Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 2, Episode 10
“Will Scarsdale Like Josh’s Shayna Punim?”
Posted by Sage
Rebecca and Josh are that couple you hate. They’re the ones who make out during museum tours, text meaningless endearments all day, and won’t stop asking you if they’ve already told you about “that cute thing” the other did last week. They’re certainly the couple that HEATHER hates. But Rebecca has been clawing her way up this mountain for over a season and a half, so I’m inclined to let her enjoy the view from the top for a little while.
Their first two attempts to be together long forgotten by no one but themselves, Josh and Rebecca are insufferably optimistic about their future. Outwardly. Like on their Facebook, Waze, and Open Table feeds. But this precarious couple can’t escape the academic interpretation of the psych student/Vox reader they share an apartment with. And one way to throw the metaphorical cold water on some PDA-loving roommates is to force them to think about where they really stand. “You know, studies have shown that couples who post a lot on social media are often insecure about their attachment,” Heather explains to unconvincing dismissive scoffs. Josh and Rebecca are putting their happy couple face out into the world so that they’ll have no choice but to live up to it. Anyway: “Love fixes everything!”
The lovebirds sing about their deliberate choice to ignore the differences that’ll probably screw them later in the genre that sounds most like happiness crying on the inside: disco. It’s the first real Josh/Rebecca duet we’ve gotten all season, and though it’s a song about love, it is definitively NOT a love song. (“Do you remember back when we had problems?” “Oh yeah! That was annoying.”) ’70s Heather can’t get through to their matching jumpsuit AU selves either, but she does get to look fabulous in some high-waisted bell bottoms. LET VELLA LOVELL DANCE MORE.
There’s no singing when Rebecca has a contrite coffee with Valencia, just an overdue talk between two friends who once swore not to fall back in the orbit of the same guy. Valencia doesn’t revert to her season 1 bitchiness; she doesn’t cast Rebecca off. But she doesn’t let her off the hook either, grading the current state of their relationship to “eh.” And because girl groups are forever (zigazow!), Valencia even tries to give Rebecca some advice about wanting too much too soon out of this relationship. “Don’t you see that Josh is like, all over the place and lost?” she asks. But Rebecca is willing herself to NOT see how ill-equipped her boyfriend is to be in a serious relationship. She’s blinded by having a date to take back to Scarsdale with her for her cousin’s bar mitzvah. Normally, she’d be dreading a weekend back in her mother’s house, but “love protects you!” Valencia laughs, bitterly.
Once of Josh’s more mature qualities is that he (unlike Rebecca) seeks out advice from people he trusts and actively tries to take it. Father Brah can’t reassure Josh that none of Rebecca’s older relatives will call him an “Oriental,” but he can make Josh admit the truth to himself. Josh is feeling the pressure of Scarsdale and reuniting with the woman who once asked him point-blank about the state of Rebecca’s hymen because his life is pretty empty except for this relationship. Father Brah doesn’t explain Josh’s problem to him; maybe because it’s more priest-like to let him figure it out for himself. Or maybe because he’s too busy scanning the trees for his weed stash.
Of course, Josh and Rebecca fail to talk to each other about their trepidation, so they show up to Rebecca’s family home in New York equally paralyzed by the prospect of the weekend. And when you’re under Naomi Bunch’s roof, you’re better off if you present a united front. Boyfriend or no, the mortification starts right away for Rebecca. Naomi answers the door in her Spanx and bra, criticisms at the ready and halfway through the process of slathering La Mer over her entire body. (“I know it’s for my face, but for once I’m splurging on myself!”) It’s true, you DO have to let it sink in. And can I just say? Mazel tov, Tovah. Keepin’ it right, keepin’ it tight.
