Thursday, July 18, 2024

Welcome to West Covina, California! Crazy Ex Girlfriend Season 1

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Season 1 of The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend grabs the audience right with the pilot, giving us a strong idea of what to expect in upcoming episodes: snarky humor, smart humor, gotta-rewatch-that scenes, and of course, musical numbers. A lot of original music is laced within each episode, giving this show its unique flavor that helps it stand out from other comedies on television. I’d heard nothing but rave reviews about this show, so when I finally bit the bullet and binged the entire first season in two days, I deemed it time well spent. This is one of the funniest, most heartfelt, most enjoyable shows that I’ve had the pleasure of watching. But enough of me rambling. I’ll give you an overview of the season, some key moments, and of course, we’ll talk about my favorite songs of the season.

Rebecca Bunch, hot shot lawyer in the Big Apple, seems to be doing well in life. She has a well-paying job that she excels at, she’s living on her own and is (kind of) out from under her obnoxious mother’s thumb, and she seems to have it all under control. She’s about to be promoted at work, and it suddenly hits her that maybe this career path her mother set for her isn’t what she really wants out of life. One night while lounging on the couch at home, she sees an oddly…personal…ad for butter; “When is the last time you were truly happy?” is what it says. She tries to brush it off, but the ad pops up on a magazine she sees at work, then again on a billboard outside of her office while she has a minor panic attack.

Just as she gets her breathing back to normal, she follows the light glowing from the billboard down to the street, and sees Josh Chan. The boy she was in love with for a summer at drama camp, who broke her heart and never kept in touch with her. He’s just as handsome and charming as he was when they had their fling ten years ago, and she finds it very odd that suddenly he’s in New York City when he was born and raised in California. Rebecca remembers all the intense, teenage-hormone fueled feelings she had for Josh when he abruptly dumped her on the last day of summer camp, and realizes that she’s not as happy as she wants to be. As she’s offered the job of junior partner at her law firm, she feels the sudden inspiration to drop everything and move to West Covina, California, Josh’s quiet hometown.

I can’t believe it’s not an existential crisis!

There’s something a little off with Rebecca, we can see that from the getgo (she’s never taken a sick day at work, she looks haggard, and she has a panic attack out in the street that she quells with medication). But, it looks like West Covina is her ticket to joy. And Josh.

“This guy just happens to be here. Just to be clear, I didn’t move here for Josh…” Rebecca sings in “West Covina” as she gets acquainted with her new home. But of course, she doesn’t really mean that; her motive for moving to the west coast is brought up again and again by her new coworkers and acquaintances, but Rebecca maintains the fact that she just needed a change, and it’s a complete coincidence that the guy she loves lives in the same town.

Rebecca takes a job at a local law firm, only the size of a pea compared to the office she just left. But she’ll take it. Her boss is Daryl Whitefeather, 1/8 Native American and proud of it. He’s a simple man running a simple business, and wonders just why a woman with such high accolades has come to this small office. Even her new coworkers, including Paula Proctor, are immediately suspicious of Rebecca’s intentions, and grow even more curious the more she dodges the questions posed to her.

Rebecca finds herself eagerly awaiting a text from Josh, hoping they can casually meet up now that she’s in his town. She oh-so-casually follows his check-ins on Facebook to hopefully stumble into him at this local sports bar, but unfortunately she just missed him. As she continues to “casually” look for Josh, she starts talking to the bartender, Greg Serrano, who happens to be childhood friends with Josh. Greg too wonders why someone from New York would willingly come to this small town that’s hours from the beach and anywhere fun. He is interested, and invites Rebecca to his friend’s housewarming party, where Josh is supposed to be too.

At the party, Rebecca hooks up with Greg, but halfway through their makeout session, she starts to ramble about Josh. Greg is totally turned off, and tries to take the semi drunk and emotional Rebecca home. Out on the front lawn they run into Paula, who was spying on them. She dug up dirt on Rebecca’s obsession with Josh, and wanted to expose her lies; Rebecca tries to justify her actions, saying she wasn’t happy at work and running into Josh made her realize that, and that she may possibly be crazy for what she did. This realization makes Rebecca have another minor breakdown, Paula feels guilty about snooping and understands why she did what she did, and the ladies find themselves becoming friends. Paula wants Rebecca and Josh to be reunited, and wants to experience their love story secondhand.

I ship it.

