Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 2, Episode 1
“Where is Josh’s Friend?”
Posted by Sage
I consumed the first season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in one of the quickest and most enjoyable binge watches in my experience. And it didn’t take long for me to realize that a) Rachel Bloom will do anything in the name of comedy. Really, anything. Try her. And b) this is a show that begs for regular Head Over Feels coverage. Between Crazy Ex and Kim’s entree into Jane the Virgin recapping, we’re honored to give the first ladies of CW comedy more space on our site.
When last we saw our West Covina friends, the love triangle between Rebecca, Josh, and Greg had come to a messy climax at Josh’s sister Jayma’s big, family wedding. Even though he and Rebecca were ostensibly in a relationship, all of Greg’s insecurities got-in-for-ma-tion when he noticed that Josh was starting to get all moony around her too. Rebecca told Greg once that his “whole settle for me thing” wasn’t working for her, because no one wants to be romanced by a defense mechanism. The wedding was Greg’s opportunity to stand in front of Rebecca and be like, “Actually, I am the shit, and you and me are a real thing.” Instead, he flamed out on vodka and pretending not to care, stopping just short of shoving Rebecca into Josh’s arms.
So, Josh and Rebecca drive off to have car sex. Her, mad at the guy she’s sleeping with for treating that like it’s nothing, and him, thrown into commitment panic by the marriage of a family member and Valencia’s ultimatum. Super healthy. Great work, guys. Can’t imagine why they’re having problems already.
Which brings us to the opening of this premiere, 15 minutes after a post-coital Rebecca admits what she’d been denying all year: that she moved to West Covina for Josh. A skilled debater, Rebecca expertly swerves the conversation. First, she pins Josh’s appearance to the “low moment” she was experiencing at the time and declares that she would have latched on to any old friend she saw. Then, she puts her own word vomit into Josh’s mouth, leaving him with that adorable, confused puppy expression on his face. A compromise: “I’ll let you off the hook just because you did me so good back there.”
As it is wont to do, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ping-ponged in this episode between “wow this is hilarious, aren’t we all having fun?” and “TOO REAL, MAKE IT STOP.” Rebecca’s delusions are working over time as she and Josh slip into the most perfunctory honeymoon period ever. She crows to Paula about how in love she and Josh are, meanwhile her “soulmate” doesn’t even feel ready to share a bed with her after sex. I don’t know what’s more demoralizing to me as a viewer: Josh’s couch-bed or Rebecca’s relentless cheerfulness about it. We’d all like to think that we’d never be so desperate to accept an arrangement like this or we’d at least have enough shame not to brag about it. But with her first music video of Season 2, Rebecca reminds us that we’ve all been there – reaching for something that isn’t there and re-framing every interaction to fit our constructed reality. TOO REAL, MAKE IT STOP.
We knew the Lemonade homage was coming. And oh, the sweet irony of borrowing from an earth-shaking piece of empowering, female-forward art to call women out for enabling the dudes – even the nice ones – who take advantage of them. Then again, Lemonade also informed the world that even BEYONCE gets cheated on. Even Queen Bey is capable of ignoring the signs in favor of self-preservation. The cactus dress was funny, but these songs have many layers.
Rebecca can turn any neutral into a positive, but she’s not giving equal weight to Josh’s hesitancy kernels. (“I don’t want to take up any space.” Ouch.) The truth is that Josh isn’t looking for or prepared to be in another relationship at this moment. Rebecca is ten steps ahead of him, since she cast him as her fantasy boyfriend the moment they ran into each other in New York. He should be a decent guy and tell her this. SHE should be an adult woman and realize she’s trying to shove an unromantic reality into a fairytale-sized hole. More than her long-term crush on Josh, what’s preventing Rebecca from seeing things as they are is that fear of failure she can thank her overbearing mother for. If Rebecca moved to West Covina for Josh (which she did) and he’s not the magical life-fix she imagined (he’s not), then the past year has been meaningless. It hasn’t – of course it hasn’t – but logic isn’t Rebecca’s strong suit when she’s surveying her own choices. Though, as a not-little girl myself, I get the appeal of a guy who can literally toss you around your bedroom. (“Weee!”)
So what’s Josh’s excuse? He gave Valencia his apartment, and Hector’s preference for crust-free sandwiches has effectively ruined any chance of him bunking with his parents. Let me say this first, because it’s true: I like Josh. He is genuinely soft-hearted. He is fine but simple. (“She says so many things. She has me so confused.”) But when he told his coworker Alex that he was “crashing on a friend’s couch,” I gasped like a telenovela background player. How. Dare. You. Sir. That couch belongs to a person, not a Mississippi Love Slide. A person who is so dependent on Josh’s positive feelings towards her that her friends have staged multiple interventions. What Josh is doing to Rebecca here isn’t knowingly cruel, but it’s cruel nonetheless.
The circumstances of this jank-ass love affair are enough to disillusion Paula, Rebecca’s reliable enabler. “Honey, he’s just there for the sex,” she says. “He’s exploiting you.” (And the crash pad, but the sex is a nice bonus.) Paula was weened off of Josh-centric shenanigans during the era of Grebecca and she’s digging her heels in as Rebecca tries like hell to pull her back into meddler hell. Also, about that Greg guy? Rebecca was in love with him or getting close to it, according to her best friend in the whole world. (PAULA KNOWS THINGS.) And it’s another sign of disaster to come that Rebecca accepted Greg’s disappearing act so easily. Botched plastic surgery? It’s the oldest California lie in the book.
