Recap: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Episode 1: “Josh Just Happens to Live Here!” The CW, original airdate Mon. 10/12/15
(For all Crazy Ex recaps, click here.)
The long-awaited CW hourlong musical comedy Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
premiered tonight, and in my humble opinion, it was fantastic. The show’s co-creator and star Rachel Bloom is hilarious — and I already can’t wait for next week. For those of you who missed the premiere and plan on watching it later, go no further in this blog, as I’m recapping the whole kit and caboodle. Spoilers abound! (But when you’re done watching, I beg you in my own crazy fashion, please come back and discuss the first episode.)
The show begins with an introduction to Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) as a teenager, singing and dancing in a production on the last day of summer camp, back in 2005. Moments later, we meet her summer camp boyfriend, Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III). Just when it seems that she will never stop talking about her part in the musical, she starts talking about their relationship and does.not.stop — and Josh doesn’t even try to get a word in. This summer has been the best of her life, she tells him, and begins to talk schedules (“I’ll visit at Christmas,” etc.). He finally pipes in that this has been a great summer, but … (We’ve all been there in some way, shape or form, haven’t we? The dreaded I don’t like you as much as you like me moment. It’s awful.) He tells Rebecca that maybe they should take a break. “But I love you,” she tells him. “Thanks for that, I mean it,” he responds. Crushed, Rebecca leaves summer camp, never to return. (Her overbearing mother has her do mock trials the following summer, we later find out. Rebecca’s mom is only concerned with Rebecca’s future.)
Cut to the future. Ten years later, she’s a hot mess, retainer and all, wine bottle behind her bed, listening to a rambling message from her mom while surfing dating sites on the web. A margarine commercial on her MacBook tells her to ask herself “when was the last time you were truly happy?”
At work (a law firm), she finds out from a coworker (who for some reason must like to ruin surprises) that she’s about to be promoted. But Rebecca panics when she sees that same margarine ad in print, and rushes out of the building, with the flimsy excuse that she needs a smoothie. She seems to be going through some sort of early-onset midlife-crisis: she feels like she’s supposed to be happy; clearly, she is not. Outside, she tries to talk herself into happiness, even prays to a God she doesn’t believe in, in a search for guidance. And there’s that margarine ad again, on a billboard. (“What a weird ad campaign,” she says.) And there’s Josh Chan, just walking down the street. It’s gotta be a sign. (Cue angelic music. It’s definitely a sign!)
She runs after Josh, they chat, and he’s still gorgeous. She’s smitten all over again when he tells her he’s always wished he’d run into her again. She suggests they hang out, but it turns out that Josh is done with the NYC rat race, and is moving back to West Covina, California. (Only 2 hours from the beach … 4 in traffic.) People just seem happy out there, he tells her. He tells her what a shame it was that he let her — a good one — get away (there’s that angel music again), and gives her his card so she can look him up if she ever happens to be in West Covina.
Back up in her boss’ office, she looks sad and perplexed as her boss offers her the position of junior partner. After thanking her boss and rambling about the ticking clock that is destiny, Rebecca respectfully declines, telling her that another opportunity has knocked on her door. When asked if it’s another firm, she tries to bolt — she must know how crazy she sounds — but they press and she tells them she’s going “where dreams live.”
And where do dreams live? Why, West Covina, California, of course. This is where the “musical” part of the musical comedy genre comes in, and it’s fantastic — very broadway-esque (see the picture at the top of this post). At first, when she gets out of the cab, I think that it’s some sort of dream sequence, but no, she IS moving to West Covina! West Covina, where “also by coincidence, Josh just happens to be here.” She tries to impress upon the world (or maybe just convince herself) that she just moved here for a change, not because of him because that would be CRAZY. Some backup dancers and a middle school band help her with her song, which concludes with her hanging above the street in a giant pretzel. (Did anyone else crave salt after seeing this shot?)
The glamour of the song and dance is starkly contrasted by the next shot, where a pajama-clad Rebecca pours her pills (antidepressants?) down the sink drain of the kitchen in her new, empty apartment, and hangs up on her mom, who is freaking out: “Rebecca, I just checked The Facebook. You moved to California …” She sits down on the couch, texts Josh a totally casual message, then waits FOREVER for a reply text. The next morning, she’s still on the couch, and Josh still hasn’t written back. And it’s time for work!