From there, Rebecca and Paula are thick as thieves, trying to get Josh and Rebecca close so they can rekindle their love. They soon discover Josh does in fact have a girlfriend, Valencia, a tall and skinny and beautiful woman who Rebecca is jealous of. Rebecca is wearing homeless-chic clothing at the grocery store when she runs into Greg, then Josh and Valencia. Josh lies from the get-go, saying he and Rebecca met at a camp when they were little kids, not teenagers, so Valencia doesn’t get jealous and cause problems. The girls kind of hit it off from that first awkward meeting, but that soon changes once Valencia finds out the truth about how Rebecca and Josh met.

Slowly but surely (and with a little bit of force) Rebecca is brought into the fold, meeting the boys’ best friends, Hector and White Josh (he looks like Josh if he were white, and also his name is Josh), and trying to hang out with them in an effort to get closer to Josh. They’re suspicious and a bit wary of her too, but they try to include her without too much commotion. Rebecca, on the other hand, goes well out of her way to try and include herself, and with a bit of cajoling from Paula, she invites Josh and co. (plus anyone else she can think of) to a housewarming party. Paula does most of the planning, and uses her new friendship with Rebecca as an excuse to get out of her house and away from screaming, bratty kids, and a husband who doesn’t pay much attention to her interests. Daryl shows up, as well as a few odd people around town, but none of her friends and no Josh. Eventually, Greg shows up to support Rebecca, but as usual, she’s still hyper fixated on Josh and doesn’t recognize Greg’s efforts to be closer to her; this is especially true when Josh finally shows up at the party! Huzzah! He tells Rebecca how much he admires her being confident and throwing the party, and that she’s inspired him to stand up to Valencia sometimes.

Things get complicated from there, with Josh and Valencia and Rebecca and Greg. It’s like a messy love parallelogram. Rebecca is head over heels for Josh, Greg is really into Rebecca, and Rebecca really likes Greg, and Valencia is very possessive over Josh…

By episode 4, “I’m Going on a Date With Josh’s Friend!,” those who are team Greg/Rebecca finally get a little push, with one of the season’s best songs, “Settle For Me,” where he tries to convince her that the two of them will make a great pair, even if they are just settling for each other instead of going after their dream date. They agree to go to a food festival in town, and things go fairly swimmingly on their date, until…

For once, it’s not Josh that makes Rebecca question her relationship with Greg. It’s a hipster vegan chef she meets at the festival, with whom she has sex after lying to Greg about why she left him waiting outside the port-a-potties. Greg shows up to her house with food and a shoulder to lean on, until he sees why she really left him high and dry. He leaves in a huff, Rebecca is upset once again, and Josh manages to find his way back into her focus again. He needs a job, and wants to apply to the local electronics store, but can’t think of what to put on the application; Rebecca jumps at the opportunity to help, of course, but ends up costing him the job with her overly analytical personal essay that didn’t have anything to do with electronics. And of course, when Josh tells her about losing out on his dream job, Rebecca heads right for the store to speak with the hiring manager and convince him to hire Josh after all (which, he does). Once again, Josh and Rebecca are brought together by her need to nudge into everyone else’s personal business.

But, that nudging works out; Josh admits that he is “very attracted” to Rebecca, which gives her hope that they may actually become A Thing. When Thanksgiving rolls around, Rebecca makes it her mission to get invited to the Chan family get-together, which does happen after she “accidentally” runs into Josh’s mom at the grocery store. This leads to one of my favorite songs of the season, “I Give Good Parent,” where Rebecca manages to impress all of Josh’s family, while Valencia struggles to even get a smile out of anyone there. It goes well for a while, until the food makes Rebecca sick and she rushes for the bathroom. She’s trapped in there, having to listen to Josh and Valencia argue then quickly make up (while she is still trying to hold it in). A few toots still don’t relieve her, so she rushes out and tries to go home, but she’s stopped with a surprise proposal. No, it’s not That Kind, thankfully; it’s just Josh asking Valencia to move in with him, which still yields some pained “NO’s!” from the family. Rebecca goes home to relish in her pain (both bodily and emotionally), only to be joined by an equally emotional Greg who just wants to take his mind off his sick father and his failing career choice. It’s a sweet moment, the two of them snuggled on the couch talking about food and pooping, but it still does not get Rebecca’s mind off of Josh.

