Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 3, Episode 6
“Josh Is Irrelevent”
Posted by Sage
Sitting down to write this recap of the two most recent Crazy Ex-Girlfriend episodes, I’m not really sure how this is going to go or what it’s going to look like. For various reasons, I felt incapable of writing about “I Never Want To See Josh Again” on its own. All I’ll say is that I was able to watch it with friends (as Rachel instructed) and no one was unaffected. This was the low point that Rebecca was always headed for, aided by the person closest to her whom she trusts the least. I use the word “gamechanger” a lot in reference to this show, but that episode, combined with the next, retroactively give us insight into Rebecca that we’ve never had before and prepare our heroine for the next phase of her life. What even with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend be if Rebecca stops looking to music videos to teach her how the world works?
For as dark as it permits itself to be, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has never been cynical. And “Josh Is Irrelevant” quickly cleans up some of the messes that Rebecca left when Paula shipped her off to Scarsdale. Her friends immediately went looking for her after she disappeared in the episode before it, even though she’d just cruelly unloaded on all of them. So of course, her GurlGroup4Evah plus third-date Hector all hang out in the hospital waiting room every day until Rebecca is released, Paula still in her bathing suit from the Plimpton Plimpton & Plimpton hotel resort meeting. They can all be petty when they feel like it, but none of them care so little for Rebecca that they’d let her push them away. Also, keep in mind that, while the audience is very aware of the seriousness of her illness, her friends have just found out. They’re giving her a healthy amount of leeway, as they should.
It’s a lot to see Rebecca in that bed recovering, telling Paula that she didn’t even really want to die; she just wanted everything to stop. The hopelessness took over momentarily, but, back in West Covina, Rebecca is surrounded by smothering reminders that even people she tried to hurt still want her around. And while her new diagnosis is the center of the episode, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend also empathizes with the people around Rebecca, each responding to her “suicidal event” in their own way. Paula is in full-blown mama bear mode, growling at hospital staff and holding Rebecca’s hand through unofficial therapy appointments. Valencia is distracting herself by turning an intimate situation into a social media campaign. Heather is being the voice of reason, until Rebecca takes too long in the bathroom and she has to get out her murder house ax. We don’t talk about these things, as a people, so there’s a lot of fear and confusion and high, high stress levels happening in the wake of Rebecca’s attempt. There’s also a stirring, inspirational pop-piano ballad that only SOUNDS like it’s about poop. And that’s beautiful in and of itself, because we gotta stop quarantining mental health conversations into serious, appropriate spaces. Most people are not serious OR appropriate.
And Josh? Well, Josh is irrelevant. The next episode is the first one that doesn’t have Josh’s name in the title, because he’s no longer Rebecca’s main focus. (Is it too much to hope that HER name takes its place?) With White Josh doing the whole yurt thing with Darryl, it’s up to Hector to explain to their sweet, dumb friend that he had no more to do with Rebecca’s suicide attempt than any of the rest of them. People like Rebecca, who’ve been struggling to deal with reality all their lives, don’t do what she did because of one event or one person. And it’s not easy for Josh to accept it. I think he’s gotten used to being the center of Rebecca’s world, even though he acts like he hates it. Worse than feeling responsible is feeling entirely separate to this thing that’s rocked the rest of his circle. He can’t and shouldn’t be there; the best thing he can do for Rebecca is keep his distance. He doesn’t get it; even by the end of the episode. He’s still trying to horn himself back into the group; it’s only Darryl’s well-meant promise to kill him that finally sends him (and his puppy – A PUPPY, HONESTLY) away. Josh misses Rebecca’s response. He has no idea how mental illness functions. This is going to be a thing.
Meanwhile, another man in Rebecca’s life is learning about exactly that. We got some meaty and meaningful Nathaniel backstory in this episode, and it was good. In investigating his own uneasy response to the Rebecca news, Nathaniel ran smack into a repressed memory. Not only did his WASPy mom make “a mistake with [her] sleeping pills” when he was kid, he was also the one who found her, unresponsive. That’s hugely traumatizing to anyone, let alone a child who’s been spoon-fed a diet of shoving things deep inside until they kill you. Of course the Plimptons never spoke about this incident ever again, concocting a sailing cover story to wallpaper over that recollection. But Nathaniel’s new life and the new people around him have helped him to realize when he’s pulling back and what actually isn’t normal behavior for a feeling human. He doesn’t like that he’s distancing himself from Rebecca — that he’s not able to “reach out to her” because of this emotional block. I’m so proud of him for not taking no for an answer (“You’re getting peppery, and I don’t use that word lightly.”), and for offering to share that burden with his mom. Rebecca sings about her own mother’s roadblocking in “A Diagnosis,” and we’ve seen Naomi’s way of “dealing with” Rebecca’s illness. So though they were raised with different cultural, regional, and religious norms, both she and Nathaniel them were failed by the way their families discouraged dialogue. I’m sure her hot-ass new doctor wouldn’t want Rebecca to jump into a romantic relationship with anyone right now, but that last scene between the two of them (and Ruth Gator Ginsburg) leaves the door open for them to finally be able to get what they need through each other. (Also, note that Nathaniel thought it might be too much for him to confront Rebecca with his presence, so tried to leave an unobtrusive show of support. He’s growing so much, and that growth is revealing that his ACTUAL instincts are often right.) Anyway, I can’t imagine that either of them ever dreamed they’d have this much in common, but it’s possible that we might see Rebecca in a not-destructive relationship before this whole thing ends.
