Crazy Ex-Girlfriend s4 ep 13

Most of this week’s action takes place at the hospital where Paula is recovering from her heart attack. Rebecca is there to support Paula, and is also on prescribed medication herself after last week’s events. She’s somewhat ambivalent about that, but is reassured by Dr Akopian, in a full-on ‘La La Land’ song-and-dance number featuring some actual cast members from that movie, that everyone’s on antidepressants, so no big. (This show is making quite the contribution to breaking down the stigma around mental illness, incidentally.) Josh, Nathaniel, and “Greg” all turn up at the hospital as well, intending to see Rebecca. But they come into contact with an infection which requires them to be quarantined, meaning that their bickering about who deserves Rebecca more can turn into fully-fledged violence. Or whatever you call it when it’s a fight between Josh and “Greg”. And Darryl, in the waiting room, meets April, in what looks like it might be a fledgling romance until they find out that their daughters know each other and don’t get on.

Paula needs to get out of the hospital in order to sit the bar exam, but she isn’t discharged in time, and if she signs herself out there might be problems with her health insurance. So Rebecca, Valencia, and Heather resolve to break Paula out. It means so much to Paula to be an attorney, realises Rebecca; what do I really want to do? Not Rebetzels, that’s for sure. I assumed that, like every show written by a writer, which is of course all of them, Rebecca’s dream would be to be a writer. It isn’t, although it isn’t a million miles away.

By the end, Rebecca’s confessed to “Greg” about what happened last week, so they’ve decided to take some out. And Josh has been firmly friendzoned. Which means that, all of a sudden, Nathaniel can see a path back into Rebecca’s life. As I’ve said before, if I have to pick among them I’m Team Nathaniel, so fill your boots, dude. An episode long on charm, as might be expected, but I didn’t think there was quite enough substance to it.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend s4 ep 12

After four seasons of trying, Rebecca finally manages to persuade one of her suitors – “Greg” – to accompany her to Raging Waters, a waterpark. “Greg” visibly hates it – in a very real sense, I am “Greg” when it comes to waterparks – which, in turn, leads to an argument, as Rebecca thought for some reason that he would enjoy himself when he got there. (“Greg”’s musical explanation, the Springsteen-lite ‘I Hate Everything But You’, is just – “Even more examples!” – great.)

But the tension between them very quickly spirals out of control; as “Greg” observes, Rebecca hasn’t been going to therapy, and it affects her behaviour for the worse. He is, perhaps, a trifle mansplainy about it, but he’s also right. So they each go home on their own, and it’s then that the real trouble starts: Rebecca gets drunk and, still barely in control of her moods, heads over to Nathaniel’s house to try and seduce him. I am, of course, on Team Nathaniel, but not like this. He resists; as does Josh when she tries the same with him.

Meantime, Paula is suffering a meltdown of a different kind: she’s burning several candles at several ends, and suffering from physical symptoms which look like peri-menopause. When she finally makes it to her delightfully acerbic doctor, though, he takes a matter of seconds to diagnose her and phone the ICU: she is, he informs her, having a cardiac arrest. Paula is appalled. “I have stuff to do!” she pleads. “Cool”, replies her doctor. “Then put dropping dead on your to-do list for today”.

By the end Rebecca has reconnected with Dr Shin, who – in the face of her reluctant acquiescence – prescribes her some medication, and Paula is in recovery. It’s not the most joyous Crazy Ex-G, but it connected as satisfactorily as any episode this season.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend s4 ep 11

Nathaniel, obliged to watch Rebecca and Greg being happy together, is suffering the pain of unrequited love.  As is Maya (Esther Povitsky), whose ex-girlfriend is now with a woman who chews her hair. While trying to decide what to do Nathaniel daydreams himself into a rom-com pastiche, in which he and Maya conspire to make their ex-partners jealous, while maybe falling for each other. It’s a cute idea which, unfortunately, overstays its welcome by about 35 minutes, although it confirms yet again that Esther Povitsky is one of the best things in the show.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend s4 ep 10

This episode perhaps didn’t represent Crazy Ex-Girlfriend at its best, but it was so charming that it was impossible not to love it. Rebecca is no further forward with the three men in her life, none of whom wants to discuss that evening when they all ended up either on her patio or in her house. She, in turn, wants nothing to do with Hebecca, her biological daughter, which Darryl is unable to accept, so he pushes her into babysitting one night. Hebecca never cries, Rebecca is told. Except, of course, when Rebecca is left to care for her, when she won’t stop. This confirms Rebecca’s expectation that Hebecca hates her, and also plays into her feelings of inadequacy.