But Rebecca isn’t giving up on this Josh thing until she reaches peak humiliation. (Her tolerance is high, so she’s got a long way to go yet.) Tactics include enticing Josh to leave things at her place by presenting a musical, gadget-filled storage space like she’s the host of Pimp My Drawer. (“Socks, underwear, and more!”) If only things could be as easy for Rebecca and Josh as they are for Darryl and White Josh. But no one will ever have a relationship as mutually respectful, affectionate, and magical as Darryl and White Josh, because they are the purest of the pure and, to them, no harm must come. If they ever break up, I will surely die.
Rebecca finds the scapegoat she’s looking for in the Ghost of Gregs Past. She latches on to Josh’s stress dream about betraying his friend and can again see her deliverance in the distance. If it’s Falcon Greg keeping Josh rolling out of her bed as soon as he finishes, then the threat must be neutralized. Note that even though it’s Josh who’s feeling guilty, he doesn’t lift a FINGER to try to make things right with Greg. I’m usually not this down on him, but the boy has had better episodes. Also, that Emory-reppin’ bird of prey was a Twin Peaks reference, yes?
Paula has never been Greg’s biggest fan (that would be me, hi), but I think it’s a teeny bit of personal worry that puts her over the edge in agreeing to help Rebecca to track him down. First, Rebecca tries the usual haunts and asks around the antisocial boy’s social circles. But she meets roadblocks everywhere. Greg’s friends may be weird, but they’ve got his back. We find out later that no one knows yet where he’s been or why he’s been hiding out. But his buddies respect that it’s his secret to keep or tell. Greg’s dad adds a little personal touch touch to the cold shoulder (“Wow, that was BARELY under your breath.”); because he probably knows more of the story than anyone. Consider Pop’s side of things: Rebecca came looking for her missing ex – his KID – after a MONTH of indifference. Worse, she shows up all chipper and sexed up by Josh just to wring a blessing out of Greg. (Not that Dad knows that, but still.) “You ruin people’s lives and then pass it off as quirky,” Greg’s dad accuses. That calls for a garlic hummus apology, at least.
So Paula succumbs to Rebecca’s Bambi eyes and uses her terrifying tracking skills to get a location on Greg. (“You’re cervix-deep in this now.”) And where else would Greg Serrano be but in the most depressing room in the whole depressing town? The girls find him at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, and suddenly, his entire character makes sense. Greg is an addict, and he hit rock bottom the night of the wedding. I feel like someone just washed the windows, because I can see it all so clearly now. This is why Greg self-sabotaged on the regular. Because he instinctively knew that he had to get to the lowest point – a point where he’d be forced to face himself. (Kim: “If I Wanted To” makes SO MUCH SENSE.)
What’s post-AA Greg even going to look like? I’m sure he’ll stay his adorably sardonic self, but, according to him, the anger is gone. It took 30 days of meetings, but he’s finally realized that his problems are bigger than Emory, bigger than living with his dad, bigger than tending bar, and bigger than Rebecca not being over Josh. I expected to find Greg licking his wounds this season, but I didn’t expect he’d actually be processing. Court-ordered processing, but processing nonetheless. It’s probably even healthy that he ghosted the craziness to get himself together. And I have faith that his dad won’t let him duck real life forever. Anyway, how ’bout that glitter metaphor, huh?
We hear it twice in the episode. It’s how Greg feels about drinking. And it’s how Paula feels about running into Rebecca’s problems, gun blazing and wasted IQ firing on all cylinders. These things are unhealthy habits. They’re a high with a crash. So it’s not super encouraging that the glitter explosion is the same feeling that Rebecca says she experienced when she saw Josh in New York. What she thought was love was actually her subconscious laying allllll of her insecurities and regrets at the feet of this poor guy. Josh represented the way out of the life that she didn’t want anymore and a chance at succeeding at a relationship that she once failed. And though I PERSONALLY think and hope Greg is endgame for her, I don’t think the glitter curse means that Josh CAN’T be. But Rebecca has to stop putting it on Josh’s love to make everything okay.
Not a chance of that after Josh comes back home rather than chance a Hector-like relationship with his mom. Rebecca tells Josh that she has some strange feeling that they ought to leave Greg be for now, and they try – VERY weakly – to not fall back into bed together, during the episode’s second number, the Sade-esque, “We Should Definitely Not Have Sex Right Now.” They shouldn’t. They do. And Rebecca does a mental Charleston to the “Maple Leaf Rag” when a sleepy Josh pulls her to him afterwards. Sex brain is the worst.
At least Paula is joining Greg on the plane of self-awareness. She likes the thrill of the chase, in spite of herself. But I don’t think she liked what she saw when she and Rebecca got to their destination. Seeing Greg like that – it was a intrusion. What bothers Paula even more, I think, is that it was BENEATH her. To keep herself on the right track, Paula puts together a friendship contract for Rebecca to sign that promises unlimited listening and support but no more tracking cell phone signals. Rebecca and Paula constantly have to reassess and realign their friendship so that it doesn’t grow into the unconquerable monster it could be (and oh, it COULD be), but the core of it is always safe. With all her shenanigan-free time, Paula can study to be another kickass West Covina lawyer. And you know what? That’s a little bit Rebecca’s doing. To a lot of people in that town, Rebecca is a bizarre mess of neuroses and musical theater references. But to Paula, she’s the girl who scratched everything and started over, on a whim. To Paula, she’s an inspiration.
The Situation’s a Lot More Nuanced Than That:
- Amazon Prime finally gets its due for being America’s preferred express sex accessory shipment tool.
- “Hi, Mom!” “No. Definitely not that.”
- “I record all conversations with adults.” “Oh, that’s very smart.”
- RIP Beans’ house.
- The sad music came in right on “I’m an alcoholic,” please help.
- “I suddenly know your truth and you know mine. Embrace me, brother.”
How did you feel about the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend premiere, guys? Have you ever survived off of love kernels? Share your sob stories in the comments.