‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ midseason finale is less crazy, more ex(ceptionally distasteful)

The promotional poster of 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' Season 3 is pictured. (Courtesy Seat42F)

Content warning: This article mentions suicide.

The shortened daylight hours and the rapid approach of the holidays always mark the end of a fall semester, but for TV viewers it also indicates winter finale season. Since most shows go on a winter hiatus and viewers have to wait several weeks before their favorite TV characters return to the screen in the new year, TV writers often go to great lengths to ensure that the last episode before the break is surprising and exciting, and it often ends with an unforgettable, mind-blowing cliffhanger. Accordingly, fans of The CW’s “Supernatural” (2005–) felt anything but let down after watching that midseason finale earlier this week. Unfortunately, for dedicated viewers of another CW show, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (2015–), the same cannot be said.

At its core, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is a musical comedy. If the musical element suffers, so does the comedy; therefore, the success of the show is based entirely on the music. In the early days of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” before it became a cult phenomenon, there might have been three, sometimes even four songs in an episode, all of them hilariously relevant and relatable. Recently, however, viewers are lucky to get two songs, each deserving of at most a polite chuckle. The songs in last week’s midseason finale seemed rushed and forced, and as if viewers needed to feel even more cheated, both were solos. (The show’s ensemble songs tend to be of much higher quality.) And just like the songs themselves, the plot supporting them could not have been weaker.

Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) has been the sole focus of the show for several episodes, so it is understandable that her close friend Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin) is finally in the spotlight. Nevertheless, her storyline is essentially a contrived version of the show as a whole. Upon spotting her longtime ex-boyfriend, Jeff Chanington, at the supermarket, Paula sings “First Penis I Saw.” When asked by an employee why she is staring at Jeff so intensely, Paula answers, “He’s my Josh Chan,” as if his name alone didn’t already make that obvious enough. Moreover, unlike with Josh and Rebecca, who actually have a romantic backstory, Paula’s song seems to imply that the only reason she still cares about Jeff at all is that she was impressed by his penis, which adds an element of misogyny the show has never before expressed. Worse, Jeff proves to be completely irrelevant; after he tells Paula that she is important and meaningful as her own person and not just as a best friend or coworker, Paula simply thanks him and leaves, transforming what could have been a new, interesting romantic development into the ultimate anticlimax. Thus, rather than demonstrating how the character of Paula can truly exist in its own space, the writers instead expose how flawed a character Paula actually is.

After nearly killing herself and being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, Rebecca appears to be doing well in the recovery process. She strictly follows the treatment plan her doctor outlined for her (although in true Rebecca fashion, she goes above and beyond, hoping the doctor will give her an A+), and is overall much happier with herself than perhaps ever before. However, it is clear that in some ways she has made no improvement whatsoever. She tries to refrain from maintaining a sexual relationship with Nathaniel (Scott Michael Foster) because her doctor advises against it, but eventually begins sexting him before giving in completely and “visiting” him. In this way, she has not moved on from Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III), but rather has replaced him with another man she cannot help but become emotionally attached to. Yet at the end of the episode, when she tells the doctor about her sexual encounter (as well as other actions she took throughout the episode that more likely harm her than help), she adds that she has finally realized that being human is not as black and white as she originally believed, to which the doctor responds by giving her the coveted A+. Dude, did you not hear all the other things she just told you? With a doctor like that, it will not be a surprise if Rebecca never gets better.

Other fun parts of the episode include Josh missing out on a date due to a staph infection, the continuation of the never-ending argument between White Josh (David Hull) and Darryl (Pete Gardner) about whether to have a baby and a notable lack of Valencia (Gabrielle Ruiz). If the show keeps moving in this direction, it will soon be the crazy ex-CW show that never should have made it to a third season in the first place.


Summary

Lacking plot depth and subpar musical performances make for a disappointing midseason finale of "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend."

2 stars
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