“She’s playing ping pong on her own terms, so I’m the pursuer”
After a fun but somewhat lacking season premiere, I was worried that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was entering a sophomore slump. While this show has always been broad, we were venturing into borderline cartoon territory. However, all of those worries have been completely eviscerated by “When Will Josh See How Cool I Am?” Not only were the songs and jokes much stronger, but we’re really starting to see some character growth and, dare I say it, maturity.
We find Rebecca once again trying to get Josh to engage and spend time with her. After all, he’s been swamped with karate class and backyard football games (a sport that Rebecca thinks should be illegal, but is totally cool with). When Josh mentions that he has an upcoming ping pong game the next day, Rebecca barges herself in by saying that she was a ping pong champion as a kid. Once again, Rebecca has to lie to both herself and Josh to score even the slightest bit of attention from him, what an adorable couple. Thus, we find Rebecca bringing in an actual child ping pong champion to give her some pointers, instead of writing a letter of recommendation for Paula, who is applying for law school.
Speaking of good ol’ Paula – –
Maybe This Dream: All of the songs this week dealt with the progress, or lack thereof, our supporting characters have made. Paula’s very Disney princess-esque number had her frolicking through the office, reflecting on how her life has passed her by without much gain (comedy!). I’m normally a bit cold on Paula songs, but this was one of her best. It slowly built from the tale of her wedding (“the band played there goes the bride…but she came back”) to a frighteningly vivid anecdote about the horrors of cramps while running. All of this paired with Donna Lynne Champlin’s operatic vocals made for the first truly effective song of the season.
However, the man who really brought this show raging back to life was Greg (no surprise). Greg had a hell of a lot to deal with this week, essentially having to repair his relationships with the entire cast. It’s an arc we’ve seen many times before, but what made it work here is the genuine growth we’re already seeing in Greg. Don’t get me wrong, he’s nowhere near perfect. He’s still bottling up his emotions somewhat, but he’s also processing them in a much more healthy way. He certainly convinced his friends of that during – –
Greg’s Drinking Song: This fun Celtic party jam felt like it was pulled straight out of Galavant, and it worked like a charm. Much like Maybe This Dream, Greg’s drinking anecdotes were both hilarious and a little disturbing. We now know the man has had sex with a bush, and I will never unknow that. However, what really stood out here was the chemistry between Greg, Josh, White Josh, and Hector. Their supporting ribbing of Greg as he reminisced felt exactly like what a real group of guy friends would do in this exaggerated world.
That said, Josh is still a selfish jerkface. He spent the majority of this episode freaking out about telling Greg about him and Rebecca. As a result, he decided to make everything about Greg’s recovery about him, which is some very Rebecca-like behavior. Didn’t take long for him to crack, though. Greg took the high road – – to Josh’s face. That high road lasted all of five seconds though when Heather (nice to see her again) called him out, reminding him that getting sober does not mean “turning into a robot.” That seemed to register, as during an all too brief reprise of I Could If I Wanted To he worked up the rage to punch a hole in a wall.
Which brings us to ping pong. The boys (sans Greg) have arrived at the bar for the game, and to put it lightly, Rebecca has been overthinking it – –
Ping Pong Girl: If there was ever a perfect way to define Josh Chan, it is through a Bowling for Soup esque pop punk song. Seriously, Vincent Rodriguez III sounds almost exactly like Jaret Reddick, it’s scary. This little ditty projected what Rebecca hoped Josh would think of her newfound ping pong skills. Namely, that it would make him realize how “cool” she is and make him want to settle down with her. The lyrics conveyed this beautifully through perfectly timed asides (“Girl…girl…let’s share a Costco card!”) and a hilariously stereotypical view of sausage fest rock bands. It’s hard to say if it topped Greg’s Drinking Song, but it certainly furthered the narrative a great deal more.
To cap the episode off, we were given two strong and long overdue emotional climaxes.
After Rebecca tracks down Greg at a duck pond, the two finally have it out about what happened on that fateful wedding night. This wonderful conversation was a reminder of what genuinely great actors Rachel Bloom and Santino Fontana are, and the writing met them in the middle wonderfully. Greg saying that when he found out about Rebecca and Josh he “picked out a drink, glass, and ice” before hitting a wall was truly heart wrenching, as was the callback to the fact that he picked her because Rebecca wasn’t interested in him. With that said, one minor false note threw off the authenticity just a hair. It’s revealed that Greg got into his DUI while driving to Rebecca’s house to tell her that he loved her. While I believe that Greg would do such a thing, the way it was delivered was very schmaltzy. Instead of saying something that might have implied that, they went for a true CW moment and laid it all out there. Even so, it was still the high point of the season so far. Hopefully, this path of enlightenment and forgiveness that Greg is on isn’t regressed too heavily when Rebecca inevitably pulls him back in.
Then came a moment that I have been waiting for since the show began. Rebecca was telling Josh about how mature Greg has become. Josh, now that the heat was off of him, seemed more interested in his video games. After asking Rebecca to join, she admits that she not only doesn’t like video games but that she only joined them for ping pong to spend time with him. She called him out on the fact that he does, in fact, live with her, and as the icing on the cake, came to a realization that she’s needed to drum up for a long time.
“I deserve to be with someone who treats me well.”
Finally. Last week, it seemed as though every character on the show was evolving except for Rebecca, but that isn’t the case at all. After a season and change, Rebecca has had her first honest moment with the “man of her dreams.” This season isn’t about keeping Josh, it’s about realizing that he wasn’t worth a damn in the first place. If Rebecca’s sleeping with Greg’s sweatshirt in the final moment of this episode is any indication, she’s finally starting to grasp that.