I Want 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' to Burn Every Side of Its Love Triangle to the Ground
I have to admit something: as much as I love The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (and that’s A LOT), I straight-up, 100% do not understand its love triangle through line. At all. Not even a tiny bit. In fact, it perplexes me so hard, and so consistently, that it now actually angers me. This isn’t really a “spoilery” show, but let’s get out of the way: if you’re spoiler-sensitive, we’re gonna be talking about some plot points up through this week’s episode. You’ve been warned.
First, let’s talk about Rebecca and Josh. Because when this show started out, it seemed overwhelmingly clear that Rebecca and Josh were not soul mates. The neurotic nuances of her moving to West Covina for Josh but definitely NOT FOR JOSH, but also yes, really for Josh, were delicious. We didn’t really know why Rebecca was obsessed with Josh. I mean, sure, there’s the obvious.
But what else? Is there ANYTHING else? This isn’t necessarily about intelligence or money or any other specific qualifier. Because people can come from different backgrounds and be totally compatible. But these two haven’t ever shown us that they ARE compatible. Maybe if the show had ever actually addressed just how different Josh and Rebecca are, it wouldn’t be so weird that they seem to have exactly nothing in common. Yes, his life clearly appealed to her, with its California suburban chillaxness, and if Josh is the symbolic personification of that life, then that I get. And that’s why I bought for so long that, as Rebecca tells us every episode:
Because it’s not about Josh (and yet also really simultaneously IS). She’s not in love; she’s just projecting all of her hopes and fears for her life onto this guy she used to be infatuated with and that makes him important, but it’s not love. It can feel like it and look like it, but it’s not that thing.
But then Rebecca admitted a few episodes back that she really DID love Josh. Not symbol Josh, not Josh’s chill life away from all the law harpies of New York. Just Josh. And I don’t get it. Maybe because the show has been so focused on her obtaining Josh that they haven’t actually convinced us that they’d be good for each other. They tell us that. Paula, especially, tells us that. But we’ve never seen what they, two very different people who dated for a summer in high school, whose current friendship is based entirely on obsession and lies, can actually offer each other. So I was excited when, in this week’s episode, Rebecca seemed to have really, truly given up on Josh Chan.
Which brings us to the second, equally disappointing point on this love triangle: Greg.
I think there were a couple of episodes in the early parts of this season when I was waiting for Greg and Rebecca to get together. Probably. Because while Rebecca and Josh have possibly literally nothing in common, she and Greg have an actual, palpable chemistry. Greg is the anti-Josh. We’re supposed to get them. Their banter is quick and funny and sends sparks flying all over the place. If only it weren’t used for pure evil. But it’s always been clear that they’re toxic to each other. Their whole relationship has been murder for Greg because of Rebecca’s obsession with Josh. And the show explored every angle of his position on her obsession: ignoring it, accepting it and wanting her anyway, accepting it and moving on, total cut-and-run.
But when it comes down to it, these two, as we know them now, would also be terrible for each other. There are a lot of love triangles where one person is clearly the weak link, or where neither guy is right for the girl (or vice versa), but this is a weird case wherein no one is right for anyone. This past week’s episode gave a spotlight to Greg, and his fatal flaw of Nice Guying. He finally acknowledged that his need for a chase, a struggle, a Cusackian sort of romantic martyrdom at the hands of Why Can’t She Just See How Great I Am, is damaging to his own self. As he found a stand-in mentee for his own issues in the Nice Guy grocery clerk who’s infatuated with his co-worker, Greg finally realized that his obsession may not be with Rebecca, but with the pain and glorious self-righteous smugness that comes from being unappreciated. (That feeling was doubled down on with the episode’s incredible new Weezery anthem for Gen X/Y/Millennials/basically everyone who grew up being told that being smart/creative/original was a stand-in for actually doing anything.)
The problem with this revelation of Greg’s, though, is that while he did recognize that his pursuit of Rebecca is unhealthy, we were still apparently supposed to be left feeling that Rebecca was making a mistake in not going for him. Greg’s issue buddy, grocery ‘fro guy, wanted the girl who has no interest him, and by the end of the episode he was proven right, that that woman had chosen the wrong guy and should have been with the nice slacker ‘fro all along. And by the end of the same episode, Rebecca had realized that Greg is the person she should be with. And why? Because he cares about her enough to call hospitals when he thinks she’s missing (as he did two episodes ago)? Because they have awesome banter? Yeah, you know what that makes them? GREAT POTENTIAL FRIENDS. But when both characters have only in this same episode recognized that they have damaging patterns and want to take a step back and better themselves, maybe throwing them at each other isn’t the best move. How about instead, we make this love triangle into a love pyramid, and every one of these people (Josh included, because OH YEAH, VALENCIA IS ACTUALLY HEINOUS) puts Self Love as their plus-one to the party that is their foreseeable future?
Now, the obvious point here might be that this is a television show, not doing what is “best” for the characters isn’t necessarily a mistake, it’s just part of the story. But I can’t help but continuously, in every episode, get the feeling that so many of these terrible choices seem to be what the people behind the show think is growth for the characters. I was so excited by the weird, uneven, but ultimately fun and poignant Ghost Therapist episode last week, because through the whole Ghost of Relationships Past trek, I was sure the moral was FINALLY going to be “love yourself.” That Rebecca DOES have love in her life, she just needs to love herself. But instead, the moral was that there are people who love her, and they include Greg. So sure, let’s throw her and Greg together!
I’ve been waiting this entire season for Rebecca to realize that she doesn’t love Josh, that she and Greg are poison to each other, and that everyone actually just needs to take a breath and invest in some Me Time. There is no character on this show that couldn’t benefit from some good, hearty introspection. I just wish the show itself could realize that. You’ve got two episodes left this season, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Please prove me wrong and take care of your characters.