By episode 9, “I’m Going to the Beach With Josh and His Friends!,” the mystery of Rebecca Bunch and why she suddenly moved to West Covina comes to a head. She nudges her way into the group’s plans to have a small getaway to the beach, and even one-ups their roadtrip plans by getting a party bus (which includes several couches and a stripper pole). So there’s Josh and Valencia, Greg and Heather (Rebecca’s neighbor, who she’s acquaintances with, and who has also been secretly dating Greg for months), White Josh, and a hitch-hiking Daryl who gets picked up along the way. Rebecca is the odd one out, and tries to make herself the center of attention since she’s the one who arranged for the party bus in the first place; her genius idea involves the stripper pole and giving everyone a good show. This episode has one of my favorite exchanges of the series:

Valencia: There’s only one reason she did that.
Rebecca: Yeah! To get the party started for my crew!
Valencia: By showing my boyfriend your cervix?

So, of course, this turns all of the attention onto Rebecca, put not in the positive way she had hoped for. Instead, it starts Valencia on a tirade about how sketchy it is that Rebecca left her so-called luxurious life in New York City for West Covina, and how she is just conveniently in Josh’s personal orbit at all times. Rebecca tries to change the line of questioning and says that she hasn’t been focused on Josh the entire time, because she briefly dated Greg, which, is news to everyone on the bus. It starts a fight between Greg and Josh, which gets on Heather’s nerves, and soon enough, everyone on the bus is having a crisis.

Valencia finally point blank asks if Becca moved to West Covina to be with Josh. She tells the story of how she got the job at Daryl’s law firm, and followed Josh here because he seemed so happy and she wanted some of that joy. Valencia doesn’t believe that of course, but Josh does, and he privately tells Rebecca that he’s glad she is trying to get better. It puts them in a much better place than they were when the party bus arrived, which is what Rebecca wanted.

In episode 10, “I’m Back at Camp With Josh!” Rebecca volunteers at a youth camp with Josh to get closer to him, and hopefully try to rekindle some old feelings at the place where they first met. Josh is typical Josh though, frat boy who impresses all the kids and doesn’t think that Rebecca is doing anything but helping the kids out. After being bullied by a group of teenage girls, Rebecca digs up her old love letter that she never sent to Josh at the end of camp, and reads it to him. He thinks it’s cute, and that those were silly hormone-fueled teenage feelings; she’s crushed by him saying this, of course, and plays it off like she was just showing him how corny it was (and that she TOTALLY doesn’t still feel that way about him!). The girls who had bullied Rebecca earlier in the week see her crying and vulnerable after this talk with Josh, and help give her the confidence to suck it up and move on. The effect doesn’t last long, but at least they tried. And now Josh knows that Rebecca has more than just friendly feelings for him.

Awkward teen Rebecca pls

Things don’t get any better after that unfortunately, with Rebecca accidentally sending Josh a text he wasn’t meant to see, then breaking into his house to retrieve his phone and delete said message before he can see it, and ultimately coming up with a far fetched story about burglars breaking into her home and scaring her, causing her to go to his home for comfort (and his door just happened to be unlocked so she went in). The police are called and everything, and Josh is really worried about her safety until he sees that the rock the burglars used to smash their way into Rebecca’s home is actually a decorative rock from her little knick-knack corner in her living room. Josh confronts Rebecca about all of her lies and deceptions, then leaves in a huff after telling her he doesn’t want to talk to her anymore. Yikes! This scene leads to my favorite song of the season, “(You Ruined Everything) You Stupid Bitch,” where Rebecca just drags herself for messing things up.

It doesn’t last long, of course, and Josh enlists Rebecca’s help with some legal issues with his landlord. Rebecca tries to act casual around Josh, even telling him that her old boyfriend from college, Trent, is back with her and they’re happy (it’s really just some random guy she maybe had class with once in school, and is using him as a front to make Josh jealous). Turns out Valencia got wind of this Trent fellow and tracked him down on Facebook and had him show up at her apartment as a surprise for Rebecca. But the surprise actually falls to Valencia: Rebecca runs up and smooches Trent, and he smooches back. It’s convincing enough for Valencia, but it still remains a mystery just who is this Trent guy and why did he go along with this little lie (this turns out to be a big plot point in season 2 for those curious)? And outside of the little Josh-Rebecca bubble, another surprising couple has emerged: White Josh and Daryl. Turns out White Josh is gay, and Daryl finally accepts that he’s bisexual, and very very attracted to WJ. I’m rooting for these guys.

And finally. Finally. As Rebecca continues to help Josh with his legal woes, things between them come to a head. But of course, before that happens, we get another glimpse at fake-boyfriend, Trent, who has been deeply, madly in love with Rebecca since college, and he plans on making himself her real boyfriend, permanently. Yikes.

