Top 10 Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Episodes

So, this February the final season of Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is going to wrap up. Having been with this show since the very beginning, I thought a retrospective was in order to honor the beautiful mess that is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

For the purposes of brevity, we’re sticking to seasons one through three. As it’s still airing I have not had time to properly rewatch all of season four and come up with an annotated bibliography for my favorite episodes – though I have to say “I Can Work With You” and “I Need Some Balance” would definitely be on here if this was a top 20 list and included season four. Without further ado, my top ten Crazy Ex-Girlfriend episodes.

10) Can Josh Take a Leap of Faith?

All images as seen on the CW. 

As Paula sings in this episode’s “What A Rush To Be A Bride” – “Why veer from a classic?” This is one of the most narratively important episodes in the show, and watching it again, having gone up and down the Crazy-Ex rollercoaster, is definitely a different experience than watching it for the first time because you spot narrative beats that come to define the show later – Nathaniel showing kindness and humanity towards Rebecca, Heather and Hector’s first interaction, Trent being used as a deus ex machine figure. I have to say, though, the Trent thing was old in this episode and didn’t get any fresher when it was used again. But still, the sheer sadness of “Rebecca’s Reprise,” the introduction of Rebecca’s father, and the subsequent emotional fallout was done so well. Paula’s declaration to Rebecca that it’s not her fault that all the men in her life leave her still makes me tear up.

Best lines:

JOSH: So God is okay with you wearing that shirt?

FATHER BRAH: Oh, yeah, dude. God gave me this shirt when I joined the seminary.

JOSH: That's dope. Being a priest is dope. You know, I've always thought it was so cool how you made the ultimate commitment and married Jesus. Hey. Did you worry before you did that? Um, did Jesus ever give you any reason to, like, have doubts? 

 

PAULA: Hey, cookie, I just, um... I mean, I know you're really excited that your dad's here, uh, but I just want to make sure that you don't, like, expect him to, all of a sudden, be, like, a totally different person. Because I had this bookmark once, and it said the best predictor of the future is the past...

REBECCA: Hey. Thank you so much for telling me that, 'cause I always... I-I value your opinion, and I cherish our friendship more than anything, but, um... you're so wrong. Like, you're just... you're, you're wrong.

 

9)  Getting Over Jeff

You will notice that this is the only episode from season three on here. No hate towards Bloom and McKenna, because even though I didn’t like three as much as one and two, it was still acerbically written and fantastically acted. And “Getting Over Jeff” is incredible. A really underappreciated part of the show is the relationship between Paula and Scott, and how it demonstrates forgiveness and growth in a partnership. The end of this episode just makes my heart feel warm and fuzzy, and a change of scene was really interesting. The B-plot about Josh is sort of boring and Nathaniel is not really compelling as a love interest at this point, but Paula and Scott make up for it. Also “Very First Penis I Saw,” is probably my favorite song from season three.

Best lines:

PAULA’S DAD: Hey, isn't that the girl your mother told me about? She, uh, kind of sucks at killing herself?

PAULA: Dad!

PAULA’S DAD: Hey, I know this guy from my old precinct in Brooklyn, he tried to shoot himself in his foot to get workers' comp. Blew off his willie. You're like that guy.

PAULA: Oh, my God, Rebecca, I am so sorry.

REBECCA: No, no, no. It-It's okay. Wait, wait, so the guy just blew off the willie? Not the entire package? So that means he just missed out on becoming, like, a great soprano? - By a hair.

 

PAULA: If I could go through a magical stone wall and pick any man in any time period in any universe I would pick Brad Pitt in Thelma & Louise.

SCOTT: Strong choice. Me same.

PAULA: And when he turned me down, I'd pick you.

SCOTT: Really?

PAULA: Yeah. Every day of the week.

SCOTT: Right back at you.

 

8) Who Is Josh’s Soup Fairy? 

One of the best storylines in season two was Josh’s short-lived relationship with Anna. Since Crazy Ex has a comparatively small cast, any time a new character shows up it’s like dropping a rock on a clear pond – it has ripples everywhere. In this case Anna brings Rebecca and Valencia together, gives us valuable insight into Josh’s friend group and dynamic, and is actually one of the few moments in the early Crazy Ex episodes where Josh gets some development outside of Rebecca, again, a beat we see later on. Because of Anna’s presence, we see that Josh’s appeal to women is that he’s silly and helps them loosen up, but unlike Valencia and Rebecca, Anna gets pushed too far by Josh’s lack of ambition and leaves of her own accord. I’m describing this very seriously but Josh being a mall model makes me laugh just thinking about it. Also, everything with Rebecca and Tommy is great, and Rebecca trying to be a mom…a classic.

