Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Darryl's bisexuality 'isn't the butt of the joke'
Darryl Whitefeather (Pete Gardner) had something to say — or rather, sing — in front of his entire office on Monday night’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. The bumbling boss discovered he’s bisexual when he found himself attracted to White Josh (David Hull), who first planted a kiss on him after Darryl had a few people over. But why recap when you can read Darryl’s jubilant lyrics to “Gettin’ Bi,” his ’80s-inspired coming-out song? They explain everything:
I don’t know how, I don’t know why
But I like ladies, and I like guys
I realize, it’s a surprise
But now I see that that’s just me, it’s not like I even tried
As he giddily hops around the conference room, Darryl is doing more than just coming out to his colleagues: He’s become one of few male bisexual characters on TV who’s given screentime to both explore his newfound understanding of his sexuality and to enter into a relationship with another character: White Josh. (Previously, White Josh had been more of a punchline than a human being himself.) More important, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend uses just as much care in portraying Darryl and White Josh’s romance as it does with Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) and Josh’s (Vincent Rodriguez III) relationship. Darryl’s bisexuality isn’t used as a joke or a shock tactic (or, as critics have pointed out, a provocative power move). Instead, he’s just a man in love. He doesn’t know how. He doesn’t know why.
But to Gardner, the significance of Darryl’s bisexuality isn’t weighing too heavily on his mind. “Honestly, I’ve just treated it as any other romantic storyline,” he says. “It’s just about falling in love, and that’s what’s so great about this show. It hasn’t been like one episode and all of a sudden, Darryl’s gay. It has been very slow.”
In fact, it took five episodes for Darryl to come out to his colleagues. Early episodes established him as a recently divorced dad who loves his daughter (but not in a creepy way). Only after hanging out with Rebecca’s friends did he start having a crush on White Josh — and even then, he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. By the time Darryl and White Josh kissed, Bloom was invested enough in the pair to stop by the shoot — and cried when she saw the two lock lips for the first time, Gardner previously told EW. Below, the actor talks Darryl’s development:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you learn that Darryl was going to be bisexual?
PETE GARDNER: I found out the very first day on set, when [writers] Aline [Brosh McKenna] and Rachel [Bloom] invited me to the set, and they had a meeting in the writers’ room so the writers could get to know me. In there, they had this enormous wall, and on the wall, they have all the episodes broken down. They start walking down the wall, and they’re like, “Okay, here in episode 5, you’re gonna sing your song,” and I was like, “Oh boy, okay!” And then they go down, and they’re like, “Oh and here, in episode 11, that’s where [you realize] you’re bisexual.” That’s pretty much it. I was like, “Well, all right!” [Laughs]
How did you approach this story arc when it eventually came around? Did you talk to Aline and Rachel about it?
No, not really … I just played it like a love story. The great thing is, it didn’t have to be sanitized or made extra special because it’s a love story between two guys. It’s just a love story, and love stories have bumps and mistakes and weird things [happen]. First, on the bus episode, you see that Darryl’s fitspiration is White Josh, who he thinks is awesome. But then, White Josh responds in kind. And then there’s another episode, and he kisses him on the cheek, and then Darryl goes and starts to talk to him, and I mean, it’s all very slow and very genuine! And it’s not about sex, it’s not about anything manipulative. It’s all about this relationship. Also, Darryl’s a funny character, so he can still be funny. His sexuality isn’t the butt of the joke, you know what I mean? … It’s very subtle, and very light. It’s not like, “This is the way you should think,” or anything.
What’s the biggest challenge to getting this development?
To be honest, I don’t think there’s a hard part about it. To me, everything is just gravy. I love it. I love the challenge and the opportunity to play a part like this. Anytime you have a love relationship … you really have to share yourself in order to believe there’s a relationship there. It’s such a fantastic opportunity.
Obviously, this show’s known for its musical segments as well as its humor. Do you have a favorite song you’ve done?
I’m always one to like what I’m doing at the moment, so I like “Gettin’ Bi.” I thought that was so much fun. It’s like Huey Lewis. There was so much dancing in that one, as opposed to “I Love My Daughter,” [though] that will always be near and dear to me, because that was the first one I had to go and sing at the table read for the producers and all the people at the network. I was scared to death! [Laughs] The singing is so much easier than the dancing. Harder for me, anyway. The rest of the guys are all Broadway dancers … [When] we do our table reads, everybody’s laughing and crying and cheering and singing. These table reads have been insane. These Broadway actors singing their songs right there, two feet away from you … it’s amazing! It’s brilliant!
What can you tease about Darryl and White Josh going forward?
I think Darryl is just head over heels and can’t believe his good fortune. [White Josh] is somebody he’s had an eye on for years or however long he’s been at the health club … But at the same time, I think that that’s the real thing, that Darryl wants it to be so much more, and White Josh is like, “Let’s just be cool about it. Let’s see where it goes.”
Honestly, [the show] is about people finding their tribe, the group of people they belong with, and being their genuine self. That’s why I think this storyline parallels Rebecca’s storyline. Darryl does it a little bit faster. He doesn’t think it all through, he just barrels ahead. She’s a little more manipulative in trying to get what she wants, but I think they’re both on the same path of finding out who they are and what their genuine wants and needs are.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.