“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” introduced itself as little more than a slightly off-putting romantic comedy, and although Season 1’s catchy theme song claimed it’s “more nuanced than that,” few episodes passed the Bechdel Test. The show’s laser focus remained on the impossibly energetic Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), and her tendency to get lost in choreographing elaborate mental musical numbers when trying to sort out her emotions.
While her questionable actions came off as mostly plucky and paved with good intentions, it was revealed Rachel suffered with mental health problems: Her situation was definitely more nuanced than it appeared. There was a pathos to her self-image and behavior; her narcissism and obsession with soaking up attention as the star of her own self-created love triangle mess.
It was questionable how or if it was possible “Crazy Ex” could continue the Greg (Santino Fontana) and Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III) saga without it becoming a repetitive drag, but there was never anything to fear. The writers have quashed it entirely, and the show is finally becoming the beacon of feminist light we always thought it would be.
Journeying to this pivotal point has been well worth it. Four episodes into Season 2, the Golden Globe winning series has song-and-danced its way into totally new territory, saving itself from the awkward sophomore slump.
Much of these accolades are due to the breakout story that centers around Paula (Donna Lynn Champlin). At first little more than an overenthusiastic best friend, Paula eventually became the moral compass of the show. And now, Paula, fully committed to putting her own needs first, not just in regards to her unhealthy relationship with Rebecca, but in her life and career, has become the most interesting character on the show.
The CW series has doubled down with the unflinching decision to give Paula, a mostly happy wife, mother of two, the option of an abortion, to pursue her dream of becoming a lawyer. This was not, by any means, an easy choice. Paula waffled back and forth as long as she could. But in the end, she made the decision that she felt was best for her family, and for herself.
While there will definitely be emotional repercussions to tend with, for Paula’s storylines are always grounded in realness — perfectly juxtaposed against Rebecca’s sometimes imaginary and self-inflicted problems — and now Paula’s new lease on life brings with it that same comforting, grounded realness.
And while Paula has resigned to the fact that she can’t save Rebecca, she’s not abandoning her either. Nor is Heather (Vella Novell), who — along with the surprise return of Valencia — brings all the women of “Crazy Ex” front and center… And their conversations are about stuff besides snatching up a man.
Not that Josh and Greg are boring, or that Rebecca’s obsession with her love life needed to be minimized, but getting into the nuances of why she flew across the country on a whim, why she could care less about a job she excels at, yet will take the time to create a detailed plan for a mere glimpse of attention for her crush — it’s just the deeper, more complex story we’ve always wanted from these characters.
Viewers are about to see a whole new side of Valencia (Gabrielle Ruiz), too. What do we actually know about her, other than that she used to avoid carbs and that she wasn’t the right match for Josh? Heather’s growing bolder and more impassioned about life, and Rebecca is finally going to dive into some much needed deep soul searching.
And as for Paula? Honestly, anything that brings more Paula to the forefront is most welcome.
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” airs Friday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.