“Why is Josh’s Girlfriend Eating Carbs?” is a lot like Electric Mesa, the fictional desert meditation retreat that serves as the episode’s backdrop: meandering and strange but still a good time overall. That’s largely thanks to particularly sharp writing, led this week by Sono Patel. An episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend can rise or fall based on the quality of Rebecca’s non sequiturs and this week’s episode has so many good ones: a fixation on feminist author Roxane Gay’s twitter account, an aside about the pleasures of public pooping, and a hint that our protagonist might have a fetish for being choked with red licorice. I’d be happy just listening to Rebecca’s stream of consciousness for an hour.
Alas, there’s an actual plot to discuss and that’s where “Why is Josh’s Girlfriend Eating Carbs?” falls a tad short. The central conceit of Rebecca tricking Valencia into bonding with her at Electric Mesa is sound, and it ultimately results in one of the season’s best moments: both women taking turns telling Josh off after peeing all over his AV equipment. And the B plot about Darryl and White Josh navigating jealousy, age gaps, and the L-word is one of the most honest and heartwarming stories I’ve seen on TV this year. Who could have predicted way back when Crazy Ex-Girlfriend premiered that it would produce a revolutionary depiction of a bisexual-homosexual couple? Brava.
But one of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s bad habits all along has been the throwaway C Story, and “Why is Josh’s Girlfriend Eating Carbs” places that particular burden on Paula. There’s really no substance to Paula and her new law school friend’s caper this week. They steal some advanced note-taking software from a classmate in scenes that feel more like afterthoughts. Of course, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a show that likes to play the long game with its side characters so who knows? Maybe Paula’s new law school buddy will become an essential part of the series. More likely is the possibility that the writers are ramping up the distance between Rebecca and her longtime BFF to build up to a confrontation down the line—and the closing scenes suggest as much.
Ultimately, a bad subplot can’t sink “Why is Josh’s Girlfriend Eating Carbs?,” especially when we get to hear Josh sing a Jack Johnson-style soft acoustic number about the horror of being alone with your thoughts. (His “oh oh ohs” turning into “no no nos” and eventually “Edgar Allen Poe Poe Poes” was a brilliant touch.) And it remains true that even on weeks when Crazy Ex-Girlfriend doesn’t have a particularly strong structure, the show itself, like a house that needs renovation, still has “good bones.” I promise that if the series ever does go astray, I’ll write a scathing review. For now, the sophomore season is shaping up to be even better the first.
May Saunders is a professional dog walker living in Minneapolis and an occasional freelance writer. In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out with her cat, who does not need to be walked. Follow her on Twitter.