There’s a lot to love about “Josh and I Work on a Case!” Rebecca goes full on Professor Harold Hill in a half talking, half singing musical number in which she convinces the tenants of Josh’s apartment complex to sue their landlord over a lack of hot water. Daryl realizes he’s bisexual and kisses White Josh on the mouth, eliciting screams of glee from #WhiteJoshFeather shippers everywhere. And there’s a spot-on social critique of the “group hang” that doubles as a Shakira parody. It’s exactly the kind of zany idiosyncratic mix that has earned Crazy Ex-Girlfriend its following. But this week, it needed just a little more polish to pull it all together.
“Josh and I Work on a Case!” doubles down on last week’s cringe-heavy plot, sending Rebecca on a desperate journey to get back in Josh’s good graces. Her solution: make him a client in a lawsuit so that they’ll have to spend a lot of time together working the case. Meanwhile, Daryl juggles his impossibly cute crush on White Josh with an internal crisis over his sexual orientation. Is he gay? Straight? Bi?
The main storyline is almost too painful to watch. Since returning from winter break, Crazy Ex has smartly seesawed between episodes in which Rebecca pushes Josh away with stalkerish tactics (the party bus, the “textmergency”) and an episode in which she reels him back in with those big Bambi eyes (camp). But rather than continuing in that pattern, Rebecca is still on the rocks with her crush in “Josh and I Work on a Case!” and, worse, Greg and Valencia are teaming up to take her down. This show is good at punching us in the gut—a scene in which Rebecca overhears Josh telling his guy friends that he doesn’t feel comfortable being alone with her is devastating—but after ending on “You Ruined Everything!” last week, a recovery period would have been welcome before the next blow. Instead, the episode starts off pessimistic and even hits notes that are downright sinister. Greg, for instance, seems to have suddenly gone from being ambivalent about Rebecca in the last episode to being dead-set on thwarting her every move this time around.
Luckily, #WhiteJoshFeather is here to cheer us all up. Ever since White Josh kissed Daryl on the cheek two episodes ago, some fans—this reviewer included—lost sight of the Josh-Rebecca-Greg triangle and began yearning for some steamy same-sex romance. Too often, shows like this tease us with the promise of an LGBT plotline but never deliver—a practice known as ”queerbaiting”—so I was prepared to wait and ready to be disappointed. But Crazy Ex-Girlfriend delivered. Wow, did it deliver. I mean…
Congratulations, Darryl! Who's excited to see more #WhiteJoshFeather on #CrazyExGirlfriend? pic.twitter.com/MEJ7YgFvJ2— Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (@CW_CrazyXGF) February 23, 2016Crazy Ex has been so smart about diversity in its storytelling and the show’s handling of Daryl’s bisexuality is no exception. He is sexual without being portrayed as stereotypically hypersexual. He is ready to embrace being what he adorably calls “bothsexual,” but not before working through some kneejerk defensiveness and confusion when White Josh first assumes that he’s exclusively interested in men. This is excellent subject matter that is so rarely explored on television with any level of sensitivity and care. And when Daryl swoops in for the kiss, you’ll temporarily forget about the fact that one of the episode’s songs could have used a bit more punch or that a couple of characters seemed written inconsistently.
As with any episode of Crazy Ex, the good here outweighs the bad. There’s only one woman making television who loves The Music Man enough to make a musical number modeled after “Ya Got Trouble” and her name is Rachel Bloom. The writing continues to get sharper every week, with weird jokes—like comparing pretext to pre-, um, ejaculate—coming out of left field when you least expect them. But there’s a careful balance between cringe comedy and heart that a show like this has to walk, and this week, it faltered just a little.