Friday night’s episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, “To Josh, With Love,” finally introduced Season 3’s theme song, “You Do/You Don’t Want to Be Crazy,” which, unfortunately, is the show’s weakest yet. The upside is that the rest of the episode is a musical treasure trove, with four whole songs to unpack and some of the songwriters’ best wordplay to date. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
When we last saw Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III), he had abandoned Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) on their wedding day to become a priest instead. Josh was nowhere to be found in the Season 3 premiere, but “To Josh, With Love” takes us back to where we last saw him, standing in front of the church, ready to embark on a new path in life. Or is he? It quickly becomes apparent that, despite his professed interest in “that spiritual stuff,” Josh has no idea what it means to join the seminary, as we see in the decidedly sunny “I’ve Got My Head in the Clouds.”
Rodriguez makes a convincing Gene Kelly in this fun, tap-dancing number that shows off some LOL-worthy church humor (“Pew!”) while also demonstrating just how naïve Josh is: “Reality was getting so complicated/ All the drama was getting insane/ But now I’ve given my life to Mr. Jesus Christ/ So I’m speeding down the carpool lane.” He even imagines that the Holy Ghost is an actual, bedsheet-wearing ghost. (Casey Affleck, is that you under there?) Of course, Josh doesn’t really want to commit to the church, which would take years of training, education, and service. He just wants to feel absolved of the guilt he rightfully feels for leaving Rebecca without having to actually face what he did.
Speaking of Rebecca, she’s still out for revenge, but she’s also falling back into her old, self-destructive patterns. Paula’s plan to humiliate Josh by suing him is smart and relatively safe, but Rebecca craves something more devious. Since her ideas haven’t been all that great lately—her best plan so far has been to mail Josh cupcakes made out of poop—she turns to her ruthless boss Nathaniel (Scott Michael Foster), but Nathaniel is having a crisis of his own. Last season, he revealed that he has a softer, less selfish side, especially when it comes to Rebecca, who now has the upper hand by being the less-interested party. Nathaniel's supervillain-worthy plan to get his mojo back involves running a kindly Korean BBQ restaurant owner off his land.
Rebecca is attracted to this cold, uncaring version of Nathaniel, and he’s also the perfect person to help her overcome her scruples and come up with a truly evil scheme of her own. She shows up at his door to convince him to help her destroy Josh in “Strip Away My Conscience,” a sexy, Bob Fosse–style number, complete with some handsy backup dancers.
This song is a masterpiece of double entendre and innuendo. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has never been afraid to get sexual, whether it’s talking about actual sex or something else, but Rebecca pulls out all the stops to seduce Nathaniel while also encouraging him to corrupt her. “Strip away my conscience/ Tear away my Jew-guilt/ Kiss around my sense of right and wrong—but not on it, it’s sensitive,” she coos at one point. There’s even a Harry Potter reference, a callback to last season when Nathaniel reluctantly admitted he’s a huge fan.
Funnily enough, the best lyric in the song wasn’t even in the first draft, according to Bloom:
The original lyric was "Dude, I'm so wet" but that was too dirty so we changed it to "let me choke on your cocksuredness" and that was fine.— Rachel Bloom (@Racheldoesstuff) October 21, 2017
(This wouldn’t be the first time that Standards and Practices forced Crazy Ex’s writers to get creative, to a song's benefit. The censored version of “I’m So Good at Yoga” from Season 1 is so much funnier than the explicit version, because no amount of profanity could possibly outdo Gabrielle Ruiz singing “I kiss my own hoo-ha” with a straight face.)
At this point, the writers are on a roll, and the punning spills into the next song in the episode, a solo from a character who has, until now, remained largely in the background: Tim, the secretly Canadian lawyer played by Michael McMillian. Tim gets a storyline of his own when he learns about the orgasm gap from his female co-workers and figures out that his wife has probably been faking her sexual satisfaction for years, taking care of herself with an “electric toothbrush.” He grapples with his newfound knowledge in a heartfelt, vibrator-focused parody of “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” from Les Misérables.
Sure, this sounds like a stupid concept, but McMillian sells it with a performance that’s so good it almost manages to distract from the ridiculous subject matter. It’s a credit to the show as a whole that even its background characters are secretly gifted vocalists who have just been waiting for their moment to shine, and shine McMillian does, showing off surprising range and conveying genuine anguish over “tinnitus of the loins.”
The episode ends with one final number from someone who is never in the background, Rebecca, singing a reprise of “After Everything I’ve Done For You (That You Didn’t Ask For),” an old favorite from Season 1. Not to be confused with a similarly-named Taylor Swift song, this new version, “After Everything You Made Me Do (That You Didn’t Ask For),” starts off a lot like “Everything I’ve Done For You,” with an outraged woman who has been wronged in some way. In the original, that woman is Paula, who has been lied to; in the new version, it’s Rebecca, wearing a wedding dress and finally confronting Josh in a church.
The first few notes of the song should be a warning sign from the get-go, because the tune means that Rebecca, like Paula before her, is about to confess all of the manipulative things she has done, under the guise of self-righteousness: “I had to clog my garbage disposal when you ignored my calls/ I watched you have sex with Anna when I was hiding in a bathroom stall.” Yes, we’ve witnessed these events as they happened over the past two seasons, but they sound so much worse when Rebecca lists them all at once like that. Rebecca’s “craziness” is finally on full display, and while it’s cathartic in the moment, it’s definitely going to come back to haunt her.
Best Song of the Week: It was close, but “The Song for Men Who Can’t Please Women/The Buzzing From the Bathroom” beats out “Strip Away My Conscience” by a hair, thanks in part to McMillian’s perfectly timed pause in the line “Can’t believe she didn’t come … to tell me that she needed so much more than I could give.”