Say it ain’t so, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
In tonight’s episode, Greg (Santino Fontana) sang the hell out of “It Was a Shit Show,” finally told Rebecca he loved her, and rode an escalator to his new life as a student at Emory University.
Does that mean fan-favorite Greg is gone for good? Indeed, he is.
Vulture caught up with Fontana by phone, who, unlike the other recurring actors on the show, had only signed on for one season. “The CW was kind enough to give me a one-year contract because of what I thought would be best for my family and my life [in New York],” he said. “I never, ever in a million years thought they would let me do that.”
At the end of its first season, it was still unclear whether the show would be picked up for a second. “There was a lot of time where we didn’t know if the show would be coming back,” he explained. “In that interim I had some opportunities both with films and theater and writing that presented themselves, and I had no idea what was going to happen. Also keep in mind, I didn’t know my future with the show regardless, and I didn’t know if the show would be coming back. So when we did get picked up, I was in a really tricky spot because I had a bunch of things that I already committed to, and I couldn’t in good conscience back out of them. It was a really tough decision, and it had a lot to do with my family and my base in New York.”
Showrunner and co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna said that the end of his contract dovetailed with the arc they were envisioning for his character. “When we got picked up [for season one], he went onto a one-year deal, which is what he wanted, but also knowing what we knew about where the story was going to go, that worked for us and made sense for us,” she said. “[Co-creator and star] Rachel [Bloom] and I knew their love triangle was going to be working its way out the door in season two, so that’s why when his contract came up, it was perfect because we then knew he would be amenable to that. When the show got picked up [for season two], we immediately sat down with him and said, ‘Okay, how will this work.’ Rachel and I knew where we were going story-wise so we pitched that to him, and we figured out together the timing.”
Bloom explained why it made sense creatively to end Greg’s arc so early in the show. “The show is about the pursuit of happiness, and Rebecca is a pebble in a pond of everyone else’s pursuit of happiness,” she said. “Greg wouldn’t have gotten sober without Rebecca. He moves across the country partially because he realizes she is no good for him, and they are no good for each other. He goes from being the most unenlightened person in the show arguably to the most enlightened and on the road to true happiness. Their relationship allows him to move on with his life.” McKenna added, “A lot of what we do on the show is get inside out and upside down with rom-com tropes but deconstruct them at the same time. Greg is the nice guy who’s overlooked. There comes a time if you play that too long people start to seem like they’re not smart and they don’t understand their circumstances, and the genre is dictating the circumstances more than the characters are.”
“We know that the fans love him,” McKenna continued. “We love him. But we feel that our obligation is to the story. It’s a very fanciful, silly show and it does have a lot of fantasy in it but we really try to make it grounded. For him, this made the most sense and it allows for the show to evolve.”
Will Greg ever pop back to West Covina for a visit? “This season, it doesn’t look like it,” McKenna said. “It’s definitely something we’re open to. Greg the character doesn’t disappear down the line — he’s still a part of their life. It’s not something that’s part of the immediate plan of her arc, but never say never.”
Additional reporting by Devon Ivie and Gazelle Emami.