So I was thinking about CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND a lot while I was writing this review. Not just this episode, but the show in general, and how I try to convince everyone I know to watch it, and how it’s so good but apparently so incredibly weird that no one I babble at bothers to give it a chance. I wonder what it must be like to watch this show without an acute case of complex PTSD and some mental illness thrown in for fun. I’m sure it’s just as charming and ridiculous. But when I watch this show it tends to unravel me and then knit me back together a little better by the end. That’s hard, and that’s painful. It sometimes makes it difficult to put into words how great it is. “All Signs Point to Josh… or Is It Josh’s Friend?” is undeniably just as great as usual, but English is difficult for me today so I apologize. This episode also came perilously close to like all of my most detested tropes and managed to swerve around all of them with aplomb. It made me so happy.
All right, first: there was basically one actual song in this episode but, oh my god, if there’s only going to be one that was the one to have. Let me try to break down Rebecca’s delightful “Love Triangle” number. It was such a close copy of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes that it was almost indistinguishable in staging, which made the juxtapositions in the song itself were even more pronounced. Rebecca acting like she’s too stupid to understand math while a bunch of men are singing about actual geometry was the perfect way to undercut both the absurdity of her flight of fancy and the stupidity of love triangle narratives. It’s so smart my brain (which is currently made of something resembling mashed peas in consistency) can’t express to you why right now except in guffaws and exclamations about how much I love this show. It’s so self-aware that it has yet to stumble once when it comes to tired tropes and damaging cultural narratives. I appreciate it deeply. Personally, I always hate love triangles so singing about actual triangles exposes the plot device as the farce that it is. Also: “Period Sex.” REBECCA. Although I adore how out in the open this show is about what it’s like to live life as a woman. It doesn’t shy away from anything and even stuff that’s normally taboo is the subject of jokes and songs.
The second thing I want to talk about is in two parts. Part A is Rebecca trying to find “signs” in everything, determined that some sort of destiny is driving her life. Part B is all about the pregnancy tropes—i.e. literally my most despised trope ever. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has actually done it perfectly and I’m flabbergasted. So, Part A: Rebecca is crazy. I mean that with all due respect as a fellow crazy. Rather than the sort of covert denial that she had running all last season that being with Josh would fix her life, now that she’s had Josh and her life is still terrible she’s seeking validation in male attention from any avenue that she can. The traditional romcom trope that she’s clawing for is simply that being with “the one” right person will fix your life and that’s such a powerful idea when you are flailing hopelessly in your own mess. Both Paula and Rebecca’s psychiatrist have told her to take some time to focus on herself (and coming from Paula that’s big) but she’s so blinded by her terrible ideas that she can’t do it. The way Rebecca acts reminds me so much of the way I used to be in high school. See, in high school I was even more messed up than I am now and I was convinced (because love stories, duh) that I was unlovable and that the only thing that could fix me was some guy wanting me. I didn’t really care who it was. Then anytime I got a boyfriend I’d freak out because obviously any guy that liked me wasn’t worth anything. I was unlovable! And being with them didn’t fix that! We’re fed these narratives about “love” and “destiny” and we eat them up because they offer an easy solution to all of that terrible, unspeakable, howling pain. I cured myself of romantic nonsense when I got dicked around by one too many TV love triangles about five years ago. I started deconstructing every fictional romantic relationship I come across to the point that only like one even tugs at me at all anymore (and it’s special.) Rebecca never got that disillusionment. She’s adorable as she skips her way through every tired romcom plot that’s ever happened, but it’s like equal parts charming intelligence and a pathetic train wreck. I still laugh out loud constantly when I watch this show but Rebecca is increasingly a sad figure to me, rather than just kooky. I feel like the fiery explosive crash gets closer every week.
Now, Part B. Rebecca’s sudden decision that she is pregnant nailed every single issue I have with that dumb trope and then smashed it all in one go. Barfing instantly meant that she was pregnant. (Ugh. Girl, you’re just sick. Come on.) She believed a baby would bring her and Josh closer together, that it had decided their fate, and that it would solve all of her problems. She basically completely ignored the fact that her crazy face does not need to be raising a child, holy crap. Babies aren’t magical beings that solve all of your problems. They are expensive, a ton of responsibility, and individual people in their own right not robots designed to love you and make your life whole. That’s why Paula being pregnant in the end is such a great twist that I’m still a bit stunned by it. Paula is trying to follow her own dreams and she understands what having a kid means because she has two already and she doesn’t really like either one of them. Paula’s life is completely derailed by a pregnancy and that is infinitely more accurate than Rebecca’s crazy fantasies. This show, y’all. It’s like it’s holding up the gross myths that our stories tell us, giving them a good whacking, and then replacing them with something far more realistic and truthful. I trust that they’ll do just fine handling this plot whatever they choose to do because this is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and the entire point is to always, always know better than to do harmful narrative garbage. This show hurts me to watch but it also feels safe because it’s so particular about its mission statement. I trust that they won’t screw me around.
I also love what they’re doing with Greg but I can’t word about it too much right now. Especially since we don’t know what Greg chooses to do with his life until next week. Ah! I mean, I want Greg to go off and be amazing at life, but I also need Santino Fontana in my life every week, you know? I also thought it was really slick how every character kept seeing signs—both literal and figurative—and they kept pushing people in drastic directions. So good. Much good. Good show. ?
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go sleep off this emotional hangover.
Season 2, Episode 3 (S02E03)
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend airs Fridays at 9PM on The CW
Dana is a digitization archivist by day and a masked pop culture avenger by night. She spreads the gospel of science fiction and fantasy wherever she goes.
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Dana Leigh Brand | Contributor