Look, if you don’t regress back to your teen years the second you step into the house you grew up in, you are made of steel. Rebecca’s voice is two full octaves higher in Scarsdale. Her palm is permanently stuck to her face. But Josh doesn’t have the same complicated emotional history with Naomi as his girlfriend does. He finds Rebecca’s mom harmless and quirky, like a traveling show that he doesn’t really need to engage with. Rebecca is less than thrilled that Naomi and Josh are getting along so well. It’s a personal affront to her that they’re collaborating on challah French toast and learning about the problematic connotations of certain words. (“I knew it was racist, I just didn’t know why!”) Rebecca’s definition of the weekend “going well” was for her to have someone to commiserate about her family with, not someone who will challenge her unforgiving view of them. Naomi Bunch is a difficult woman, but she passed many of her traits down to her daughter, including her passion for, YOU GUESSED IT:
Look at Josh’s face. Get on board or be left behind, buddy.
As always, Rebecca is completely transparent in her intentions. She arrives at the reception for Skyler’s bar mitzvah (after he reads the part about the whores and lepers) with her arrogance as protection. She got out of this toxic environment and absolutely considers herself better than the people she left behind because of it. But it’s only really toxic to her. Rebecca tries to get Josh to see how pathetic and oppressive her people are, but all he can see is a community having a celebration. Rebecca sees every interaction from the angle of her own animosity, even a polite conversation with her mother’s rabbi. (“She’s not nice. She’s a programmed robot who’s trying to incept God into me all the time.” “Whoa. I didn’t know that, and I know a TON about robots.”)
Even the congregation’s dancing carries a negative connotation for Rebecca. All she can hear are reminders that she shouldn’t be happy, that happiness is contrary to her upbringing, and the none of these people WANT her to be happy. All of this, of course, is projection. Rebecca is always looking to blame her problems on someone else. In this case, the target is the entire Jewish faith, particularly as it’s practiced in upstate New York. And to those who say this show is “too niche,” I ask: what is it about theater goddesses Patti LuPone and Tovah Feldshuh singing a hora about the shortcomings of the Beastie Boys that’s “too niche”?
Golden retriever Josh Chan is always up for a party and for making new friends, even if those friends are dating his girlfriend’s SWORN ENEMY. (“Turns out we both love Dave Matthew Band!”) He’s baffled by Rebecca’s bad mood, and in this case, I forgive him for it. She’s got some much stuff in this place that she hasn’t yet worked out. Josh’s presence alone can’t magically reconcile all her childhood issues with her adult self. She can’t expect a relationship to do that for her – especially a new one. And Rebecca prevented her own good time by coming home without unloading the gigantic chip on her shoulder. “They’re you and if you hate that stuff you hate yourself. And if you hate yourself, it doesn’t matter how great your boyfriend is, you’ll always be unhappy,” Rabbi Shari tells her. Rebecca confesses her rather unrealistic expectations for the man she loves (“He’s not a human being, he’s Josh Chan.”), and the rabbi gives her the kindly reality check she needs: “That’s not love, dear. That’s fantasy.” And one always takes the advice of Diva LuPone. It’s just good sense.
Meanwhile, back at Plimpton, Plimpton & Plimpton plus Whitefeather in a teeny-tiny font, the new boss is also trying to neutralize his many deep-seated issues in imprudent ways. Nathaniel is ruling the roost with an iron and sugar-free fist. He’s usurped all of Darryl’s power, even boxing him out of important cases. D has nothing to do but mope around the office, whine to Paula, regret his decision to sell, and stress eat jelly beans. (Whatever, Paula. The buttered popcorn are my favorite.) It’s the last straw when Nathaniel purges the kitchen of Darryl’s one remaining comfort. (“Que es pepitas?”) This is his Norma Rae moment, and Darryl will be an “emasculated sock puppet” no more.