At her new law firm, her flaky new boss Darryl (Pete Gardner), who is 1/8 Chippewa and wants to be called “Chief,” is so happy — and confused — to have such a high-caliber attorney working there. In fact, her presence in this not-prestigious firm puzzles everyone. Rebecca went to Harvard and speaks Mandarin! What the hell is she doing here, one of them wonders. This is Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin), the head paralegal (not the assistant that Rebecca mistakenly assumes she is). Paula is quite suspicious of Rebecca, and tells coworker Mrs. Hernandez (Gina Gallego) as much. We get the picture that maybe Paula is a little crazy, too. In the meantime, Randy brings Rebecca to a
den of wolves his office. With his foot wedged firmly in his mouth, he tells her he wants her to represent him in his custody case. (I’m pretty sure that’s not all he wants her for, but that remains to be seen.) Her specialty is real estate, so at first she balks, but then seems to have a change of heart — but before she can discuss it much, she gets an alert that Josh has checked in somewhere, and she bolts.
She heads to a restaurant/batting cage/bar, called Home Base, where she expects to find Josh. Greg (Santino Fontana), the bartender, seems pretty taken with her (despite the fact that he’s sure she belongs in a wine bar), and strikes up a conversation that she half listens to — until he tells her that he has a friend from NYC (Josh Chan, of course). Suddenly he has 100% of her attention. “That’s crazy! I know him!” It turns out she just missed him, but he’ll be at a party that Greg will be at, tomorrow. Greg asks Rebecca if she’d like to go, and she sees this as an opportunity to see Josh; poor Greg sees this as an opportunity for a date.
The next day at work, a little of Paula’s crazy shines through when she shows up wearing the exact same outfit Rebecca wore the day before. Still suspicious, pointing out that she doesn’t buy any of Rebecca’s “I don’t know anyone here” stories, Paula furiously vows to figure her out. While she gets down to business investigating Rebecca, Rebecca gets down to business prepping for her date with Greg. Except, well, she’s not getting ready for Greg. She’s all about looking good for Josh in “The Sexy Getting Ready Song.” This song … I’m in stitches. This was my favorite musical number of the night, by far — especially the part where we see how the guys get ready — though the blood loss while waxing was hilarious too. (Side note: If you like this song, just go to YouTube and type in Rachel Bloom. You will NOT be disappointed.) 😂
The party is predictably awkward. Rebecca is constantly scanning for Josh, and Greg starts to catch on, so to cover her crazy, and reassure him, she starts kissing him. The problem is, she can’t stop looking for Josh. She and Greg make out all over the house, and all the while, while kissing, she searches for Josh. (That’s not just crazy, that’s coordinated.)
Finally, the pair ends up in an empty bedroom together, and as they sit down on the bed to do whatever it is that people do in empty bedrooms at parties (who knows what that is?), Greg gets a text from Josh. He can’t make it — his girlfriend is making him go to something. Red alert! Like any able-bodied single woman with Internet access, Rebecca has fervently Facebook stalked Josh, and his profile definitely does not list a girlfriend. Try as she might, and lie as she might, she can’t hide her disappointment and keeps asking about Josh — and his girlfriend. She tries to put the moves on Greg anyway, but he’s smart, and knows better than to hook up with a crying girl, so he offers to take her home.
As they head out — surprise! — Paula’s heading in, wanting a chat with Rebecca. Paula did some reconnaissance work, and knows all about Josh (because Rebecca checked his Facebook page a mere 63 times, and his Instagram 18 times, that day). After Rebecca points out that she could have Paula fired for snooping in her computer, and they go back and forth with Rebecca explaining why she moved out to California, and asserting that she’s not crazy, she comes to the realization that maybe she IS crazy. This turns the tide; Paula softens up a lot here. She reassures Rebecca that this isn’t crazy, this is true love, and together they’re going to WIN JOSH! Rebecca declares the whole thing pointless – he has a girlfriend, after all — and Paula points out that his Facebook says he’s single and he wouldn’t put that out there if he were really into this girlfriend of his. Paula assures Rebecca that one day, he’s going to text her.
Just at that moment, Rebecca gets a text (complete with a 😊) from Josh, asking her if she wants to grab dinner. The West Covina song starts back up and Paula joins in on the singing — they’re going to kick things into high gear and both agree that “it’s so great that this guy Josh just happens to be here.” Paula asks Rebecca if she wants to drive past Josh’s house. That’s the mark of a good friend – someone who will help you “accidentally” run into that guy you’ve had your eye on. That’s not crazy … is it? (Yeah, okay, it is. Nonetheless, I think Paula and Rebecca are going to be the best of friends.)