I can’t wait to find out.