Best lines:

JOSH: Hi, Rebecca. Uh, how have you been? Haven't seen you since...

TOMMY: She peed on your stuff.

REBECCA: Uh... yeah... um, sorry. Uh, this is, uh, Paula's son, Tommy. He's my-my ward…my protégé, my charge for the day. [Josh’s face is blank.] I'm babysitting.

JOSH: Oh, cool. 

REBECCA: Um, hey, Tommy, why don't you go get yourself some candy, my man?

TOMMY: This a $100 bill.

REBECCA: Oh, sorry. [Pulling out another $100 bill] There you go. should be enough.   

 

WHITE JOSH: [Watching Josh rip Velcro off his sleeves] Oh, God, I've left my body. I'm floating over this room right now, looking down.

 

7) Paula Needs to Get Over Josh

Of all the finales so far, the very first has to be my favorite. I took a class about film soundtrack recently and got thinking about leitmotif, and I could write a whole scholarly essay on leitmotif in Rachel Bloom’s work, but suffice it to say the buildup of using “One Indescribable Instant” and then having it diegetically worked in at the end of the episode is such a genius way to frame the whole experience of watching it. (Excuse the fancy music terms. Google is your friend.) Josh and Valencia’s breakup scene is incredibly well-written, as is the breakdown of whatever was going on with Rebecca and Greg at the end of season one. And any excuse to show the Chan family, who are always incredibly entertaining. I think this episode was when we all knew how epic the scope of this show’s greatness was. Just so good. #BringBackAuntMyrna.

Best lines:

JOSH: I thought you weren't supposed to wear white to a wedding.

VALENCIA: Technically it's ivory and Jayma's dress is Alaskan Snow. 

 

MYRNA: Now, for my song, I need to be seated exactly 20 feet away, because I have a 15-second intro.

LOURDES: Myrna, this is my daughter's wedding, not a gig at Pechanga.

MYRNA: I'm her aunt. This is my gift to her. As God gifted me with my voice. Basically, I'm giving her a gift from God.

LOURDES: She's registered. She needs dish towels.

 

6) Why Is Josh’s Ex-Girlfriend Eating Carbs?

I think if you held me at gunpoint and asked me, I would have to say Valencia is my favorite character. Gabrielle Ruiz plays her so well, the laugh lines she gets are so oddly specific, and it was such a powerful and unexpected thing to have her become a major character. Rebecca joshing (haha) her enough to get her to eventually be vulnerable and sad after their…uh…female bonding is just so well-executed. Darryl and White Josh’s plot in this episode is a lot of fun, too, and sort of sad as a foreshadowing to things to come. Paula’s subplot with Sunil is also good foreshadowing. But all in all, I am just so thankful for Valencia Perez and the moments of vulnerability we get from her here. What a queen.

Best lines:

JOSH: What's that smell? Did you pee on the equipment?

REBECCA: Yeah, we did. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, we did it to mark our independence from you.

JOSH: Whoa, that's confusing and... gross.

REBECCA: You know what's confusing and gross, Josh? The way you've treated her. I mean, she gave you the best years of her life, and look how you repaid her, by-by hooking up with another woman.

JOSH: Which was you.

VALENCIA: Exactly! You know what? Let's talk about Rebecca. Okay? She got you that Aloha job, and then you repaid her by sleeping with her, sleeping on her couch for free, and then breaking her heart.

REBECCA: Oh, my God, you did listen to me in the car.

(It was so incredibly difficult to pick a segment from the equipment-peeing scene because it’s all gold. Just watch it.)  

 

5)  I’m Back at Camp with Josh

The thing about “I’m Back at Camp with Josh” is that it makes me actually understand why Josh and Rebecca gravitate towards each other. It gives some valuable insight into Josh’s motivations for being with Rebecca, and how those are reflected in Rebecca’s attraction to him – he wants to be believed in, and at the season one stage of her life, Rebecca thrives on over-investing and trying to just believe things into existence. The gags about Blowie Point and Rebecca slowly getting more and more beleaguered throughout the episode are all incredibly well-done, too. “Put Yourself First” has some of the best lyrics of any Crazy Ex song. The critique going on in it is the kind you’d expect in a gender studies class, not a CW show.