Though, I doubt that Nathaniel’s mother went searching for information about her addiction and depression the way Rebecca dived head-first into her diagnosis. She sings about longing for identification; getting a name for what she has puts her into a group. And Rebecca has always felt so alone in her head. But borderline personality disorder is a little too exotic and misunderstood to help her out there. She’s so desperate to finally be “fixed” that Rebecca ignores her doctor’s orders and starts Googling on her own, and it’s like reading the full list of side effects before you find out how the medicine can help you. The logline for BPD terrifies her. Because it’s even more misunderstood than anxiety and depression, the stigma feels overwhelming. The worst of it, Rebecca tells Paula, is that it’s what she IS, not what she HAS. You hope and expect that a diagnosis will lead to a cure, but no one is promising Rebecca that she’ll take a pill and magically be comfortable in the world and content in her own skin. She’ll have to work on it, probably for the rest of her life, and that hasn’t been her strong suit before. This is a lifelong commitment that she’s been running from. But the realization that Josh has NOTHING to do with her health is a huge step, and so thrilling to watch Rebecca take.
Unfortunately, her freak out leads to a minor detour, wherein Paula enables Rebecca to seek out a “second opinion.” Now, she’s never listened to Dr. Akopian before, but all of a sudden, her word is better than gold. Rebecca wants an easier answer, from anyone who might be able to give it to her. But she can’t ignore that the BPD checklist basically reads like her dating profile. And if she is serious about getting better, she has to face that diagnosis head on.
Like I said before, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend does an amazing job of portraying both the personal war that is mental illness and the it-takes-a-village aspect of it as well. We’ve known Rebecca for long enough to respect her strength, resiliency, and most of all, her hunger to have this life that she knows deep down that she deserves. She is choosing treatment for herself and has earned that credit. But her friendships, as flawed as they are, have also been transformative for her. Would she ever have gotten the help she needed in New York? Would anyone have ever been able to pay an adequate amount of attention to her? With all due respect to the West Covina community, they had nothing but time on their hands when Rebecca got there. Rebecca ingratiated herself to the point where her former boss abandons his West Coast hippie couples retreat to rush to her side (“I knew I was burning, but I had to come see my girl! Who needs skin?”), and where Valencia has to throw all her energy into getting a hashtag off the ground to avoid dwelling on the thought that she came so close to losing her friend.
I teared up at several points during this episode, but was most moved by the shot of her girlfriends sleeping on the floor outside of Rebecca’s bedroom, ready to spring into action. Rebecca has to do a little teaching of her own, and it’s solid advice for anyone who feels out of their depth in dealing with a loved one’s mental health. There’s no correct response. Your friends won’t expect you to know exactly how to act or what you need — that’s why it’s okay to ask. You cannot protect anyone all the time, nor is that your responsibility. And Valencia is a perfect example of this one: there’s no reason to suppress your own emotions because you worry that this isn’t the time or place for them. Rebecca doesn’t want anyone to walk on eggshells around her. And as much as it pains her to know that she put her friends through one of the most terrifying moments of their lives, talking about it alone isn’t going to trigger her.
Wellness is an everybody thing. The group has to come at it holistically. Valencia isn’t selfish for having a reaction, and it was such a lovely thing for Rebecca to comfort HER. I hope we’re progressing to a point where these women (and all of these people) are better equipped to take care of each other.
The Situation’s A Lot More Nuanced Than That:
- “Need me to wipe anything?”
“Uh, no, it was weird last time when you did that.”
“Yeah, I shouldn’t have looked you right in the eyes, copy that.”
- I hope Dr. Daaayyyyum is here to stay.
- Hector is really stepping up. His mom taught him well.
- Speaking of Hector’s mom, I wonder if they’ve addressed his new relationship on their podcast.
- Donna Lynne Champlin for president:
— Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (@CW_CrazyXGF) November 18, 2017
- Valencia’s secret grossness is becoming a favorite running gag.
- Prayer circle that yurt weekend worked on Darryl and WhiJo.
What’d you think of “Josh Is Irrelevant”? Don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments!
Featured image source: The CW