This is the first episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend without Josh’s name in the title! My goodness! “Getting Over Jeff” still has the delightful pattern of making everything about the way our culture frames women only through how they relate to men around them, but in this case it’s a different guy than usual. Perhaps Rebecca is over that obsession now? Maybe she will finally stop and focus on herself? Is this a true turning point or will there be Josh Chan-related backsliding? Fingers crossed for our plucky hero!
Paula gets the spotlight in this episode as it centers a few of the unresolved issues in her past that are holding her back. Rather than being about Josh Chan, the title refers to Paula’s equivalent of Josh Chan: a guy named Jeff Channington. Paula goes back to Buffalo to look after her dad for a few days and Rebecca goes along for the “adventure.” Paula’s dad is horrible but Rebecca gets along with him which leaves Paula free to meet up with her old flame. Jeff is sweet, likes cars, and is still interested in her. Paula escapes her dad’s house and all of her worries by going to flirt over Jeff’s Camaro. I loved the time travel fantasy aspect of Paula’s dalliance made explicit through her Outlander references. Being with her teen crush (and, notably, the “First Penis [She] Saw”–an excellent pop number complete with grocery clerk and old lady backup dancers) helps her to remember what her life was like when it was full of dreams. More importantly, Paula’s growth in this episode emphasizes the importance of choice in resolving the past. It’s like a brief, active therapy session that makes her realize that she doesn’t just have to accept the way her life is now, she has to choose it to be happy. In the end, she realizes that she truly loves her husband and kids rather than viewing them as a chore. She works her way through to that conclusion which is why it’s beautiful. Her love is not a default, but neither is her emotional labor. She realizes that it’s what she actually wants.
Related to Paula’s story is Rebecca’s friendship with Paula’s dad. Paula’s dad has always treated Paula poorly and I was a bit worried they’d try to reframe him as somehow “nice.” Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is really good about it’s relationships, especially the parental ones, so they absolutely don’t go that route. Paula’s dad is still awful to Paula and a horrible person to be around but Rebecca manages to make friends with him largely because she never has to put up with him except in a tiny dose. Rebecca’s Shirley Temple, vaudeville number about why she can get along with him absolutely hits the nail on the head. (Extra points for the guy playing Paula’s dad sounding uncannily like Jimmy Durante!) Superficial relationship can be much easier to get some sort of validation or love from that you can’t get in more acceptable places. Rebecca’s therapy with her new doctor is also terrifyingly Too Real™. So many of things she’s done, said, or that have been said to her are like exact quotes from my life. That’is validating in its own way, and goodness knows I’ve always narrativized my own life so I could get through it. Seeing it all in a smart, funny, adorable show that I love definitely makes me personally feel like less of a disaster. That’s part of what makes me love this show so much. Stories can’t all be dire danger and severe trauma; it’s just as important to have stories that show you what you do after all that when you’re trying to heal from your trauma and get better.
The last piece of this episode was Darryl breaking up with White Josh. While it’s extremely upsetting that they’re not together anymore because they were so sweet and kind and accepting, the way that they broke up was just as gentle as they’ve been throughout their relationship. White Josh has always been the more mature of the two and Darryl’s daughter Madison has to do a bit of caretaking of Darryl’s life to get him to be an adult. While that would bother me if Madison’s caretaking was one-sided, Darryl dotes on her and is even more supportive and loving towards her than she is towards him, as a father should be! Darryl decided that he wants a baby while Josh doesn’t, so they have to call things off because, while they love each other, they want different things in life. The whole scene is excellently written, doesn’t put the blame on anyone, and is extra careful to not turn anyone into the bad guy. They were like the gold standard relationship for this show, but they have the gold standard breakup too. I just hope that White Josh gets to stick around as a semi-regular character now that he’s not with Darryl because White Josh is without question the sanest person in this series.
This show is always a little strange to watch for me. It’s difficult but in a positive way. When the characters have personal and emotional issues they acknowledge them, they talk through their problems, and they work hard at fixing them. It’s always comforting and kind to watch and is an absolutely ideal way to model dealing with mental health problems and developing healthy relationships in the first place. Rebecca and Paula coming to the conclusion that they should be “same size spoons” in their friendship is perfect. There is no better way to say that two people in a healthy relationship need to be equals. In addition to Paula, Rebecca, Darryl, and White Josh all navigating treacherous interpersonal territory, Josh Chan gets Greg’s old job at Home Base and has a few personal crises of his own. He realizes that he’s immature and needs to get his life together rather than continually hiding behind his romantic relationships. Josh has always been dumb but he’s also always been sweet and I hope he gets his own journey to find himself just as Rebecca is getting hers.
I feel like if you watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend from the beginning it’s a bit of an ambush to your psyche. It deconstructs all your own crazy right in front of your eyes, but if you keep going it’ll help you put the pieces back together in a much better configuration. I’m not sure if it has the same effect on everyone else, but that’s definitely part of what makes this show so brilliant for me. It reflects myself back at me a bit too clearly yet it’s gentle in its judgment. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend always emphasizes that anyone can change if they want to and they try hard enough which is something that everyone needs to hear.
Season 3, Episode 7 (S03E07)
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