CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND has always been many things but it may have just become the show about female friendship that it needs to be. Ushering Rebecca’s romantic fever dreams out the door, she now has to contend with reality and figure out who she actually is. I couldn’t be happier about it. “When Will Josh and His Friend Leave Me Alone” does a lot of that work in Rebecca’s head.
A whole lot happened this week so let’s break it down. First, Greg actually left. Then Rebecca had a meltdown that involved ex-boyfriends tap dancing in her head and ultimately decided to enter a contest to be “Miss Douche.” Paula saves the day at the law firm and figures out what to do about her pregnancy, and we meet Heather’s comically “supportive” parents.
I love that this is the fourth episode of the second season and already we’ve exploded Rebecca’s ridiculous romance fantasies, at least partially. It is so easy to bog a story down in cyclical relationship drama just for the sake of drama, but the whole point of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is that to believe all those cultural lies is a recipe for disaster. Greg goes off to Atlanta to get on with his life and sings a few wonderful songs as he goes. The songs this time around were a sort of 1960s “I Did It My Way” farewell, a “Moses Supposes” tap dance number (my favorite), and a peppy ’80s cheerleading thing. Seriously, a huge part of the fun is how meta this show is on so many different levels. First, Rebecca is actively narrating her life and punctuating it with musical numbers which gives it that first level of self-awareness. But second, all of the numbers pull from so many different sources musically, stylistically, and in choreography that it adds a ton of references and interconnections that make you feel smart when they click with you. That’s one of the ultimate tricks of cult television but it’s usually a sci-fi thing, not some show (pretending to be) about mundane life.
After Rebecca’s life crashes and she lights her apartment on fire she ends up at Heather’s house and we meet Heather’s hilariously sweet parents. Here too I love what they’ve done with those characters who reward failure above all else. Rebecca’s pathetic surrender galvanizes Heather to get her act together. I liked the way Heather’s parents were portrayed because they’re both the exact opposite of Rebecca’s but equally bad. However, the show doesn’t villainize them or make fun of them—they’re just part of a peripheral joke that has a point. For being so concerned with touchy subjects, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend rarely if ever goes in for cruelty. Even Valencia is a largely sympathetic character. Also, Rebecca steadfastly rejecting the notion that she “be herself” and then freaking out about it was spot on. If your entire life is a rat race in which other people define you it’s incredibly difficult to even know who you are, let alone be that person. And it’s always terrifying because there’s always that fear that whoever you are isn’t good enough and everyone will reject you. Becoming an Instagram Hot Girl to literally be a douche spokesperson was beyond perfect symbolism. Mad kudos, show.
I want to talk about Paula and her abortion because they made it a hard choice but they neither dragged it out for drama nor did they moralize on the subject in either direction. Paula’s pregnancy was one of those things most shows would make a huge deal out of. Instead, Paula is faced with the choice of a future she doesn’t want or finally following her dreams. Rebecca’s meltdown gives Paula enough space to figure out that she’s really good at law and that helps her figure out what she should do. I love that. There’s no preaching, no rousing statements—nothing but Paula having to make a hard choice about the kind of life she wants to live. As per usual, this show cuts through a whole bunch of crap narratives and offers one that’s far more realistic. I do wonder if she’ll ever tell Rebecca about it though. Right now their relationship is one-sided just because Rebecca is a headcase and even when Paula tries to share her life, Rebecca usually just blows her off.
The extra fun comes from the fact that Yael Grobglas guest starred as the CEO of a company called “Miss Douche” and the episode took full advantage of every possible pun and double meaning that it could. For a second I thought things were going to get crazy and Rebecca was going to be a douche spokesperson, but no, no. We’re still on track. Heather as the disaffected “modern” face of a douche company is infinitely better anyway. The thing that made me squeal in delight was that Rebecca and Heather are moving in together. This is perfect for so many reasons. It gives Rebecca accessible narrative possibilities beyond obsessing over boys. It’s the marvelous female friendship narrative that the show needs to transition into. It provides a constant rational voice to counteract Rebecca’s insane flights of fancy. It’s so much goodness.
I am still curious: do the rest of you guys have a painful time watching this show or is that just me? I adore it but man, it hurts sometimes. It’s far more effective than any therapy I’ve ever had though which speaks both to the quality of mental healthcare in the US and the quality of this series.
Yay for lady friends, respectful rational decisions, and the kind of surrealistic goofiness this show always manages to nail. Watching an episode always wrecks me a little bit but it gives me an equal amount of happiness in return. This one was no exception.
Season 2, Episode 4 (S02E04)
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.
Follow Dana on Twitter: @DanaLeighBrand
Keep up with all of Dana’s reviews here.
Dana Leigh Brand | Contributor