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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Recap: On the Nose

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I Have to Get Out
Season 4 Episode 13
Editor’s Rating *****

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I Have to Get Out
Season 4 Episode 13
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Scott Everett White/The CW

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has had a few strong outings here and there in its final season, but with this episode marking the two-thirds point, I have to confess that I’m just not enjoying the show as much as I used to, especially the non-musical parts. “I Have to Get Out” really earns its title, full of cookie-cutter plotlines, draggy takes, and unfunny jokes. Aside from one goofily entertaining song, the show feels like it’s running on fumes.

Picking right up from last week, the episode opens on Rebecca’s first post-meds visit to Dr. Akopian. Other than some tiredness, she’s doing okay, but she’s embarrassed that she’s had to resort to the pills. To reassure her, Dr. Akopian whirls Rebecca into a La La Land parody number proclaiming that “Antidepressants Are So Not a Big Deal,” complete with a tap-dancing crew of chirpy fluoxetine and paroxetine users from all walks of life.

Frankly, I couldn’t stand this song, and it’s not because I’m anti-antidepressants. I’ve taken them myself in the past, and I know that for many people, they can be a literal lifesaver. It’s because it so perfectly sums up the show’s transformation from complexity to smugness. It’s honestly a good thing that the CW’s lawyers wouldn’t let the song use actual antidepressant brand names, or it’d just be an ad.

The real, lived experience of taking antidepressants is very messy and complex. Side effects, while preferable to crippling depression, are still common and debilitating. More often than not, they don’t just “get better in a couple of months,” forcing painful choices over having to play it safe or roll the dice on potentially worse new meds. A real-life Rebecca might not only be falling asleep on the job, but also struggling to keep up with insane insurance premiums as a small business owner, or getting hit with a $300 bill for pills because her insurer will only cover a generic.

I’m not saying that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend should tackle all of these topics with kitchen-sink realism. But it also shouldn’t feel like it’s leaving interesting, authentic angles entirely on the table, while offering up what amounts to a series of gently humorous PSAs.

This mushy, safe quality pervades the entire episode, in which Rebecca decides to pursue her “real dream” in life with the same blinkered ardor she once pursued men. The message really hits home after she falls asleep on a hospital gurney and wakes up in the morgue. With the help of a reprise of “The End of the Movie,” she stumbles onto her latest revelation to occur over a period of time: She should audition for a community-theater production. If this is supposed to be a big reveal, it doesn’t feel like one; the show has hinted for years that Rebecca should embrace theater, than yanked away her stage in one way or another.

As Rebecca takes the first steps toward her “big dream,” the rest of her pals are caught up in various forms of chaos around the hospital. Paula, having learned seemingly nothing from the whole massive-heart-attack-from-overwork thing, is desperately trying to break out before she’s been cleared for release, so she can still take the bar exam. Over in the waiting room, Darryl meets an appealing woman who shares his love of the Spread (bean dip, specifically), but their budding romance is quickly driven apart by the fact that the woman’s daughter and Darryl’s are schoolyard enemies.

The episode’s most tired plot, though, features Greg, Nathaniel, and Josh, who are all forced into quarantine together after being coughed on by a rambunctious young patient with “squirrel flu.” Arguing and recriminations inevitably follow — sort of like The Americans’ infamous “Glanders” episode, if it had absolutely nothing interesting going on and zero stakes.

The only redeeming aspect is that Greg and Josh end up getting into a fistfight, leading to a delightfully silly “Kung Fu Fighting” parody about how real-life fighting is way more awkward and uncomfortable than movie fighting. It runs a bit too long to keep making the same point over and over again, but at least the cuts to various genre fights between the two inject some life into the proceedings.

The episode concludes with a time-honored tradition: Rebecca breaking up with a guy she still likes because she really just needs some time for herself right now. This time it’s Greg, but it might as well be Josh or Nathaniel, we’ve already been to this well so many times. It doesn’t get more convincing the more Rebecca does it, and watching her go through the cycle of romance/breakdown/self-realization/breakup again and again has gotten stale.

This episode is the show’s last before a monthlong hiatus, which I hope will give the creative team some energy to get the final episodes back on track. It needs to take a cue from Rebecca and try pushing its boundaries a little, before it’s too late.

Other notes:

• That’s Rachel Bloom’s real-life husband Dan Gregor as the twin doctors, one of whom is hacky and self-important and the other one of whom is utterly humorless. I wonder if they’re big Cronenberg fans?

• Nice to see Heather and Valencia pop up again after a few episodes off. Heather has one of the only good lines in the episode: She’s frequently in the ER because “my husband the surfer can’t tell the difference between a slippery rock and a stingray, and he loves stepping on both.”

• The only other funny thing in this episode was Cough Boy, who presented a rare and welcome burst of genuine weirdness. Long may he force people into quarantine-based meet-cutes.

• Josh offhandedly mentions that Jayma, his sister who got married in the season one finale, recently had a baby. I’m glad at least one romance on this show is working out!

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Recap: On the Nose