Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend 1x11 "That Text Was Not Meant for Josh!" (She's So Broken Inside) [Contributor: Maddie]


“That Text Was Not Meant for Josh!”
Original Airdate: February 9, 2016

As a highly empathetic person, I am one of those people who gets secondhand embarrassment so strongly that I need to physically leave the room during a fictional character’s embarrassing moments. It’s even worse when those moments happen in real life and there’s no escape. We’ve all sent a text to the wrong person and wanted the earth to swallow us whole upon the realization. For me, my mom saw a rather inappropriate text about an actor playing a superhero meant for my best friend. Yeah. As supremely awkward as that conversation was, it was nowhere close to the mortification Rebecca feels in “That Text Was Not Meant For Josh!” when she accidentally sends a text declaring Josh’s hotness and her love for him to Josh instead of Paula. The shenanigans following the “Text-mergency” are brilliant, and the song with the same title is sheer awesomeness, but once again this show uses sitcom misadventures to tell a much more nuanced and emotional story.

After Josh catches her in his apartment, Rebecca constructs an elaborate lie to make herself seem more sympathetic than stalker-y: her apartment was broken into so she rushed over to find him. She is able to sell it, and Josh goes out of his way to comfort her and make her feel safe. It’s a lie that crosses a line, and yet it is understandable. The show makes it very clear early on in the series that Rebecca has had serious abandonment issues since her father left and the emotional abuse she has received from her mother makes her crave unconditional love like Oprah craves bread. Thus, she will go to any measures to make sure that Josh doesn’t leave her.

Does this excuse her actions? Positively not. Can you empathize with Rebecca in this scenario? Absolutely. This lie came from a very human place. She has just recently come to terms with how in love with Josh she is, but also has enough internal self-hate that she refuses to let Josh see all of her in fear that he will leave. She giggles at his jokes and tries to write off her dramatic flair as a thing of the past to please him. So Rebecca scrambles to cover up a text that would definitely create an awkward moment, but is not guaranteed to ruin her relationship with him, by crafting a lie that certainly will. The trouble is since Rebecca has been so deprived of loving relationships, she doesn’t understand how truly catastrophic even the smallest of lies can be to a relationship. Lies in a relationship are the ultimate form of self-sabotage and will simply drive away the people we so desperately want to keep close. Which is why it hurts so very much that all the sweet moments slip through Rebecca’s fingers and a betrayed and deeply hurt Josh walks out the door.

I have been in this position before, and have seen the destruction it can cause. You keep up a lie to maintain the version of yourself that you believe they love while brutally damaging the chances of that person loving the real you. The lies build on each other and create more lies, but it is necessary because you truly cannot believe that person can love someone as broken as yourself. However, you don’t know that, but it’s too late because what started out as a small lie grew to blatant deception that has become big enough to rise to the surface, hurting those you love. Such is the case for Rebecca as well. By the time Josh finds out the truth, it’s a series of lies that he cannot ignore and shatters his view of her.

While the healthy response would be introspection, honesty, and taking steps to move forward, the more common response is to dwell in one’s self-loathing and give the inner-voice that normally whispers self-hate a microphone to belt a bombastic anthem about how you’re the worst. That’s why “You Stupid Bitch” is such a heartbreaking moment but brilliant piece of writing. It puts a spotlight on just how negatively Rebecca views herself and what a depressed spiral of self-loathing sounds like. I may have written this before, but they say the best comedy requires pain and misery and I truly believe no one is capturing this on television right now quite like Rachel Bloom. I was simultaneously laughing and crying while watching this scene that manages to entertain and provide catharsis.

Rebecca’s downward spiral has not quite hit rock bottom. Greg shows up, and upon seeing a despondent Rebecca sitting in a pile of broken glass, immediately rushes in alarm to comfort her and help anyway he can. At this point, my Greg and Rebecca shipping heart is soaring before it is promptly crushed. While scenes with Josh really are sweet and warm and nice, Rebecca’s moment with Greg are electric. Santino and Rachel’s chemistry really is fantastic in this scene. You can so easily tell how Greg urgently needs to know that Rebecca is okay, and how Rebecca is able to be truly vulnerable with him and show him even the messier parts of herself. But then the shoe drops: Greg realizes that he has arrived in the wake of Josh-drama and refuses to be the consolation prize, but not without giving a glimpse of the fact that he really does care about her. More importantly, he cares enough to want to be chosen by her. While Rebecca cries out that she really needs to be with someone and not alone, he emphasizes that her wanting someone isn’t enough — she needs to want HIM.

