Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s ambitions continue to grow on a weekly basis, spreading to the other characters of its world in “Josh and I Are Good People!” Though the humor of the hour is a lot broader than previous episodes, there’s no denying how much textureÂ Crazy Ex-GirlfriendÂ adds to every regular character and setting, bringing West Covina to life with illegal Canadian immigrants, Pastor Brah (Rene Gube!), and Paula’s tampon-obsessed case assistant (Stephanie Weir!). The musical numbers and story may notÂ amaze or inspire, but “Josh and I Are Good People!” is solid television nonetheless, a sold hour of world-building that is able to work without marginalizing its main characters or their immediate conflicts.
“Good People!” is arguably the most ambitious script of the show yet, in how it isolates, and then challenges, its main characters in new (and almost universally hilarious) ways. While Paula’s fighting off jerks and lazy people in the office, Rebecca’s unearthing some of her deep-seeded emotional issues through her boss’s custody battle, and Josh is getting spiritual in order to understand his attraction to Rebecca. Characters are being forced to look within and challenge their preconceived notions of selfÂ all through “Josh and I Are Good People!” Like the previous episode exploring whether people can consciously make good decisions, “Good People!” is exploring whether our inherent flaws make it incapable of us being geniunely “good” people.
The affirmations this episode ultimately makes are a little simplistic – and frustratingly, overexplained by Rachel and Josh – but there’s no doubting the effectiveness of these moments in challenging (and thus, building layers) all of its existing characters. Even something as small as Paula asserting herself around the office has meaning: it’s a wonderful representation of Rebecca and her boss trying to get a hold of their own situations, overcompensating to hide their most embarrassing, fundamental flaws, instead opting to seek out balance in their lives, rather than live mired in the existential conflicts arising from their immediate conflicts (like Darryl’s custody battle, which forces him to contemplate his nature as a father, to absolutely hilarious effect).
And underneath all of this comes some actual movement in its story: “Good People!” operates to both hold Rebecca accountable for what she did last week, while also setting up the arc between her, Josh, and Greg, that I would imagine will form the basis of their interactions for the rest of the season. Again, I continue to really enjoy the balance between progressive and judgmental in their stories: while Greg harbors resentment towardsÂ both Josh and Rebecca for their behavior, “Good People!” is more than willing to acknowledge the source of these problems very much being Rebecca’s bulldozer personality and questionable decision-making, and also recognizing the conflict is exacerbated by the behavior of others around her. If Greg hadn’t reacted so harshly (and honestly, appropriately) when he confronted her about their date, Rebecca’s overcompensation would have nothing to ground itself in, and feel cartoonish. Instead, their conflict comes as a major reflective moment forÂ bothÂ characters, Josh coming to terms with the nature of his own reaction to her admittedly awful behavior after their date. As awesome as Rebecca can be, a lot of what she does is self-serving – and it’s nice to see Greg call that out (as well as Josh’s increasingly uncomfortable friendship with Rebecca), while still being held in the same moral regard as they are, eliminating any sense of moral high ground in the situation.
I harp again and again about this balance, but it’s essential to maintaining the quality ofÂ Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: it’s why sequences where a singing Rebecca swings a knife at people can work both as comedic devices and powerful visualizations of a character’s mindset, and what keeps characters like Paula from simply being grating presences existing alongside Rebecca’s own flawed personality (which seems ready to go off the deep end, now that she knows Josh is “extremely” attracted to her).Â With such an understanding of how closely related our most awesome and terrible qualities are, “Josh and I Are Good People!” is a perfect showcase forÂ Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s nuanced portrayals of characters, extending the courtesy to the fringes of its cast (even Mrs. Hernandez!) in an episode that may not be the show’s funniest or tightest to date, but certainly displays the show’s versatility, both in its humor and how it approaches stories for each the unique individuals in its ensemble.
[Photo credit: Greg Gayne/The CW]