Vincent Rodriguez III as Josh, Rachel Bloom as Rebecca.
Since Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was finally renewed for a third season, I hope someone at the CW has called the American Psychological Association about buying some ad time. Over the course of the series, the possibility of Rebecca getting therapy has gone from goofy plotline to ever-dangling object of desire, and she’s far from the only character in need of a mental-health tune-up. Any show that chooses to advocate a series of therapy sessions over its lead character receiving a whirlwind proposal from the supposed man of her dreams — and actually make you root for the therapy sessions — should grab the attention and admiration of people in the profession. So, please, tell your therapist about this show.
How did we get to Josh’s breathtaking proposal? The answer: We didn’t, really. Everyone stays pretty much exactly the same in “Will Scarsdale Like Josh’s Shayna Punim?” which is what makes CXG so wonderful. That’s how life works. When Rebecca reenters her childhood Scarsdale whirl, she thinks things will be different because Josh can protect and comfort her. She’s only half right, though, because Josh actually wants to protect and comfort everyone. He’s a born people-pleaser, and he’s pretty good at it. Watching him protect and comfort Rebecca’s enemies, whether it’s Naomi or Audra Levine’s small-dick-rotten-lay husband, doesn’t feel so great. Put simply, Rebecca wants the impossible. She wants Josh to be himself, the unflappably happy person who comforts her, and she also wants him to be Greg, the man who’ll sit in the corner with her and talk trash about everyone else.
Meanwhile, Josh wants everyone’s approval, and that’s hard to get while he’s bouncing from woman to woman, especially after telling everyone how happy he is on every form of social media that can be adapted to that purpose (including Waze, OpenTable, and Moviefone). Rebecca may be hiding out in her sunny Soul Train “We’ll Never Have Problems Again” universe, convinced that Josh will protect her from the problems she knows she has, but Josh is even worse off. He’s hiding to prevent the kind of relationship failure that would indicate he even has problems in the first place. Valencia was right to warn Rebecca: She may be a mess, but unlike Josh, at least she knows it.
The long claws of the past can also be felt over at Whitefeather (technically now Plimpton), where Darryl and Nathaniel have a daddy-issues face-off for the ages. The show has definitely sanded down some of Nathaniel’s sharp edges in short order, making him even something approaching personable with Rebecca, and expanding on last week’s stray character detail to make it clear that he’s the classic overachieving type, seeking approval from a withholding parent. (He and Rebecca certainly have that in common.) Unfortunately, Nathaniel’s desperation to get the big account from his dad means freezing out Darryl, who then becomes the petulant “son” who lashes out when he can’t get approval either. It’s a chilling little number, watching Nathaniel re-create his dad’s cycle of abuse on Darryl, then collapse into a candy-fueled freak-out just like Darryl does when his father withholds praise. (Tell your therapist about this show!) But what I like best is that no one really learns a lesson, which is, again, often how life actually works. Darryl realizes he’s reliving bad experiences with his dad, and promptly reburies them. Nathaniel (sort of) apologizes to Darryl and finally gives him work, but continues to forge on as usual in search of his dad’s approval. At least they have those bad choices in common, which I guess is how friendships start.
Finally, as a goy, I’m curious to know what Jewish folks thought of this episode. It felt a little overdone on the lox-and-challah clichés, though Tovah Feldshuh continues to be hysterical as Naomi. I’m particularly curious about the themes of cultural guilt and shame, since those don’t tend to crop up in the rest of Rebecca’s life — not to mention the fact that they seem to lie largely in her perception, since Rabbi Shari actually appears to be pretty down-to-earth and accepting. (How good is it to see Patti LuPone on TV, by the way?) For those of you who are Jewish — or culturally Jewish, like Rebecca — is this focus on guilt merited, or is it just Rebecca’s projection? It’s still unclear to me in which camp CXG falls, and I’m wondering what parts felt true or interesting to you.
- Paula has gotten short shrift of late. We haven’t really gotten a check-in with her since Rebecca’s whole Mr. Mom stint, and there’s been basically no reference to Scott or whether Brendan came back. Also, I miss Sunil and this season has had way too little Hector. On the upside, we do get some Father Brah time — with the great reveal that his “birdwatching” is actually a hunt for missing weed.
- I require an immediate webisode of “M-Dogg” and “D-Money” having their Shirley Temple and karaoke night. If they actually do get Zosia Mamet and Esther Povitsky in the same scene at some point, I might die of happiness.
- I also require a GIF of Tovah Feldshuh doing “period sex, period sex.” At this point, it had better be a ten-minute epic in the season finale.
- Though she may have used the scientific method of “starting with a hypothesis and then backing it up with a Vox article,” Heather is actually correct: Couples that post a lot on social media may tend to be more insecure about their relationships.
- My favorite line in the Soul Train song: “Our car will run on love / Elon Musk is developing that kind of car / The first test failed ’cause it wasn’t true love!” Also, there’s a nice callback to last season’s theme song: “Now, for once, the situation’s a lot less nuanced than that!”
- The line I will remember most from this episode is Darryl holding up the box of pepitas and saying, “Why do we have … pepi-tahs? Qué es pepi-tahs?”