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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - I'm Going to the Beach With Josh and His Friends! - Review + Poll: "Who Pole Dances for Male Attention?"

I'll be the first to admit that I have been beyond frustrated with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, not because it's not good, probably because it's too good. Too good at what though? Disturbingly zany and quirky comedy, or sticking to the premise the title suggests and not budging from it? For me it was the latter. I spent so much time in the first batch of episodes rooting against Rebecca, simply because I wanted nothing more than for her to seek help. It made even the best moments of the show feel icky as each episode the denial in Rebecca grew stronger. She refused to admit that there was something deeply broken inside of her and that wasn't funny, but sad. It wasn't until the stellar I'm Happy that Josh Is So Happy episode, that I truly started to feel the layers coming off of Rebecca in a somewhat realistic way. While the followup episode with her mother wasn't the series best, I was still able to really enjoy it and I was excited to see what the next installment brought. Which brings me to the midseason premiere, I'm Going to the Beach With Josh and His Friends, an episode that did not disappoint. It seems like the show took the break to really find itself and kind of address head on one of the major issues. I was a bit sketchy going in and knowing this would be a bottle episode, but man was it so good. Not only did it pay off as cathartic for Rebecca, but it felt like a catharsis for me as a viewer as well. We not only had Rebecca finally admitting her truths, but we fianlly had reason to root for her and Josh. This episode and the aforementioned episode 7 are reasons why people should be watching and why Rachel bloom deserved her two(!) wins.

The premiere picks up with Rebecca watching what sounds like the CEG movie-version of Red Band Society(R.I.P) at the theatre alone, which lead us to a brief reprise of the "I have friends" but with more sadness attached. It turns out that Josh and his friends had also just watched the same movie and Rebecca lurks in the shadows listening to them and wishing to be with them. The gang discuss their annual crew beach day and Greg brings up bringing a date, and Josh shoots him down because it would be against the rules which was a great foreshadow to the events to come. After being seen lurking, josh invites Rebecca over to them. Valencia objects because she finds Rebecca too creepy and wonders aloud why she even moved to West Covina in the first place. Rebecca heads over to the gang, much to Valencia's dismay. (Valencia is tired of Rebecca getting a free pass for all her crazy and you can see the wheels turning in her brain as she invites Rebecca to go with them for beach day right after she sees the way Rebecca lights up when Josh gets the popcorn out of her hair and honestly who can blame her, Rebecca has gotten away with far too much). The gang is all a bit skeptical of Valencia's sudden change of heart and wanting to include Rebecca in their annual beach day and I'm not sure anyone is buying what Valencia is selling as her defense, but they go along with it. (I was iffy on Women Gotta Stick Together at first, but I came around)

Rebecca of course begins to overanalyze what exactly she needs to do to wow the friend group on the beach trip to a not amused Paula(Who is easily my favorite character in the show. Followed closely by Karen, who was not seen this week, sad face). Paula has had enough of Rebecca's insanity, and tells Rebecca this is obviously a trap by Valencia and that Rebecca doesn't even care about the friend group this is all about Josh anyway, so why go? Rebecca of course tries to deny it, and Paula tells her this will be another one of Rebecca's disasters. Paula then calls her out that all of these disasters come about because of Rebecca's denial over Josh. This little tidbit of dialogue was so needed because it fianlly at long last acknowledged one of the big problems of the show; the fact the supporting characters have seemed entirely too appropriating of Rebecca's odd and self destructive behaviour. Paula is probably the second most fleshed out character but even she went too long without calling Rebecca out on her misery, so it was a big relief to have this plot of Paula refusing to talk to Rebecca again until she admits she loves Josh. (Paula, you da real MVP) After rejecting Darryl's attempt to join her beach trip, Rebecca then steals his suggestion to win over the group, a party bus. The trip takes off and it's as awkward as you'd expect with beatboxing and small talk and the reveal that Heather and Greg are now a thing all while stuck in a traffic jam caused by Darryl. Rebecca, in fear of being the odd man out, brings Darryl on board except that backfires when Darryl is more interested in hanging with White Josh than being her bus buddy. All of a sudden things get really awkward as Rebecca takes to the stripper pole and performs a routine in an attempt to get Josh's attention and the only one seemingly into it is Rebecca herself. Rebecca of course denies Valencia's accusation that Rebecca did the routine to get Josh's attention which lead to one of my favorite lines. "Who pole dances for male attention?"

