‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ shifts from loneliness to love

Monday, October 24, 2016 - 7:17pm

NOSELL

The CW

 

When it premiered last year, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” seemed to be nothing more than a whimsical, goofy TV show about a girl who takes a crush too far. As the season progressed, it evolved into an unorthodox look at mental health and relationships. Buried in the silliness of each episode were moments of truth. Season one of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” was a fresh, witty profile of people desperate for companionship and, more importantly, love.

Season two moves away from the crazy things people do to find a relationship to the even crazier things people do to stay in one. The theme song, historically serving as a thesis statement for the season, begins with “I’m just a girl in love.” Clearly, this season is all about being together, not apart — whatever it takes.

Surprisingly, the first healthy relationship shown in the episode is Paula (Donna Lynne Champlain, “Birdman”) and Scott (Steve Monroe, “Miss Congeniality”), whose marriage was on the rocks for much of the first season. In their kitchen, they talk about normal, happy, healthy couple things like the arrival of their sex harness from Amazon Prime, kids and of course, Rebecca (Rachel Bloom, “Robot Chicken”) and Josh (Vincent Rodriguez, “Donny!”). For the first time since Paula joined Team Rebecca, she is not supportive of the relationship.

And what exactly is Rebecca and Josh’s relationship? It can best be described as a “live-in booty call.” They’re having sex and it’s clearly on Josh’s terms … despite the fact that he is now living with Rebecca. His refusal to sleep in bed with her is the first red flag that although Rebecca finally gets to be with Josh, she’s still in denial about the truth. “Love Kernels,” a hilarious homage to Beyoncé’s “Lemonade,” further explores the nature of the unequal relationship. Rebecca is so desperate to keep the relationship alive that she will trick herself into believing a 3:00 a.m. “You Up?” text means love.

Both songs in the episode focus solely on Josh and Rebecca. This raises the question of what kind of season this will be. The songs usually heighten the main storylines of each episode; “Love Kernels” and “We Should Definitely Not Have Sex Right Now” make it apparent that Rebecca and Josh is the most important storyline. Season one spent so much time curating relationships and quirky characters that it’s important to see the payoff in season two. Will a relationship-themed season allow for that, or will it hurt the ensemble quality which makes the show so special?

Specifically missing from the first episode were two of those charming supporting characters, Darryl (Pete Gardner, “Project X”) and White Josh (David Hull, “The Middle”). Their storyline was in the episode just enough to make sure viewers didn’t forget about them. However, the purpose of their presence, to cement the theme of “crazy for love,” was all they contributed to the episode. Similar to Paula and Scott, Darryl and White Josh are another established, happy couple used to represent the overall shift from loneliness to love.

The only lonely person is probably the show’s most sympathetic character, Greg (Santino Fontana, “Frozen”). Greg’s discovery of his alcoholism was an unexpected twist, handled with exactly the level of humanity viewers have come to expect from “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” His underlying issues — anger, escapism, self-deprecation — from the first season finally come to fruition. If anyone in the cast is immediately set up for large personal growth, it’s Greg. In his poignant speech at Alcoholics Anonymous, he shares that he is already “less angry.” This is huge for anyone who knows Greg.

It looks like “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is poised and ready for another season of finding love and happiness through the worst possible methods. Already, Rebecca has taken a normal gesture (giving someone a drawer) to unreachable heights (installing “The Entertainer” to play in said decked-out drawer). It’s exciting and a little scary to see what is in store for the characters.With Rebecca Bunch, a little goes a long way (from New York to West Covina, for example). Where, oh where, will she take viewers this season?