CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND Review: “Is Josh Free In Two Weeks?”

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“Is Josh Free In Two Weeks?” is the straightest played episode of that they’ve done and hence it felt a bit off to me. That said, by the end they had tears streaming down my face so obviously something worked. What’s the word for an episode that clearly is just moving the story from one important event to another? Setup? That’s what this was. It’s not filler, but it’s not exactly a masterpiece either.

Nothing about this episode was weird except Rebecca herself. I kept expecting songs to show up in places they never did, and Rebecca’s wedding planning went about as well as you’d expect for anyone trying to plan a wedding on their own in two weeks. This was completely straight from start to finish—yes, to include the boss pooping his pants. This show’s usual style casts nearly everything as some kind of bizarre narrative interlude and juxtaposes Rebecca’s internal fantasy world with reality. That didn’t really happen here. She seemed to live in the terrible present the entire time.

Very masculine napping

Very masculine napping

The songs in this episode were almost an afterthought. I enjoyed them. What’s not to love about a hair metal rock anthem to masculine napping? But they popped up quite late in the episode and could just as easily have not been there. It got to a point where I wondered if they were going to do any songs at all. Rebecca pleading with the “normal” delivery guy to tell her that she’s fine is one of those moments where this show hits very close to home for me. The major difference is I stopped actively desiring normalcy years ago. (That’s definitely out of reach so why bother?) The thing that song nailed is that the more you need validation as normal and the harder you try the weirder and weirder you will become. I also love how Hollywood nerds just keep popping up in random roles in this show. This week we got Seth Green as Patrick the very patient delivery guy.

He definitely can feel that he's entered some kind of alternate universe

He definitely can feel that he’s entered some kind of alternate universe

Now, all that said, I really was bawling at the end of the episode. I adore how humanized and independent Valencia is. Wedding planning would be the perfect for her. She’s dictatorial, has impeccable taste, and doesn’t take nonsense from anyone. Rather than leaving Valencia as the stereotypical mean girl who hates women, once she’s away from Josh she’s one of the most realistic and surprisingly supportive characters in the series. She’s still direct to the point of rudeness, but she’s no longer possessive or hateful to other people. Valencia coming to Rebecca’s rescue was the first bit of ultra-satisfying sweetness. From there, the kindness cascaded right up to the very end. Patrick the delivery man was so worried about a crazy chick on his route that he called her best friend to check in. Paula then called Rebecca’s mother and epically chewed her out. Her mom then sent her the perfect dress and Paula kept her secret, which lends validity to Rebecca’s idea that something in her life might be normal and could go right. But I didn’t start crying until Nathaniel and Darryl surprised Rebecca by flying her dad in on a private plane. Seriously, getting me to cry should net a show some kind of special award.

I’m working this theory about romantic relationships which is basically that they will never really work out unless the other person has some kind of comparable life experience to yours. In this case, an incredibly crappy, frigid, authoritarian parent who demands perfection. If someone can’t understand where you come from at all then it’s seriously like talking to someone from another planet. Nothing computes. Nathaniel getting Rebecca’s dad to come to her wedding has sealed the deal for me. It’s the most touching thing anyone on this show has done and it scratches at actual caring and connection rather than fairy tale fantasy. I also greatly enjoy the fact that Nathaniel is hung up on Rebecca and she in turn is frantically clawing at the fantasy life she thinks she wants in order to distract herself. Please give this all to me. See? I say I hate romance but I’m easy. It probably helps that this show is constructed precisely to deconstruct everything I hate about the cultural construct of romance. But that’s neither here nor there.

What is even happening

What is even happening

Relationship drama aside—or perhaps concurrent?—I loved how neither Rebecca nor Nathaniel would ask for help. I know that feel. Even the “napping is a weakness” thing is extremely familiar. Are all the writers on this show recovering damaged people? How do they do this so well every week? Both characters go to extreme lengths to distract themselves from their mutual attraction, Rebecca by speed-planning a wedding and Nathaniel by literally making himself sick. I like that Nathaniel is still strict but no one is really terrified of him anymore. It seems like the entire office has adopted him as a sad little boy who needs a nicer family. He swooped in and established himself in this story astonishingly quickly. I’m constantly impressed by the level of compassion and empathy that this show advocates. It’s like juxtaposing what our culture tells us “love” should be with what love actually is. Bless it.

And, of course, the Trent shocker at the end was the best setup you could ask for. As if the entire wedding situation wasn’t already bizarre enough, throwing crazy stalker Trent into the mix takes it to a completely different level. I also just this second discovered that next week is apparently the season finale? What? No. What? How?

Anyway. This episode was sweet, cute, and funny but I’m docking points for style. I definitely enjoyed it, but it didn’t have that usual flare of meta hijinks with a pinch of insanity.

TB-TV-Grade-B+Season 2, Episode 12 (S02E12)
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend airs Fridays at 9PM on The CW

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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.
Follow Dana on Twitter: @DanaLeighBrand
Keep up with all of Dana’s reviews here.

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