Nathaniel catches Darryl contaminating his paleo office cabinets and it leads to a rather weak Spartacus moment. (“You can take our candy but you can never take our candy.”) There are no deficiencies allowed. No indulgences. This is what his father wants. But Nathaniel’s entire facade comes crumbling down when his dad calls to tell him that he won’t be handing him the major account Nathaniel has had everyone but Darryl preparing for. Empty, he repeats the platitudes his dad has been feeding him his whole life back into the phone. (“I know. You got to earn it. Nothing gets handed to you. I love that. That’s how we do. ‘Once you stop improving, you start losing.'”) Darryl decides to confront his bully at the worst (or maybe best?) time. Nathaniel has gorged himself on contraband candy and is pounding away on the treadmill trying to make up for his lapse in discipline. It does not end well.
Listen, if ANYONE is qualified to begin counteracting the effects of the toxic masculine values that have so far ruined Nathaniel’s entire life, it’s Darryl “Shirley Temples and karaoke” Whitefeather. (“You know…it’s okay to be upset.”) Nathaniel has pushed Darryl out of the inner circle because he’s the second highest ranking member of the team, but also because he sees in him these qualities that his father has taught him to avoid: compassion, silliness, and the possession of a rather soft heart. To his IMMENSE credit, Darryl drops his beef with this boy immediately because it’s obscenely obvious that he needs a friend. More than that, he needs an authority figure – perhaps one with a very dad-like mustache – to give him the approval that his father insists on withholding. If Nathaniel comes to terms with the fact that he’ll never be able to please his dad, no matter what he does, he can be his own man and the new Whitefeather & Associates may run a little differently from now on.
Maybe Darryl should have given Nathaniel the number of Dr. Akopian. Because this woman needs a win and, let’s face it, even this broken man-child is an easier case than Rebecca Bunch. She ALMOST gets it though. Rabbi Shari loosened the lid and Dr. Akopian is THIS CLOSE to opening the jar. Rebecca now has a concrete example of a problem that was not solved by being on the arm of Joshua Felix Chan. And if there’s one of those, there are probably many. And if HE’S not the magical key, then she’ll have to take another approach. The epiphany is just HANGING there. Poor Dr. Akopian. She can taste that breakthrough. But Josh takes Naomi’s terrible advice as the most inopportune time. He bursts into Rebecca’s session with the Garfinkel ring (What kind of disrespect for the mental health profession…), determined to be a success in at least one part of his life. And we are all Rebecca’s therapist in this moment.
Josh’s proposal has probably left Dr. Akopian a broken woman, but this beautiful disaster is going to be comic gold for the rest of us. It’s so spectacularly premature and selfishly motivated on both their parts. It will horrify all their friends, and I’m guessing blow up in the season finale. And from the promo for this week, it looks as if Rebecca will begin self-sabotaging almost as soon as the ring passes her knuckles, leaning into the sexual tension she has with her new boss. Note that Nathaniel was VERY interested in where she was going on her vacation days. And he’s still getting his kicks from undermining Josh. (“I’ve never heard anyone else use the term ‘man of my dreams’ before you. Sounds like something a super secure person says.”) And yes, I am ACTIVELY rooting for Rebecca to make a bad decision. Because maybe if she falls on her face again, she can gain back some of that ground that she just lost. But I wouldn’t put money on it.
It’s a Lot More Nuanced Than That:
- It’s your friendly Grebecca-for-lyfe shipper asking you to think about Greg in Atlanta reading all those “in a relationship” Facebook updates.
- “Wow, you have the most intense look on your face. I’m excited for your other looks, whenever those get going.”
- Don’t tell me Nathaniel doesn’t have a gooey center. He hired back George!
- It’s GIFS. Not JIFS.
- I’ve been chuckling over “Skittle me this” for almost a week.
- “As he finished, he called me ‘mom.’ Have fun unpacking that.”
- Say what you will about her obsession with Rebecca’s relationship status, but Naomi Bunch knows how to pack a plane snack. (“Joshua. I am your Jewish mother now.”)
- Rachel Bloom should drop that full-length “Period Sex” video on Inauguration Day because we’re gonna need it.
Just three more eps to go! Did you enjoy Josh and Rebecca’s awkward trip back east? Let’s talk about how their engagement makes us all suffer in the comments.