Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Recap: The Math of Love Triangles

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

All Signs Point to Josh … Or Is It Josh's Friend?
Season 2 Episode 3
Editor’s Rating *****
All Signs Point To Josh...Or Is It Josh\'s Friend?
Santino Fontana as Greg, Rachel Bloom as Rebecca, Vincent Rodriguez III as Josh. Photo: Robert Voets/The CW

I’d like to talk about tonight’s especially compelling moment on a romantic bridge — but it’s probably not the one you’re thinking of. Rather, it’s when Rebecca and Greg discuss Darryl and White Josh. “They’re a great couple,” she says. “God, I ship them so hard,” he responds. It’s a moment that’s meant to be an underlying wink to all the die-hards who post “Grebecca” GIFs on Tumblr, but it also reveals the show’s hand. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend knows that you ship Grebecca (or Rebecca-Josh), and tonight’s episode is here to remind you that most fantasies are just disasters waiting to happen. Except for WhiJo-Darryl, of course.

After all, Rebecca’s blowup with Josh is inevitable. He was never all that into her, and she was indeed acting as an Airbnb with benefits while he processed his breakup with Valencia. But the way Rebecca finally broke the camel’s back — by revealing a pregnancy without even taking a test first, then walking it back when she got her period, in what Josh describes as “the most upsetting three minutes of my life” — ultimately indicates that she doesn’t yet have the emotional maturity to be with anyone, as Dr. Akopian points out.

Instead of absorbing that lesson, though, Rebecca just pivots to her backup option — a move that will be crushingly familiar to anyone who’s ever had a backup option. (Or anyone who’s been that backup option.) And so, Rebecca realigns the noise of “signs” she receives to Greg’s signal, justifying her selfish choice with rom-com logic: “Duh, it’s the other guy! It’s the guy under my nose all along, that I underappreciated!” Instead of seeing that neither relationship is real, she mentally casts herself as the babyish Marilyn Monroe that no man can resist.

It’s hard to talk about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend without getting personal, but if you haven’t done any of the above things, you are a better person than I am. Everyone wants to be the star of their own show; everyone wants life to be as romantic as the movies. That’s why all of the other characters in the episode are tempted by signs and signifiers. But Rebecca’s seemingly adorable love triangle is a Trojan horse, intended to make you examine the times you’ve acted similarly in your own life. And if you’ve once again fallen into the trap of rooting for Grebecca to come to fruition, this episode forces you to consider a deeper question: Do you actually care about either half of that portmanteau?

The result is ambiguous, queasy, and a total subversion of the hoary rom-com staple that finds someone rushing to the airport to stop a love interest. As much as I love Santino Fontana, and would be devastated if Greg were written off the show, rooting for Greg to dump business school and stay with Rebecca felt like rooting for the monster in a horror film. The quiet moment in which Greg and Josh make peace only twists the knife even more. It takes real skill to turn such a socially conditioned “good outcome” into a moment of genuine terror, and I’m riveted by this high-wire act. Where might it go next?

As if that wasn’t enough, I think that it’s highly likely that CXG will soon grapple with abortion. The show’s hinted at a willingness to talk about the issue in the past — one of Rebecca’s fellow flyers in last season’s “Dream Ghost” was weighing if she wanted to terminate a pregnancy — but the revelation of Paula’s pregnancy couldn’t be more of a common scenario in terms of real-life termination. It’s a late-in-life pregnancy, she and her husband are strapped for cash, and like the majority of women who have abortions, she already has children. Let’s not forgot that she’s about to realize her dream of attending law school, either.

I don’t know if a network show would actually stomach an abortion plotline — even Mad Men turfed out on it twice — but in the real world, Paula would at least consider terminating her pregnancy. (Especially since she doesn’t appear to be religious.) On the other hand, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend isn’t afraid to get into the messy reality of women’s bodies: I’ve never seen a show with more jokes about UTIs, yeast infections, periods (this episode’s segment with Rebecca and Paula joking about their period-timing “blood coven” is both hilarious and totally accurate), and/or losing continence after having two kids. Even if Paula does decide to have a baby, I’d be surprised if CXG doesn’t show her giving real thought to the option. And I’m on tenterhooks to see how they handle it.

Other Notes:

  • I’m not entirely over shipping, because I am shipping Darryl actually being Paula’s best friend harder than ever. That scene where he got her into law school early and surprised her with Working Girl pumps made me tear up.
  • Speaking of Darryl being thirsty, I like that CXG outright acknowledges that Paula and Rebecca are always skipping out on work — and that instead of being angry, Darryl just wants to go with them. (Rebecca tells Greg that “I’m literally never there, and it’s a miracle I’m not fired,” which I could see coming back into play just like her spending habits did last season.)
  • My favorite part of the triangle song is when the chorus of gay math teachers sing, “We’re tired of all your tangents / That’s also a triangle pun.” Their collective look of pure self-satisfaction really sells it.
  • Greg’s dad is moving to the retirement equivalent of Arrested Development’s Fuck City. “It’s called Barely Seniors. It’s single seniors. Insane. I’m gonna be hitting on foxy widows at a swim-up bar.”
  • Rebecca’s aborted “Period Sex” song seems like the show’s criticizing itself for always taking on these kinds of topics, but I still wish there had been enough time for a full rendition. “Period sex, period sex / Put down a towel, party ’til it’s dry with some period sex.”

Crazy Ex-GF Recap: The Math of Love Triangles