Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Recap: A Normal Wedding

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Is Josh Free in Two Weeks?
Season 2 Episode 12
Editor’s Rating *****
Is Josh Free in Two Weeks?
Michael McMillian as Tim, Scott Michael Foster as Nathaniel, Pete Gardner as Darryl, Burl Moseley as Jim. Photo: Michael Desmond/The CW

One of the weird ironies of planning a wedding, a ceremony that’s meant to unite two people, is that it can subtly drive wedges between them. Whether you’re the DIY type, like Nova Scotia’s own Dustin and Sasha, or the hardcore wedding-planner type, like Valencia, you’re probably doomed to a rigorous organizational strategy that would be more appropriate for planning a war. Most people aren’t at their best in a situation like that, and conflict inevitably results.

For comedic effect, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has turned this wedding planning process up to 11, and as hilarious as it is, it’s also a bit chilling to watch Rebecca systematically suck the life and purpose out of herself to create more fuel for a wedding. (She’s not alone: Valencia volunteers to be her wedding planner out of a respect for “the institution of weddings,” not the institution of marriage.) Rebecca has actually reached a point where she’s more emotionally intimate with her delivery guy than she is with her fiancé.

The use of Patrick as a framing device is a clever one, and Seth Green delivers an appropriately befuddled performance, particularly in “Tell Me I’m Okay,” which has some great bits of comedic staging to lighten up an otherwise heart-wrenching performance from Rachel Bloom. (The delivery box playing the piano is a highlight of the episode.) Rebecca may look to Patrick for reassurance, but his very presence is a reminder that she is not normal, to use the episode’s watchword. In a normal show, a delivery guy’s presence is ephemeral; making him the special guest star is inherently weird, and subtly cues up Rebecca’s near-breakdown.

As for Valencia, CXG has done commendable work with her this season. She certainly has every right to be mad, as Heather points out, and it would have been so easy to blow up her friendship with Rebecca over this wedding. Instead, the focus is on something far more complex and emotionally honest: Valencia trying to figure out a post-Josh life plan. It takes a lot of sophistication to parse out the grief of a breakup as separate from the grief of the dreams and plans that died with it, and then find a way to turn that into lemonade for a character, too. Even if her presence is Josh’s worst nightmare, Valencia is a terrific wedding planner.

By contrast, the show is still struggling a little bit with Nathaniel. The plotline of a resolutely healthy workaholic in denial about being sick is an old one, and Nathaniel’s dad catching him napping was something I saw coming from a mile away. The execution was still strong and funny — particularly the reactions from Darryl, Paula, and Maya — but I have high expectations for this show, and it doesn’t feel like Nathaniel’s neuroses and his life outside of his dad are fully baked enough.

With that said, Nathaniel “knows what it’s like to care about your dad and what he thinks, even if you wish you didn’t,” and he literally delivers for Rebecca, turning her dad from a distant source of emotional self-flagellation to a present source of emotional support. At the same time, Paula forces Rebecca’s mom to step up — and watching her light Naomi up on the phone was truly glorious.

For a season that’s focused on how Rebecca’s friendships are her true romances, complete with their ups and downs, this is the closest viewers will get to a proposal-level moment. (Especially since Dr. Akopian correctly called bullshit on Rebecca’s real proposal.) It’s moving and genuine, and also necessary, because these are the people who’ll be picking up the pieces after this wedding inevitably goes south.

Other Notes:

  • One reason why this episode feels extra resonant is likely because Rachel Bloom held her wedding a couple of years ago. (Coincidentally, I’ve been to the hotel in Mexico where she got married. It’s gorgeous.)
  • Tovah Feldshuh is the greatest. “Hold for injectables.”
  • The amount of Sunil in this episode is an improvement, but still insufficient. His greeting to Rebecca: “If it isn’t the ingenue beset by tragedy.” Her response: “If it isn’t the plotting understudy waiting in the wings with a bag of marbles.”
  • I like how CXG made sure to emphasize that Rebecca’s “DIY” route is quite pricey. After buying off the other bride, giving up a week’s salary, and splurging on all those $200 labelmakers and soda machines, Rebecca might be in for another financial collapse in season three.
  • “Man Nap” is kind of a throwaway tune, and its aesthetic isn’t that different from “Textastrophe,” but I really love how much Pete Gardner commits to every song he does.
  • This show intimately understands the mindset of overachievers. Rebecca: “I guess Josh and I will just have an F-minus wedding at an A-plus venue, which will make it a C, which everyone knows is actually an F.”
  • The reintroduction of Trent in the button was perfect, because it’s been just long enough to have forgotten about him. This season was nicely planned.
  • The question on my mind for the season finale: Greg is one of Josh’s oldest friends. Will he return to attend the wedding?

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Recap: A Normal Wedding