However, Greg comes over to “talk”. And not only can he soothe the baby, he can soothe Rebecca as well; and, after he confesses that he still has feelings for her, they kiss. And then have sex. The thing is, though, I would have been wholeheartedly behind this were it Rebecca and Greg. Actual Greg. OG Greg. Skylar Aston is doing a decent job, but he’s not playing Greg; he’s playing someone who played Greg. And that makes a difference, to me at least.

Meantime, Paula is hosting a games night, ostensibly for no reason, but in fact as a secret celebration of her graduating from law school, something she doesn’t want anyone to know about. I’m not entirely sure I followed Paula’s tortured logic here, but in short she seems to be more comfortable not being the centre of attention. There may be a gendered aspect to this. Anyway, the game to be played is Trial By Fire, a version of Celebrity featuring famous people who have been in court. Can I say that I would totally play this game? 

Josh and Nathaniel are paired together, though, which is problematic; there’s the whole Rebecca thing, and the fact that Josh is unreasonably dim. Scott Michael Foster – having, incidentally, a great week – makes the very most of his opportunity as Nathaniel to show irritation (“No, Josh, as a baby. Marvin Gaye was murdered as a baby. All the music that he made that you love? He made as a baby.”), then remember that he’s trying to be a nice guy, then actually be a nice guy. He and Josh bond, as guys the world over will, over sports. Or, at least, sports analogies. This being Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, they do so while performing a Rat Pack pastiche.

Nathaniel’s night comes to a sorry end, though, when Rebecca and Greg drop in post-coitally to celebrate Paula’s graduation, and he overhears Rebecca telling Paula that she and Greg did it. My order-of-endgame-preference, incidentally, is Greg > Nathaniel > “Greg” > Josh. Which I think means I’m on Team Nathaniel.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend s4 ep 9

Most of this episode is terrific. Rebecca’s storyline – in which she distracts herself from her feelings about her three exes by trying to sleep with Jason, the dude she connected with online – is a head-spinning mixture of feminism, guest stars, double-entendre-as-metaphor, romance, and gynaecology. Also a terrifically meta joke about Neil Patrick Harris, and colossal amounts of shade being thrown at ‘Cats’. It’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend at its full-tilt best, and it’s perilously close to genius. 

In the margins of that, Greg and Nathaniel meet-cute at the gym and start to hang out, both not yet knowing that they dated Rebecca. White Josh watches in horror as the inevitable day of revelation approaches. This is fine, even if I’m now pretty sure that New Greg isn’t as good. But Darryl’s plot, in which he’s feeling unloved in his workplace, and is at his neediest and whiniest, is no fun at all. 

Public Service Announcement 2 of 2019: Bull, Better Things, Sex Education, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

It’s difficult to know what to give top billing to. So let’s start with Bull, more or less explicitly a vehicle for Michael Weatherly with a slight procedural drama attached: he plays Dr Jason Bull, the head of a jury consulting firm. But really you could change “jury consulting firm” to “private investigation company” or, for that matter, “big-city FBI office”, and following some very minor tweaking of plots and characters it would still be the sort of thing one could half-watch while ironing, or idly perusing the web. Which is fine; as I keep saying, TV drama can’t – and shouldn’t – be wall-to-wall premium shows which need you to do your homework before and after watching. Season 2 ended with Dr Bull having a heart attack, and season 3 is now well under way in America, which suggests that, y’know, he survived, because the clue’s in the show’s title.

But here, of course, is the thing: Eliza Dushku, who was in three episodes at the end of the first season, and had been tapped for a regular role going forward, has just received a vast amount of cash money from CBS as an out-of-court settlement after being fired from the show following her complaints about Weatherly’s on-set conduct. This is… not good, and it will be interesting to see whether it affects the show’s future; traditionally, shows have kept going if they make financial sense, and everything would otherwise point to Bull being nailed-on for a fourth season. But the way in which the Roseanne reboot was summarily executed might suggest that times are changing (Friday 11 November, FOX (UK), 10pm).