After a couple of episodes with some lovely Josh and Rebecca moments, it just took this one scene to bring me back to the Greg and Rebecca camp. To illustrate my point, I look to the king and queen of romantic comedies, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Both films with them as the leads are rom-com classics, but one sticks with me far more than the other. Sleepless in Seattle is romantic and nice, but I also found it all flying across the country in a big gesture with sweeping music, longing stares, and little substance. Whereas in You’ve Got Mail we get the little moments that lead to truly getting to know all of a person before the big kiss in Riverside Park.  Kathleen Kelly doesn’t put on any front for Joe Fox or NY152 and vice versa, that way when he and Brinkley come strolling in, the audience actually believes that these two could legitimately work as a relationship in real life. People like to say that it’s great to have fantasy when it comes to romance, but is it? Reality is so much better than anything we can fantasize about. That’s why relationships that aren’t always nice and pretty are so dynamic to watch. Josh and Rebecca are heartwarming and enjoyable, but personally I find her and Greg the much more interesting story to tell. And unfortunately for me, the only character who knows what’s up right now is Scott.

Speaking of, the exploration of Scott and Paula’s marriage was a delightful plotline. Once they started connecting again, I adored their relationship and want more of it on my screen. Do you want to know how good it was? I am actually calling Scott by the character’s name instead of referring to him as Frank Morningside from Miss Congeniality like I have in every scene he’s been in before this episode. I loved that they bonded over Paula’s obsession with Rebecca’s love life. It is a completely cliché TV trope, but whenever you get sitcom characters actually reciting lyrics from the theme song, I am in heaven. Scott and Paula pulled it off brilliantly, and now they even beat Mr. Sheffield and Niles in The Nanny as my favorite use of said trope. It was delightful moments like these that gave depth to their relationship. These two are married but they are also best friends who truly enjoy each other’s’ company, but they had just forgotten that.

Seeing Scott and Paula’s mature relationship was a great foil to the messes that are Rebecca’s relationships. Just like it gave the show balance, it is also so important for Rebecca to see a healthy relationship that endures it ups and downs. One of the perks of having friends older than you — and at a better and more secure place in life — is that they know just what to say when you’re consumed in your own drama because they were there but figured out how to get their stuff together and get where they are now. Sure, when you’re ready, they want to commiserate with you about all the gory details of your problems; but they will also be there with a hug and sage advice when all you want to do is cry. The support from my friends/mentors has made me a better and more confident person, just as Paula provides that same comfort and healing to Rebecca.

Friends like that will help pick up the pieces, even if they kind of helped break the glass in the first place.

Stray Thoughts: 
  • The band of lawyers was comedy gold that shouldn’t be forgotten just because the back half of the episode came in like a freight train with the feels.
  • “Text-mergency” totally sounds better than “text-astrophe.”
  • But seriously, Scott and Paula on a Rebecca mission was excellent and I want more!
  • Also, more Father Brah, please.
  • "There are other ways to get out of this building, but I walked by your patio." Right in the feels, Serrano!
  • While the song may have destroyed me, I have to admit Rachel Bloom looked stunning in that evening gown for “You Stupid Bitch.”
  • As someone who has lived in the area, I still get giddy for all the exterior shots of West Covina.
Thanks for reading these reviews even when they slightly become personal therapy sessions!

1 comment:

  1. I disagree about your thought on liking the reality of Greg/Rebecca. Rebecca has treated Greg like crap and yet Greg lets her do it all the time. I don't really consider that electric but more toxic.

    Josh , on the other hand, is very kind to her and Rebecca to him. Unlike Greg, who I have only seen Rebecca be kind of friendly too as a last resort, she is always concerned to see how Josh is doing. In this episode, she didn't even remember greg and her neighbor dating even though she saw them on the bus two episodes ago.

    That could change and maybe it will but that's just one thing I wanted to expound upon. Excellent review even with our dueling opinions.