In the meantime, Rebecca and co. head to Los Angeles for the legal battle with the landlord, and how this issue has grown into a larger problem for the residents of the city. Trent hacks his way into the government system and finds out that there’s been a cover-up for the water system; he gives this information to Rebecca so she can win the case, but, if she turns this information to the judge it will get the case dismissed because of the way in which she obtained this private information. So she struggles with this issue, and as she has some alone time to think in the empty courtroom, Josh shows up with snacks and encouraging words. And FINALLY! Josh kisses Rebecca. Cue the hallelujah chorus in her head. It’s not that simple, though (of course). Greg decided to travel out to LA to tell Rebecca how he feels, and he sees the kiss; Paula continues to captain the Josh/Rebecca ship, and shoves Greg off. This episode ends on a cliffhanger, leaving us wondering if Josh and Rebecca will finally happen, or if this is just another tease.


We’re teased a little more, as Josh comes to Rebecca’s house days after the kiss, and says that he can’t stop thinking about it. She can’t either, and when he says he’s going to Hawaii to see Hector in a surfing competition, Rebecca thinks the most logical solution would be for her to fly to Hawaii as well and surprise him. But the surprise comes when all of her credit cards are declined, and in order to afford the plane tickets she ends up selling the Garfunkel ring, a family heirloom that once held a lot of significance for her. And yet another surprise piles on top of that when Rebecca goes to Josh’s apartment to talk to him and Valencia about The Kiss, but the couple are already talking about it; Josh says there’s no way he’s in love with Rebecca and that the kiss was meaningless. You can pinpoint the exact second her heart breaks in half (and mine as well). Just when we thought maybe something was gonna go right for Rebecca, it’s yanked away.

And instead of taking her flight to Hawaii, she hops on a plane and heads back to New York without telling any of her friends/coworkers. She dreams about meeting with her psychiatrist, who encourages Rebecca to dive back into some Issues from her youth (with her parents, school, self-perception and the like) and take a breather from everyone in West Covina. Rebecca’s hyper fixation on Josh isn’t healthy for her, duh, and that by focusing so much on him, she’s losing out on other opportunities for relationships (Greg, anyone?!). Rebecca wakes up from her dream session and decides to go home and fix things with her friends. She’s met with joy from everyone except Josh, who, in her absence, found a bunch of stalker-y photos she had of him; he accuses her of being crazy in love with him, and he leaves, upset. The new leaf Rebecca planned on turning has been stopped, and she falls right back into her old patterns.

As the season winds down, Rebecca is still continuously pushed together with Josh, with his sisters and mother coming to her house to invite her to be a bridesmaid at the sister’s wedding. Rebecca declines at first, so as not to cause any further issues with Valencia, but Josh’s sister just shrugs and says both the girls will be a part of the wedding, problem solved. At the wedding dress fitting, we find a disastrous series of events: the girls get a little tipsy off champagne; Valencia tries on the wedding dress and posts photos to Instagram; Josh’s sister is livid and wants to kick Valencia out of the wedding; Rebecca takes the blame and is no longer a bridesmaid. Phew. Josh comes to confront Rebecca about it later that day, and in a surprising turn of events, she kicks him out of the house! Maybe she’s made some progress after all….Or not. Because immediately after that she goes to see Greg and they end up having a roll in the hay.

After that, Greg and Rebecca spend several days in a “sex cocoon,” where she finds herself questioning her feelings for him; maybe she really really likes him after all. And after word gets out that Greg and Rebecca are messing around again, Paula’s upset (she is the captain of Team Josh, of course) and Josh is upset that this would happen after everything he and Rebecca have been through. Rebecca and Greg’s sexcapades end terribly though, with Greg giving her a UTI (another top song this season), which lands her in the hospital with a kidney infection after not taking her meds. The whole cavalry shows up: Greg, Josh and Paula, with the last two becoming very upset over this relationship revelation.

Greg pls

Finally, at the season finale, everyone’s getting ready for the Chan wedding, except for Rebecca, who’s still in the hospital. Paula comes by to berate her about sleeping with Greg; Greg comes to visit Rebecca, only to see Josh there as well with a bouquet of flowers for her. There’s turmoil in Rebecca Bunch land, and after she gets out of the hospital she confides in her neighbor/friend, Heather (I know I haven’t mentioned her much here, but she’s greatly improved as a character since her introduction, and she gets a larger role in season 2). They talk about Greg and Josh and what’s best for Rebecca. She thinks it’s time to take the last train out of Josh station and not look back, to just continue on with Greg.

The day of the wedding, Rebecca’s settled on making things work with Greg. They have the perfect romantic backdrop of the wedding, after all. So that’s a great place for her to tell him how she feels. She runs into Josh at the jewelry store beforehand, where he’s planning on buying an engagement ring for Valencia. The two of them have an awkward conversation, and realize that maybe they’re not with the right people after all, because clearly, this is some kind of sign from the universe that they’re supposed to be together.

