I first watched this episode on Monday, and watching it again after the election was hard. I understand that not every American who watches Crazy Ex-Girlfriend will be a Hillary Clinton voter — and that not every Clinton voter is pro-choice — but Rachel Bloom and her writing staff are both. Along with the show's typical aims, this week's episode was clearly written to be a triumphant endcap to a Hillary victory, most notably with regards to Paula's subplot.
In choosing to terminate her pregnancy, Paula represents a fact that's rarely shown on television: More than half of women who have abortions are already mothers. And the episode's sly reveal of her decision via offscreen dialogue ("Mom, I'll get it, since you just had an abortion!") is a game-changer, too.
For women who've seen a million shows and films in which female characters agonize over this decision (and then hardly ever choose to terminate their pregnancies), it's refreshing to see someone face this choice who knows the stakes — who's not, as Paula puts it, "a teenager the month after winter formal." It's refreshing to see CXG acknowledge that this decision might be different for Paula (and other women like her) if affordable child care were an option. It's refreshing to see a show where a woman's personal growth and autonomy come first. And it's refreshing to see abortion portrayed as the reality it is for many women: a safe, legal, semi-painful medical procedure that can be made without regrets and tears, and maybe even on a day when you can still be excited about pizza for dinner.
And now all of that could be taken away.
This episode gets another crucial thing right: Despite being confident in her choice, Paula can't even bring herself to tell Rebecca, her closest friend. For many reasons, it's not uncommon for women who have abortions to keep it between themselves and their families, or maybe tell no one at all. Perhaps there's a lesson to be learned there. If women — especially the women who, like Paula, haven't seen a winter formal in decades — break this taboo and become more vocal about the decisions we've made for ourselves, our bodies, and our families, maybe people will better understand why. Maybe politicians will consider the serious consequences of taking our rights away.
I'm glad Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is willing to contribute to that conversation, and to take on the flak it will inevitably receive. This show is not just funny and entertaining, it's also brave.
As for Rebecca, it's no coincidence that her plot revolves around entering a beauty pageant. This show is so good at subverting romantic tropes, and it does so again with Rebecca's makeover. When it comes to breakups, women so often choose to take it out on themselves and their outside appearances, fighting to achieve some mystical idea of desirability rather than pause to care for their insides. Rebecca can try all she wants to be "a gorgeous mermaid who grew feet and went to Coachella," but she's best when she's just herself. Considering we now have a president-elect who literally profited by judging women on their looks (to say nothing of his private decisions in that arena), that's an important point to make.
And while both real and "polter-guy" Josh and Greg get so many great turns in this episode — "Shitshow" is a pantheon-level relationship song, and "We Tapped That Ass All Over This House" is both hysterical and features some terrific dancing — it's interesting to see that CXG is writing off Rebecca's love interests for now. It's a bold, exciting choice for the show to move into more of a female-centric (plus Darryl) format.
I love that Heather won the Miss Douche crown (I cackled when she answered the company CEO with her standard "…I'm a student"), and having her fly the nest to live with Rebecca is a great way to put her more in play, if only because her putdowns have been sorely missed this season. And I'm particularly fascinated to see what happens with Valencia, who's clearly not taking the breakup well (no makeup, housing carbs), but who may be able to find some real kinship with both Rebecca and Heather in that department.
In a world that suddenly feels much more uncertain for women, people of color, Jewish people, and LGBT people — all of whom are represented on CXG — I'm glad that I can watch a show in which they really do stick together and help each other. I look forward to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend providing some much-needed laughter in the weeks to come.
- For those who may have been too young to see the video, Rebecca's "Hey Mickey"-inspired makeover song is a pitch-perfect parody of Toni Basil's original, though the terrific "I had a stroke!" kicker is all hers.
- After being saved from peril a number of times, it appears Joshy Bear finally bit it in Rebecca's house fire. RIP, Joshy Bear. Also, it looks like Emory will have to get rid of her REBECCA sweatshirt.
- Impossible to choose a favorite lyric from "Shitshow." "We can't unscrew each other's friends / We're Jerry Springer, not Casablanca" or "But after sex / What happens next / I mean, in the long run, not just fatigue and hunger?"
- I love that the CXG writers have enough attention to detail to bring back the vegan taco guy to remind Rebecca that he tapped her ass, too.
- It's also nice to see the return of Karen, who gets some great lines. "If I were you, I'd start working on an alias. Mine would be … Eva Longoria." "That already is someone." "Is it? [winks]"
- Even in distress, Rebecca always knows how to give good parent. "Strawberry cat ears or blueberry smiles on those flapjacks?" "Get out of my head, you angel. Both! I'll take both!"