Porn and pies are all part of the plan
Where’s Rebecca Bunch?
That’s the question on everyone’s mind (and on their locally trending hashtag lists) at the top of the season 3 premiere of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend during a colonial-themed opening number.
But the song — catchy as nearly everything Crazy Ex does — also asked a second deeper, more important question in its sing-song lyrics: Where’s a woman’s pride without her man? Rebecca Bunch has always had a man, either one who’s largely available (like Greg or Nathaniel) or one to seek, idealized and unreachable (namely, Josh Chan).
In case you’ve forgotten where we’ve left off: After moving to West Covina for her former camp boyfriend Josh in the show’s first episode and finally almost marrying him last season, Josh left Rebecca at the altar, sending her into a depressive spiral that revealed her underlying psychological issues and determination to exact revenge. On the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean, the audience got the full story of Robert, the Harvard professor whom Rebecca fell in love with, then got dumped by, and then burned down the house of — a sequence that subverted the seemingly benign theme song from season 2: “I’m just a girl in love / I can’t be held responsible for my actions.”
So where is Rebecca Bunch? In a hotel bed, surrounded my junk food wrappers and other tokens of misery. It’s the least sexy French depression possible. And then a switch goes off, and Rebecca moves from moping to malice, dying her hair and picking up a DVD of Fatal Attraction, playing at a version of woman who’s, if not exactly empowered, then at least better than pathetic: the woman scorned.
“My hair is dark so I look evil, but my dress is white so it’s ironic,” Rebecca says after swiveling around in a villain chair in her law office’s conference room (she invited them all on Google cal to her mystery reveal). But contrary to what the ominous build-up has led us to believe, Rebecca’s plan to exact revenge (pronounced with a French accent, even if that isn’t the French word for “revenge”) on Josh is disappointingly mild (and partially plagiarized from The Help): the ol’ try to make him eat your poop in baked goods plan. Fortunately, the girl squad of Heather, Valencia, and Paula is there to talk sense (i.e. a more vicious plan) into Rebecca. Unfortunately, the next plan Rebecca is able to come up with — staging a fake sex tape with her and a Josh-look-a-like where he says he hates Jesus) — is equally terrible for different reasons. The route then, at least for now, is patience until Rebecca comes to her senses, which gives us time to focus on the episode’s B-plots.
First up, the show’s (almost) most stable couple: Darryl and White Josh. D+WJ have been the ship I’ve been riding hard since Greg left the show — I know Nathaniel is supposed to have charmed us by now, and I like him, but he’s just not the same (Come on, Santino Fontana, what else are you doing? Come back!) Darryl, father to a young daughter and proud bisexual, is ready to start a family with White Josh and keeps hinting at adoption and turning everything White Josh says into a metaphor for childbirth. White Josh, understandably, balks slightly. He’s more interested in getting his ant-based protein bars off the ground. It’s a relatively straightforward spat between lovers: I want this, you want that; I need time, I’m impatient. (Recap continues on page 2)
The confrontation comes to its head when Darryl shows up in an anteater costume he bought, passing out already wrapped and marketed ant-bars, having taken it upon himself to hustle White Josh’s venture along himself. Rather than be flattered or impressed, or even insulted that he wasn’t included in the marketing decisions, White Josh realizes what Darryl was trying to do: hurry things up so that White Josh would be ready for a baby. The two make the mature, adult, responsible decision to go to couples therapy, and they get to the bottom of their feelings, with both acknowledging fault. It’s adorable, but not as adorable as when White Josh shows up wearing the anteater costume at Darryl’s office to show him he appreciates him. If this ship falls apart, I will riot. They are perfect and happy and slightly dumb and magical.
Things between Paula and her husband Scott, however, remain slightly more complicated: Since Scott admitted he cheated with his co-worker Tanya last season, Paula has since let him back into their home, but she hasn’t forgiven him yet, even if he is dutifully filling out the sign-in book and passing the lie-detector tests she’s set for him. But forgiveness and trust isn’t a thing that you can logic yourself into: Even though Scott is jumping through the hoops Paula set for him eagerly and willingly, it’s obvious those are just small, arbitrary markers on a much longer road. That underlying disconnect emerges when Scott is finally allowed back into bed and, mid-coitus, Paula asks him to call her “Tanya.” Thank goodness psychology student Heather is on hand to try to explain what that means.
Back in Revengeland, Rebecca sends out a casting call for a Josh look-a-like and is holding auditions at her apartment, with her group of female friends still around her, humoring her but suddenly realizing that when Rebecca sets her mind to something, she does it, even when it’s a terrible, terrible idea. But how can you not go forward with this plan when Josh Chan’s perfect British doppelgänger (also played by Vincent Rodriguez III, flawlessly) walks into the room?
When Nathaniel shows up, pulling the whole “my phone died when I was on a run” routine, Rebecca shows him the steely indifference that’s like a flirting superpower: it makes him want her so, so much more. But this is new, dark-haired Rebecca, not “Oh My God I Think I Like You” Rebecca. This Rebecca can seduce and engage in repartee and never be at risk of catching feelings. Her full attention is on a terrible fake porno idea that becomes a real porno idea because if they’re going to pretend to have sex, they might as well actually have sex, right? It’s only when she’s fully naked, about to shoot the scene that Rebecca finally comes to her senses, and the weight of Josh’s abandonment — and the inanity of her plan — finally hits her.
Sometimes the best plan involves drinking way too much wine and complaining with your female friends about men…just, men in general. That’s the premise behind the glorious, Pointers-Sisters-style power jam: “Let’s Generalize About Men,” which acknowledges that of course Hashtag Not All Men are murderers, monsters and rapists, but sometimes catharsis requires a little generalizing. The song’s appearance could not have been timed better to the news cycle if it had been planned. And so, drunk and drunk on anger towards the male sex, Valencia suggests that they could sue Josh, and the idea quickly snowballs in support (even if everyone thinks it was Paula’s idea. “Am I dead?” Valencia asks, wide-eyed). Rebecca doesn’t quite seem on board yet, but at least she’s no longer determined to make the fake-real porno.
She’s still going to send him that poop though. Her hair might have changed, but this is still everyone’s favorite crazy ex-girlfriend.