As much as Rebecca tries to get that fairy tale moment with Greg when they get to the wedding, it’s quickly demolished when he shows up in his everyday attire of a tee shirt, jeans and old Converse, and goes on to get absolutely plastered at the open bar. The moment she was hoping for happens with Josh, actually, when he’s left breathless at the sight of Rebecca entering the reception.

The proposal Josh was planning for Valencia goes awry when he sees her conspiring with his aunt to get a family heirloom as an engagement ring and proposing herself, and Valencia goes on to accuse him of being the problem with their relationship, not the meddling Rebecca. Meanwhile, Rebecca herself is trying to tell Greg how she feels about him, but he’s too drunk and emotional to grasp what she’s saying, and he subsequently passes out. The reception goes on, Rebecca’s upset about Greg, Josh is conflicted, and the two of them meet on the dance floor. He tells Rebecca he just broke up with Valencia because he couldn’t get her out of his mind. He pulls out the sappy letter she wrote to him at camp for emphasis, and they run outside to make out and finally hook up. But during this canoodling, Rebecca hastily admits that she did, in fact, move to West Covina to be with him; he looks very startled for a moment, especially when she says it’s time for their love story to begin, and the scene fades. That’s it, cliffhanger until season 2.

It’s okay, Becks. We love you.

I found myself struggling with the Rebecca/Josh or Rebecca/Greg ship just as much as Miss Bunch herself did. In all fairness, they both have their strengths and weaknesses, bring out the best and worst in her, and neither of them really belong with her. But I seemed to switch who I was rooting for just as much as the characters did. I have a personal soft spot for Santino Fontana (who plays Greg) so I may lean a bit more towards him. But we’ll have to wait and see who Rebecca ends up with, if anyone at all!

And now, to my favorite part of the show, THE SONGS! Each episode has 1-3 original songs, each influenced by a song in particular, or just a genre of music. They’re almost spoofs, but not quite, and still enjoyable nonetheless.

First, honorable mention goes to “The Sexy Getting Ready Song” in episode 1, which gave the audience the first real taste of what music to expect through the series. It’s all about the pressures society puts on women to look hairless and made up and beautiful before going out on a date. The kicker is the rapper who shows up in the middle of the song, then halts everything once he sees just what it takes for women to prepare for their dates; he says he has “some bitches to apologize to,” which we see at the very tail end of the episode as a really funny way to wrap things up.

And here, my top 5 favorite songs from the season:

5) Heavy Boobs (episode 16)

Inspired by Beyonce’s song “Diva,” this one is pure comedy. Rebecca and Valencia are jokingly trying on Josh’s sister’s wedding dress, and discussing how well Valencia can pull it off because she’s not too top-heavy. But Rebecca is very well endowed and wouldn’t be able to look as nice in the dress. Then this song is played, joking around that she can damage someone’s eyeball if her boobs ever hit them, and that she can hold a ridiculous amount of items in her ample bosom. Bonus points to her for emphatically bouncing her own boobs, because I know just how painful that can be even if done by accident.

4) Sexy French Depression (episode 7)

Rebecca laments after she hears the news that Valencia and Josh are moving in together. She mopes around, acting like she’s some sexy and troubled French girl who lays around all day smoking and drinking wine. The scene looks like a film noir, and it’s still funny while being quite, well, depressing.

3) I Give Good Parent (episode 6)

Rebecca spends Thanksgiving with the Chan family, and she’s proud of the fact that she always wins over the parents of her significant others and friends. Plus, Mama Chan likes Rebecca WAY more than Valencia. This song is in the style of a standard Nicki Minaj song, and seeing Mama Chan with a grill and gold chains is just fantastic.

2) I Gave You a UTI (episode 17)

After Rebecca and Greg’s sex-fest, she winds up with a UTI and is prescribed medication. Greg jokes that the sex was just so good that this was the end result. This song is so catchy and I still feel deprived of more Greg songs (because I’m biased and love Santino Fontana).

1) (You Ruined Everything) You Stupid Bitch (episode 11)

Okay, so the title alone put this song in the top five, and the context in which Rebecca sings this made it my favorite song of the season. She has a one-woman show in a popular club (a la Celine Dion) and thanks the audience for coming; it’s a soaring song, worthy of a sold out crowd. Rebecca is self-deprecating and dragging herself for how badly she’s screwed things up with Josh. And I love it.

All images courtesy of The CW

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