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

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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

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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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What’s Lacking in Supergirl? Friendships.

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Photo by Dean Buscher/The CW

When Supergirl first premiered on CBS, I didn’t watch it live. I binge-watched the show last summer, and despite the criticism the show seemed to get when it aired (if I recall correctly), I enjoyed it. I knew when I was watching that it was moving to the CW, so I watched it as if it were a CW show. And it fit. It was a CW show. And sure, some episodes were better or weaker than others, but I enjoyed it. Kara Danvers was adorable, awkward, and simply engaging. She had close friendships and a sweet relationship with her family. It was close, loving, and nice. And, of course, it had Cat Grant.

The move to the CW severely hurt the show. The most obvious part was losing Cat Grant and, with it, a lot of the strong female empowerment. But I’m not going to dwell on that. A lot of people have already discussed that, and there’s no reason I need to rehash it here.

But the part that I missed the most was Kara’s friendships. Somehow, the shift to the CW caused Kara’s close relationships to fade into the background. The parts that made Kara the most fun, endearing, and relatable — considering she’s a super-strong alien that was sent to Earth when she was 12 — seemed to disappear. Winn shifted his job to the DEO, and Kara no longer interacted him unless it was on a case. In fact, his major role in the show seems to be spouting facts about bad guys and trading banter with Alex when she was trying to get information out of him. And despite being promoted, James’ role was somehow minimized in the office. He focused his efforts on being Guardian, which he kept hidden from Kara and later caused friction. They made up, but even then, their relationship was essentially separate with each of them focusing on their own crime fighting. They’re more distanced than I’ve ever seen them.

True, Kara still had her relationship with Alex, but it wasn’t quite the same. Most of Alex’s storylines were focused on her relationship with Maggie — a plot point that was a strength of the season — and left little time for gabbing over pizza and sister TV time. They did cover this in the show and how they weren’t spending the same amount of time together, if I recall, but it just wasn’t the same.

Overall, Kara’s time was just not spent with friends. Gone were the days of potstickers and hanging out at the apartment. Even when they would have a drink at the weird alien bar, usually it was for a mere few moments right before one person was dragged away to have a conversation with someone else or go fight a villain. It just wasn’t the same.

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

Crazy Ex Girlfriend - To Josh With Love
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.

So long, TVD. My Thoughts on the Vampire Diaries Finale

I Was Feeling Epic

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: 8.16 “I Was Feeling Epic”

It’s been a long time since I’ve written an episode review here on Raked (it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything, for that matter), but as I was watching and thinking about the final episode if The Vampire Diaries, I kept having thoughts I wanted to share. I spent five years writing about TVD off and on in its eight-season run. It only seems right to return here to write about its series finale.

A little bit of a disclaimer before I go into the details: I didn’t watch this entire season. I watched the first half, got behind, and a few episodes back, just jumped back in without watching a few episodes. I missed how the team got the cure again. I missed Enzo’s death (that’s for the better — I’m not sure I could’ve handled that. It looked brutal). And I missed the whole thing with the bell. But I was able to catch up rather quickly, popping back in right as Stefan becomes human again. So if you see anything here that seems to have missed a beat, well, it could be because I missed it.

I thought this was a great finale. As we approached the start of the episode, I really had no idea how they’d close up the show with so much left to cover. After all, Bonnie was dead or dying. Elena had to wake up (I assumed). Katherine had to come back. They had to deal with Hell on Earth now that Vicki was ringing the bell. And dammit, they needed some sort of happy ending — ok, maybe I just selfishly wanted that. But overall, there was a lot to cover in a mere hour.

And if I’m being honest, sure, there were parts I feel were a little rushed. It seemed a little convenient that Bonnie was able to take down the Hellfire and that she could wake Elena. I wish we had more of Katherine’s antics (though I loved her banter). And Damon — well, I’ll get to Damon in a bit.

But the hour we did get was very well done. My emotions were all over the place (which you could tell by a few of my tweets). There were emotional good-byes, even sadder last messages, and, hey, even some moments of peace.

Let’s start with Bonnie.

Bonnie was fantastic in this episode, and I haven’t really seen her get her due in recaps, given everything else that happened. The way she rediscovered her power was great, but more so, I couldn’t help but feel the power of the Bennett women as they stood around her, helping her push back the Hellfire. (I mean, come on, if you saw Grams and didn’t feel a prickle of tears in your eyes, you must have no soul.) It was a powerful moment. Sure, the idea of the witch with a superspell helping to save the day did remind me a bit of Buffy‘s finale, but it also wasn’t a surprise. Bonnie was always the person who would be ready to risk herself to save everyone else, yet strong enough to push through it. It seemed a fitting fight for her, and I’m happy to see that she was able to continue her life — and truly live it.

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