Best lines:  

CHLOE: It's like, if you can't even type out a word, I'm not gonna take my clothes off. At least send an emoji. Like the chipmunk eating the block of cheese? I get that. I'm coming over. No questions asked.

 

KAYLA: What the hell? You're a grown-ass woman. He should have been kissing you on your mouth.

TANYA: Yeah, she's still thirsty, Josh.

REBECCA: Uh-uh, I'm not thirsty anymore, Tanya. Right now, in this moment... I feel quenched.

 

4) Is Josh Free In Two Weeks?

What makes “Put Yourself First” from the previously mentioned camp episode so great is how it identifies something incredibly specific without having to explain it outright. The same can be said of “Tell Me I’m Okay, Patrick” from the pre-finale of season two. God, that song is so sad. Rebecca’s internal collapse over the DIY wedding is so well-executed here, and what’s also there in this one is genuinely finding myself rooting for Rebecca and Josh, because Rebecca is putting so much time and energy into the wedding. Also, the scene where Paula rages at Rebecca’s mom is so great. The B-plot about Nathaniel is so lovely, and his flying Rebecca’s dad in is one of the best moments of the season. This episode has so much of the heart of the show in it, and in all of its emotional turmoil it’s endlessly rewatchable.

Best lines:

FATHER BRAH: Dude. Thanks for coming in today, man. Figured you'd be busy with, like, wedding planning, or...

JOSH: Oh. Nah, no, no. It's okay. I mean, Rebecca's handling most of it. See, one of the reasons we decided to shorten the engagement is that she's so good at wedding stuff, and loves it.

FATHER BRAH: Yeah. Josh, just make sure this wedding is happening with you, and not to you. Right? Like that time you walked around with curtain bangs for six months because Valencia thought she might want to be a hairstylist.

JOSH: Dude. Um, I'm involved with this wedding. Very involved, okay? Like, I got a ring, I proposed, I asked you to officiate, and obviously, I came up with the hashtag, #BunchOfChans.

FATHER BRAH: I mean, that's a good-ass hashtag, so you got me.

 

REBECCA: I'm just gonna have to settle for the fact Josh and I are gonna have an F-minus wedding at an A-plus venue, which means it'll be a C, which everyone knows is actually an F. 

 

3) My First Thanksgiving with Josh

Rebecca is a parent-pleaser. This is established early on in the show from her conversations with Naomi, but wow, “My First Thanksgiving with Josh” nails another incredibly specific thing from day-to-day life without explaining it too much. Jeez, how did Rachel Bloom possibly know how many East Coast girls get off on impressing their boyfriends’ (or…former camp boyfriend, I guess) families because they’re insecure about their actual relationship with their boyfriends? @ me next time, Rachel. “I Give Good Parent” is such a hilarious number, and Rebecca being trapped in the bathroom is a great gag. Santino Fontana’s performance is some of the best too, and the ending of Rebecca and Greg on the couch is so sweet. Funny and poignant and incredible.

Best lines: 

REBECCA: Oh, honey, well, look at that. You've barely eaten anything. You must be starving.

VALENCIA: Of course I'm starving. I've been starving since 1998.

REBECCA: You know what, that is the media telling you what your body should be, and it just gets my goat...

VALENCIA: Oh, cut the crap. I see what you're doing, sucking up to Josh's parents. Well, it's not gonna work. Parents may love brown-nosers, but men, like Josh, love me. You are out of your depth. You don't understand our relationship, and you don't understand Josh. We have history. We have chemistry.

REBECCA: Well, that's a lot of academic subjects.

VALENCIA: You think he's gonna find you sexy when you're spending all day shopping with his mom for visors?

 

REBECCA: 'Twas the night of the Dunster House Formal. The place? Harvard. The year? 2008. I remember it specifically because I had a Barack Obama bobble-head perched on my nightstand. And as I was being rhythmically trashed by a junior visiting from the Brown improv troupe, the bobble-head nodded up and down as if to say, "Yes, yes, you have made another terrible decision, you silly, weak woman."

