Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Review: “Paula Needs to Get Over Josh!”

Comedy Reviews Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
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<i>Crazy Ex-Girlfriend</i> Review: &#8220;Paula Needs to Get Over Josh!&#8221;

The first season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ends with Rebecca getting everything she wanted. Josh Chan locks eyes with her at a wedding, sweeps her off her feet, and reveals that he reciprocates her feelings for him. But this is not what Rebecca really needs, namely therapy, friendship and sex with people who she hasn’t been stalking for months. As far as finales go, putting Rebecca in this position is a smart move: it moves the overarching story forward while also hitting the reset button on her personal growth in time for a fresh slate of problems in—thank you, The CW—season two.

But it’s also a finale that raises important questions about the long-term future of the show: Can the show outlast the Josh-Rebecca pairing? And how much can Rebecca heal without compromising the premise—and the title—of the show?

Technically speaking, this is a good finale. Parts of it are great. Everything that makes Crazy Ex-Girlfriend special is here: a showstopping musical number, witty dialogue, that unique blend of cynicism and heart. On top of that standard but still substantial accomplishment, it checks off a lot of season finale tickboxes. Big event? Josh’s sister’s wedding. Breakups? You bet. Sex? Absolutely. Structurally speaking, Greg’s self-sabotaging behavior and Paula’s grudge-holding are both perfect conflicts to pile on top of the main event. But because everything is running so smoothly and all of the beats are landing as expected, it’s easy to let your mind wander to those broader questions about the fate of this series as you watch.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has already proved that Rebecca need not be in pursuit of Josh for the series to work. Last week’s episode struggled to find footing in the Rebecca-Paula segments, sure, but the Rebecca-Greg relationship was terrific and Josh-free. But you can’t spend sixteen hours telling a story about Rebecca lusting after Josh, only to drop that thread at the end of the season. The problem with the show, then, is that it set out to tell a serial story but along the way its characters began to overshadow the driving narrative. In that sense, it almost parallels the experience of watching Twin Peaks and realizing you care less about who killed Laura Palmer and more about Audrey Horne. And much like Twin Peaks, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend will either have to end or figure out a way to stave off the diminishing returns of its original conceit.

If this finale commits a sin, it’s one of omission: not having the foresight to future-proof the show in one of its most pivotal moments. Remember how the show carefully invested in and slowly told a bisexual coming out story earlier this season? In the finale, we get one glimpse of Darryl and White Josh at the wedding in adorable matching tuxedos and that’s it. Ever think about how amazing Vella Lovell is as Heather and wish that the series figured out a better way to deploy her talents? In the finale, she pops her head in to give Rebecca some advice and then takes off. Valencia, too, probably should have been given more to do earlier in the season before walking away from Josh in the finale because, now, her place in the show’s ecosystem is unclear. To last longer than another season, this will have to become less of a story about a girl chasing a boy and more of an ensemble musical comedy about people who are all, as they sang in the holiday episode, finding themselves.

This episode can only be faulted so much for delivering solidly on the conventions that we have come to expect from season finales. But it’s also a missed opportunity to defy those very expectations, which is something that we have come to expect from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

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.