That's when the episode really gets rolling. Rebecca tries to call Paula to convince her to come and get her to save her from the awkward mess she's in, but Paula just hangs up. Again, this was needed, because Rebecca has to stop being coddled and own up to the consequences she makes for herself. I would argue that being trapped on this bus and confined in such a small space Rebecca has no way to escape the harsh reality that awaits her, which is what she needed. Though watching it all come to fruition was a bit hard for me, because whether I want to or not I care for Rebecca and I knew this would end bad. The harsh truth is for Rebecca is, these people are not her friends, and she really is alone even when surrounded by these people. With Valencia maliciously rubbing her and Josh's displays of affection in her face coupled with the crushing anxiety of just wanting to fit in but being left out, you can see Rebecca start to crack and understand why she'd want to leave with her safety net Paula and not face what was happening. I'm glad she didn't leave though because it allowed for us to really see something different from the show, no more sweeping the consequences under the rug. Not only was Rebecca facing her truths some good development but we got to learn a bit more about Josh and Greg's friendship in the process when things come to a boiling point between the two of them after the hook-up with Rebecca is made known to Josh when Rebecca defends her not being into Josh to Valencia. We see some issues between the guys come to light and they are given the chance to get it off their chest, though I don't think it was resolved as much as I would like, it was more so eclipsed by Rebecca's reveal and they just moved on for now. I liked how the confinement of this bottle episode allowed for the characters to each kind of get a light to shine, including White Josh and Darryl, who bond over gym talk.

When Valencia points out the real issue between Josh and Greg is Rebecca and then prompts Rebecca to reveal why she is really in West Covina is when the real meat of the episode is given. Rebecca tries to say it was about the job offer from Darryl, but Darryl reveals that Rebecca called him for the job(Girl, you can't tell that lie with him right in front of you, you are lawyer, you are supposed to think quick on your feet). Finally Rebecca gets real, or as real as she can get, and admits to moving to West Covina because she was so unhappy in New York and when she heard Josh talk about how happy he was in West Covina when she ran into him she knew she had to be there. Rebecca knew in that moment she needed to be in that magical place where happiness was. She admitted to being in love with... West Covina. She states she kept it from them because she knew just how crazy it sounded and she didn't want to put them off when she longed so dearly to be friends with them. She looks around hoping for some understanding and is met with mixed reactions. Again, something that was necessary for Rebecca to actually grow.
The best thing to come from Rebecca's reveal though was that Josh didn't think Rebecca was insane. Josh understood Rebecca's tale of being unhappy in New York and loves that he was the one who convinced her to come to West Covina. And just like that, we finally got a real reason to root for Rebecca and Josh, they compliment each other in ways that make them feel like better people. Josh doesn't think too highly of himself but the fact that a girl like Rebecca listened to him made him feel so proud and made him open up to Rebecca, and Rebecca finally heard Josh tell her something she's longed to hear which was that she did the right thing by moving to California. She realizes how nice and kind and warm Josh is, and that she does love him. She loves not just what Josh represents, but she actually loves Josh. So I can't help but smile when Rebecca admits out loud to Paula, who is waiting for her as she gets off the bus, that she just loves Josh so much that for once I'm not thinking Rebecca needs help, I'm thinking Rebecca needs love and I want it for her.Now whether that is with Josh or Greg is a whole different story.

Final Thoughts: After watching this episode, I can't help but feel a bit sad that there are viewers out there who have never given this show a chance. It's one of the best shows on the air right now and while it has moments where it has been weak, I say really look at episodes 7-9 as turning points for the series and a true showing of just how strong the writing team and cast are. They have taken a character who was bit too cartoonish and slowly pulled back the layers to reveal the humanistic longing and anxiety at her core, while taking two one-sided romances and turning them into something more complex. Before this week I was all aboard the Greg train to happy-town for Rebecca, but now I see something between her and Josh, I see what she sees in Josh. Was this the show's funniest hour? Not particularly, but it was one of the more realistic and engaging ones. I found myself unable to look away no matter how awkward I felt for Rebecca. If this week's episode is an example of what the second half of the season has in store, I am so ready. I know the show didn't get any awards bump in viewers, and I'm not sure it will. My opinion still remains though, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is probably one of the best comedies on the air right now as it slowly but surely fine tunes and finds itself. Each passing episode drives this wish that this fictional town was real and makes me want to move to West Covina, California.

Grading the Musical Numbers:
"Women Gotta Stick Together"-B (Started out a bit wonky for me but got better as it went on, and then it just kinda went on....)

"West Covina, Reprise"-A (I couldn't look away from the adorableness)

So what did you think of the episode? Are you glad to see Rebecca finally get called out on her denial? Sound off below and vote in this poll!

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I'm Back At Camp With Josh! airs Monday 02/01 on the CW!
About the Author - Winston Mize
Winston is a 25 year old goofball, born in the north, and currently living in the south. He loves TV.... for some it's coffee, for him it's TV talk that gets his day going. He wants to be a screenwriter, and watches some of everything. You name it, he's probably checked it out. And he would like you to know that it is okay for a 25 year old to play with action figures... well, he does anyway. He's semi-active on twitter (so do him a favor and help him get 500 followers) and has quite a lot of nothing to say. Get to know him and learn he is just randomness personified. You can check him out with previews/reviews of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and iZombie this fall.
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