 

2) That Text Was Not Meant for Josh

One of the great things about Crazy Ex is the suspension of disbelief you have to instill in order to rationalize that anyone would ever do some of the things Rebecca does. But in “That Text Was Not Meant for Josh,” Rebecca gets to do something we all have wanted to do: Physically delete a text from the phone of someone we sent something embarrassing to. But what makes this episode so great is that this over-the-top, serendipitous plot point gets followed through in a very, real human way. We get “You Stupid Bitch,” which on its own should have gotten Crazy Ex an Emmy. And in contrast to “My First Thanksgiving with Josh,” we get Greg realizing that Rebecca uses him as a rebound. Also more Paula and Scott. This episode is so physically difficult to watch sometimes, and that shows so much talent on the part of everyone involved.

Best lines:

GREG: I've been avoiding you.

REBECCA: Okay. By dating my next-door neighbor and then showing up at my door?

GREG: Heather said you had something for her?

REBECCA: Oh, yeah, uh, she's borrowing my hard drive for her coding class. I'll get it.

GREG: Good. Looks nice in here. You decorated. Some succulents, some candles, you hung the fish...

REBECCA: So, you and Heather…That's still a thang?

GREG: Yeah, it's a bit of a “thang.”

REBECCA: Good, good. I'm very glad that you found a mating partner.

GREG: Why do you care about my “mating” choices?

REBECCA: I don't. I don't care! And I think I've shown that consistently. Here you go. Here's the... here's the hard drive. Oh, and, uh, tell Heather not to open the folder that says “Taxes.” If she's looking for porn, there's a folder that says “porn.” They're the good kind, with plots. That's why the hard drive is so big. He's not listening.

(Honorable mention to the sequence where Scott and Paula verbally say all of the theme song’s lyrics in a conversation. Typing it out would not do it justice. Just watch the episode.)

 

1)  Will Scarsdale Like Josh’s Shayna Punim?

This is it. This is the perfect episode of television. There are times when I just think of this episode out of nowhere and feel happy. I used a line from this episode in a speech in front of my entire high school when I was seventeen – for those curious it was from the exchange between Rebecca and Rabbi Sherry (“This stuff, this town, these people, they’re you, and if you hate those things, it means you hate yourself.”). I think “Will Scarsdale Like Josh’s Shayna Punim?” just brings everything that makes the show good together into this supernova of heart and humor – great acting by Tovah Feldshuh, Rachel Bloom, and Vincent Rodriguez III, songwriting and performance in the klezmer-inspired “Remember That We Suffered” and the disco-inspired “We’ll Never Have Problems Again,” Patti frickin’ LuPone guest-starring, some of the best lines in the series (“I’m a man of God, but if you think you’re going to get through a weekend with a bunch of seventy-year-olds and not get called an Oriental, you’re out of your ever-loving mind” and more). “Will Scarsdale Like Josh’s Shayna Punim?” is just the gift that keeps on giving. Rewatch it if you haven’t.

Best lines:

AUDRA: Rebecca Nora Bunch.

REBECCA: Audra Esther Levine

JOSH: Joshua Felix Chan?

AUDRA: This is my husband, David.

REBECCA: Yes. Hi, we've met.

DAVID: How you doing, Rebecca?

JOSH: You guys know each other?

REBECCA: Yep. Finished quick, rotten lay.

AUDRA:  We both heard that!

JOSH: Rebecca, hey, come on. That's not nice. Nice to meet you, man. I'm Josh. And, hey, you know what they say. It's not how long you last, it's how big your penis is.

AUDRA: Well... I see you two have really been hitting the social media hard. You know you don't have to post every photo, right?

REBECCA:  So funny that you say that, because I seem to remember your engagement photos clogging up my feed for weeks. I mean, it is so crazy that a photographer happened to be there when David gave you that ring on that turn-of-the-century Ferris wheel.

AUDRA: At least I'm married and not living in California, having a nervous breakdown.

REBECCA: Oh. Right, hey, remember when I had sex with your husband? Yeah, as he finished, he called me "Mom." Have fun unpacking that. Mazel tov. 

 

Well, on that note, that about wraps it up. Cheers to an amazing show. Even as it’s ending, there’s a whole lot of re-binging in my future.