I’m grateful to the CW for renewing Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in the face of low ratings, but let’s be honest: Loving this show can be a lonesome experience. It’s one of those would-be hits that just hasn’t “hit” yet, and it probably won’t be met with the passion it deserves until after its time has passed. On the bright side, this episode offers the key to why I think CXG ultimately will find a wider audience: the universality of its songs.
Like a demented form of Hallmark, I’ve found myself sending Crazy Ex-Girlfriend songs for all kinds of occasions over the past few months, and I’m not alone: “Gettin’ Bi” appeared on a friend’s Facebook wall when he came out; “I Gave You a UTI” spreads like a co-virus in the wake of its namesake. The genius of CXG is that its songs provide a zippy YouTube shorthand to accent the rich emotional complexity of its stories. It’s a jukebox musical about human frailty.
In general, I’ve found this season’s crop of tunes a little more plot-centric, often designed to fill storytelling niches rather than acknowledge universal truths. But when the songwriting works like it does in this episode, it really works. Songs like “Let’s Have Intercourse” and “You’re My Best Friend (But I Know I’m Not Yours)” have such relevance that I can’t imagine them not taking on lives of their own. Five years from now, will anyone in Southern California be able to get through Santa Ana without singing about “wiiiiiiinds”?
Speaking of those doo-wop winds, I was wary at first about using them as a device to excuse the characters’ bad behavior. A lot of Southern Californians, like Karen, do believe that the winds make people go crazy, but Rebecca is still responsible for being faithful to Josh, and she doesn’t have the best track record in terms of sticking with one guy. Nevertheless, after Rebecca impulsively kisses Nathaniel, the wind makes an important point: “I just reveal your deepest wishes and fears / So it’s you, Rebecca, it’s not me, who is super-weird.” That’s followed by six words designed to cut right to the heart of things for longtime viewers: “You ruined everything, you stupid bitch.” Even the wind knows Rebecca is in denial about things working out with Josh … but she’s already too busy stealing a perfect fairy-tale wedding to see it herself.
Unlike Rebecca, Paula has always been able to face her fears, and her dual plotlines in this episode provide a nice counterweight to Rebecca going off the rails. For an “I’ll do it myself” type of person like Paula, the winds of change involve acknowledging that she does need other people, in spite of the fact that they can, and will, screw up badly. Scott failed her in being faithful and Darryl failed to keep boundaries with her, but there are no two people in the world more concerned for her welfare — because, let’s face it, Rebecca will always be a little too self-absorbed to pull that off.
The question now is whether Rebecca will finally get real with herself, and how much damage she’ll cause if she doesn’t. Her Nathaniel obsession isn’t likely to go away, and it’s eminently clear that he is only in it for the thrill of pursuit. He treats his clients as “needy whores” once they sign on the dotted line, so it’s doubtful he wants anything more from Rebecca than to see what her nipples look like — even if “they’re probably just regular nipples.”
At the same time, Josh and Rebecca appear to be growing apart. Their sex life is flatlining, and Josh is developing more of a religious side, which is likely to present conflict with Rebecca’s atheism. Our heroine still seems to desperately want a love triangle, even though neither angle is really working for her. Chaos seems inevitable.
- Prediction: Nathaniel’s line that “I think when people say that they’re Ravenclaw, they really think they’re Gryffindor, but they don’t want to sound too braggy” will eventually become one of this show’s most famous quips.
- Lecture-y Feminist Rebecca is my favorite Rebecca: “Paula, periods are Code Blue, because that’s the color of the liquid they use in tampon commercials. Because men hate that women bleed.”
- I love how the show’s score reintegrates songs at key moments. Did you catch “We Should Definitely Not Have Sex Right Now” when Rebecca and Nathaniel were flirting over the coffee maker, or “I Have Friends” when Darryl tried to win back Paula?
- My favorite lyric of the episode comes from the Santa Ana song: “I bring whimsy and an increased risk of forest fires / When I blow there’s magic in the air and a higher risk of suicide.”
- I don’t know if this reference was intentional or not, but the Catalina Wine Mixer in Step Brothers wasn’t filmed at Rebecca and Josh’s wedding site in Malibu, but at the Trump National Golf Course in Palos Verdes. Womp womp.
- Seriously, how good is Stephnie Weir as Karen? She even nailed singing the “Math of Love Triangles” callback in the closer. (Also, responding to the desire to marry a snake with “that prop isn’t even on the ballot yet!” is one of the most Californian jokes ever.)