And, continuing that general theme, the first season of acclaimed comedy-drama Better Things makes its way to the UK tonight. It’s very much a collaboration between the exceptional Pamela Adlon and her long-time friend and supporter Louis C.K.; between them, they wrote every episode in the first two seasons. Adlon – very often the best thing in Louie – stars as Sam Fox (a name which clearly has less significance in the US than in the UK), an actress and single parent to three children. (She has three children in real life.)

But here, again, is the thing: Louis C.K. has since been unmasked, to Adlon’s evident anguish, as a serial sexual predator, is not involved with the show’s third season, and in his post-shame comedy routines he appears to be doubling-down on being a persona non grata. This is… not good. I plan to keep the art and the artist firmly apart, though, and watch this show (tonight, BBC Two, 9pm).

Two less #problematic shows: Netflix’s dramedy Sex Education, starring Gillian Anderson as a sex therapist and Asa Butterfield as her teenage son, who starts to provide therapy to his peers. The critics who have seen it like it, generally quite a lot. And Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is back on Netflix in the UK this weekend for its final run of episodes. I haven’t found it easy to write about, but I’ve started so I’ll finish; reviews until the end.

Also starting: season 8 of amiable cops-in-the-sun drama Death in Paradise (tonight, BBC One, 9pm); season 2 of The Orville (tonight, FOX (UK), 9pm); season 2 of Friends From College (tomorrow, Netflix); and season 1 of Titans (tomorrow, Netflix).

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend s4 ep 8

It’s the last episode before the mid-season hiatus, and perhaps the most important one of the whole season, because Greg is back. Unfortunately Santino Fontana isn’t, and the role is now being played by Pitch Perfect’s Skylar Astin. Who is perfectly fine – some of his line readings are discernibly Old Greg, and he has a certain charm of his own – but he isn’t Fontana. Will this matter? We’ll find out, I suppose, in due course, when his chemistry with Rachel Bloom has a chance to develop. Which it might: Astin is an old friend of Bloom’s, and it appears to be generally accepted that Bloom and Fontana, excellent actors both, were never close.

Anyway, Greg’s back in town because it’s his high school reunion, which sparks the episode’s two other plots. Valencia reveals to a fascinated Heather that, at school, she cheated on Josh with someone, even declaring her love in a letter she put in their jacket on the last day, but never hearing anything more. The reunion between Valencia and her crush is surprising and moving, and yet another reminder of the strength of this show’s cast. Meantime, Josh – behaving, it has to be said, like a bit of a jerk – finds out that he wasn’t elected as prom king after all, ends up hanging out with George and the school’s magic club, and discovers that there’s more to life than being popular. It’s slight but, as Josh plots go, not at all bad.

The main event, though, is the return of Greg, trailed by Rebecca’s ongoing “romantic trills” in relation to Josh and Nathaniel. Is she, she wonders, meant to be with either of them? Nope, say Heather and Valencia, everyone thinks that she’s meant to be with Greg. (Unpopcult certainly does.) “Greg who we literally never talk about?” asks Rebecca. “That Greg?” If not that Greg, certainly a Greg. Quite properly, the show leans into the recasting rather than pretending it isn’t happening: Rebecca observes, on several occasions, that he’s like a completely different person.

And they reconnect. There’s a dazzling, playful song which narrates their attempt to have a fresh start while acknowledging that they, simultaneously, have a whole heck of a lot of baggage; in particular, Greg doesn’t know that Rebecca slept with his father, and she agonises about whether to tell him or not, eventually coming to the conclusion that if he’s going to find out anyway – which he probably will – he needs to hear it from her. That she told him, and his underplayed reaction, is offered as an example of personal growth on both sides, leaving open the outside possibility of further romance. (Maybe it is. Maybe it does. But still. His father. Ew.) Although Greg’s transformation gives the whole thing an air of unreality, underpinned by a good running meta joke about how he’s going to be there until the end of the series… of holidays, it’s a strong episode.