[This is a review of the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend season 2 premiere. There will be SPOILERS.]
With the addition of Supergirl this season, the majority of The CW’s primetime lineup is anchored by DC Comics-based superhero shows. But, the network has found success with other genre fare, such as the telenovela-inspired Jane the Virgin, fantasy-horror series The Vampire Diaries and Supernatural, as well as the musical-styled Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. A deconstructionist view of romantic comedies, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend season 1 earned plenty of critical praise and interest from fans — as well as Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe awards for co-creator and star Rachel Bloom, who plays protagonist Rebecca Bunch.
Season 1 of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend followed Rebecca as she moved across the country to West Covina, California under the dubious reason that she wanted to find happiness — and it just so happened to be where her former camp boyfriend Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III) lived. However, when Rebecca discovered Josh had a girlfriend/fiancée, she struggled with either pursuing Josh with obsessive focus — with help from her new best friend Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin) — or attempting to move on with his friend Greg (Santino Fontana). The season 1 finale of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend featured Josh breaking up with Valencia (Gabrielle Ruiz) and kissing Rebecca, seeming to indicate Rebecca’s dreams were finally coming true.
In the season 2 premiere, ‘Where Is Josh’s Friend’ — written by Bloom, co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna, and executive producer Marc Webb, and directed by Webb — Rebecca is sure Josh is in love with her, but Greg has seemingly disappeared. Meanwhile, Paula is faced with taking a hard look at why she became so involved with Rebecca’s love life. Plus, Rebecca’s boss Darryl (Pete Gardner) and Josh’s friend White Josh (David Hull) try to navigate their new relationship.
For the most part, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend season 2 is much the same as it was in season 1, for better or for worse — though mainly for the better. ‘Where is Josh’s Friend’ picks up where the season 1 finale left off, shortly after Rebecca dropped the relationship bomb to Josh that she moved to West Covina to be with him. He’s understandably rattled, and Rebecca attempts to recover by placing the “crazy” on him, using her standard means of Josh manipulation: Confusing him until he drops the subject.
As a result, when the story jumps ahead three weeks, Rebecca and Josh are still stuck in a friends with benefits limbo where neither are on the same page and both parties are unsure of what they want from the relationship. In terms of maintaining the premise of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend — which, even from the pilot, was established more as a love story between Rebecca and her concept of love rather than her and Josh — this turn of events maintains somewhat of a status quo for the series. Although the season 1 finale seemed to hint at a simple rom-com ending to Rebecca and Josh’s story, real life and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are much more complicated than that.
So, with Rebecca still obsessing over Josh, who still isn’t on the same page as her in their relationship, and her still wanting more than he seems willing to give, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend continues on with much the same story. However, what gives the season 2 premiere a freshness are the other characters in Rebecca’s life. While she’s trapped in her same self-destructive cycle of lying about her love life (both to herself and everyone in her life), those around her are moving forward with their lives — or, at least, attempting to do so.
Paula specifically struggles throughout ‘Where is Josh’s Friend’ to come to terms with the fact that she keeps getting sucked into Rebecca’s schemes, shenanigans, and, most importantly, lies. Although resistant at first to helping Rebecca (illegally) track down Greg, Paula inevitably gives in to her friend’s pleading, getting roped into another scheme that feeds into Rebecca’s obsessive delusions. However, by the end of the episode, Paula recognizes how unhealthy her behavior has been — her own obsessiveness about Rebecca’s love life that has impacted her own relationships — and, with the support of her husband, starts down a path that’s more beneficial to her mental health: Law school.
Beyond Paula, other people in Rebecca’s life who are pushing forward include Darryl and White Josh. Despite not being in the season 2 premiere much, the pair are continuing to develop their relationship — Darryl even gives White Josh a key to his “ap-heart-ment.” In fact, with Rebecca wrapped up in the complexities of her relationship with Josh, Darryl and White Josh offer a typically romantic foil to the main character of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
However, no one has moved on with their life more than Greg, who viewers learn along with Rebecca got arrested for drunk driving the morning after the wedding at which Rebecca left him for Josh. After hitting rock bottom, Greg was ordered to attend meetings for alcoholics, and discovered the root of his anger from season 1 while beginning the process to be a more healthy person. Although Greg is still hiding from certain aspects of his life — mainly, Rebecca — he seems to have bounced back from the low point of season 1 and is working toward a healthy life.
In contrast to the other characters in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, who are working toward bettering themselves and living more healthy lives, Rebecca and Josh are stuck in the same cycle from season 1. As evidenced by Rebecca’s first song of the episode — an homage to Beyoncé’s Lemonade visual album — she’s still projecting her hopes onto Josh and reading into his actions. By the final song of the episode, it’s clear that Josh has fallen down the rabbit hole with Rebecca. Neither Josh nor Rebecca are able to make the mature decisions that will eventually lead to a better life and they instead choose a path of romantic dysfunction.
All in all, ‘Where is Josh’s Friend’ is a fantastic return to form for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. It features a complex narrative of people trying their best to live happy lives, with the colorful backdrop of West Covina, California and fun musical numbers offering insight into the characters’ states of mind. While it will be compelling to see how the slight differences of the season 2 premiere will develop the arcs established in season 1, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has returned as the same show fans and critics fell in love with last year — a healthy, non-obsessive love, of course.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend continues Friday, October 28 with ‘When Will Josh See How Cool I Am?’ at 9pm on The CW.