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'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' Has Taken a Seriously Uncomfortable Turn

By Dustin Rowles | TV | February 24, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | February 24, 2017 |

I suspect this piece has already been written two dozen times, but having just caught up on season two of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I think a 25th time is in order: The second season finale of the series was bizarre. It was a disaster for the way in which the final few episodes shoehorned two extra story threads into Josh and Rebecca’s wedding — Rebecca’s relationship with her father, and her comically bizarre tryst with an ex-professor — and a disaster — but an interesting one — for taking an extra sharp turn into a really dark place.

The second season finale put extra emphasis on the “crazy” in the title Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. For the better part of two seasons, we had a character who was unhealthily obsessed with Josh, a boyfriend from summer camp during her teenage years. The fact that Rebecca quit her job at a blue-chip law firm and moved across the country to live in a California strip-mall town to be with this guy was a little “crazy,” but endearingly so. She was unhappy. She wanted a slower, more relaxed life that was more than about her job, and Josh represented that for her. The lengths she would often go to establish that relationship bordered on stalker behavior (OK, more than bordered), but the show’s upbeat tone often obscured what was lying beneath.

Once she finally landed Josh and even managed to secure an engagement, however, it became apparent that Rebecca’s behavior wasn’t about Josh — it was never about Josh, a notion that Rebecca’s therapist consistently pushed — because Rebecca quickly realized, after she’d exhausted the thrill of the chase, that Josh is kind of dumb, lacks ambition, and is a complete narcissist.

She didn’t want to marry Josh — otherwise she never would have kissed Nathaniel — she wanted to own Josh. She thought Josh would give her the life she so badly craved, that Josh would cure her mental illness. Then Josh rejected her by joining the priesthood, again resurrecting her deep-seated abandonment issues. And then Rebecca nearly leapt to her death — SHE NEARLY COMMITTED SUICIDE ON A CW COMEDY — but ultimately decided, instead, to spare her own life and devote it to ruining Josh.

Rebecca is seriously, seriously mentally unwell and now what was once an unconventional rom-com musical with a season-and-a-half love triangle has morphed into Fatal Attraction: The Musical, and the viewer is put in a precarious position of rooting for Glenn Close. Rebecca has become the Walter White of her own show: A villain its hard to dislike, only now her flaws apparently extend to destroying another character’s life because he rejected her, even though she didn’t really even want him in the first place. If Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is picked up for a third season, that’s the direction it’s expect to take.

From TVLine:

After getting jilted in humiliating fashion, Rebecca will indeed be seeking payback next season. [Showrunner Aline Brosh] McKenna says that Rebecca adopts a new persona each season, and “in a time of crisis here, a new persona leaps into her mind, and it’s the scorned woman. We’ll see how consistently she follows through on that, and how her feelings evolve as she recovers from this big rupture.”

She adds that Rebecca’s newfound feelings of hatred for Josh aren’t that big of a switch: “Psychologically speaking, hating someone is the same as loving them. Because the opposite of love is apathy. It’s not hatred. It’s the flip side of an obsession.”

In other words, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is not about a character trying to find love and happiness. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a show tracking the continuing deterioration of a seriously unwell person. The real hero of this show is not Josh or Rebecca or Greg or even Paula — it’s the therapist, Dr. Noelle Akopian. She’s apparently the only person who can save Rebecca. Or Josh from Rebecca. Or all of Rebecca’s friends, who are being dragged down into Rebecca’s revenge scenarios.

That doesn’t make Crazy Ex-Girlfriend a bad show. It’s a more interesting show than ever, in fact, but also a really uncomfortable one. It’s no longer a quirky musical romcom, but a dark, twisted musical stalker comedy, which is a seriously subversive approach for a CW series, but we should expect nothing less from Rachel Bloom.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.