Crazy Ex Girlfriend: 4.12 I Need a Break
After four seasons of not-so-subtle hint dropping regarding Rebecca’s ideal date, Crazy Ex Girlfriend finally gets to go where it has always desired - Raging Waters. Greg may have agreed to go on a date to the water-park of dreams, but the reality is not exactly as Rebecca imagined.
Whilst Greg and Rebecca clash heads on the water slides, Paula experiences her own complications in Crazy Ex Girlfriend's latest episode, I Need a Break. Overworked and overtired, she initially mistakes her symptoms for early onset menopause (thanks Mrs Hernandez) but it later transpires that Paula has actually been having a heart attack for over a day and has ignored it to carry on working. Between Rebecca dealing with a relapse in her mental health after arguing with Greg and Paula having a heart attack, I Need a Break is a return to the heavier side of Crazy Ex Girlfriend and a step away from the light-hearted fun. That being said, Rebecca’s ‘I’m Not Sad, You’re Sad’ is a hilarious rendition of Rebecca’s defence mechanisms.
As so often happens when Rebecca’s fantasies don’t live up to the expectation (summer camp, moving to West Covina and so many more), she tends to end up spiralling. This is exactly what happens at Raging Waters. Despite Greg telling her explicitly (through song) that he hates everything but he loves her, all Rebecca can hear is that he doesn't like anything and that includes the things that she likes, and therefore he doesn't like her. It's illogical, but Rebecca has placed so much weight on their relationship that the fall-out is inevitable.
Paula and Rebecca’s converging situations end with the classic scenario of one character giving advice that they themselves should follow, to another character. In this case, Rebecca pleads with Paula to take better care of herself and to follow her doctor's instructions - advice that, mere moments before, Rebecca had neglected to take on-board. However, the irony is not lost on Rebecca and in the final scene, she does two things that show she really is going to follow Doctor Shin’s advice. First she tells Greg that she needs a time out from their relationship, if only for a short while. This is not classic Rebecca (the woman who pursues relationships quickly and scarily when she is infatuated with someone), rather it’s someone who is very deliberately putting their own mental health over their love life.
Secondly, Rebecca takes her medication. This is a huge turning point for Rebecca and Crazy Ex Girlfriend. The show has continually explored the stigma behind medication - in particular medication designed for depression - and Rebecca has been hugely affected by the idea that meds will make her into a zombie. She recalls a time in university to Dr Akopian where her medications numbed her completely, reducing her to a shell of a person. This has clearly done lasting damage, alongside the societal stigma that medication stops you from being the vibrant, creative person that you are inside.
This situation is handled carefully and sensitively, which is probably in part due to Bloom’s own experiences with antidepressants and her preconceived ideas about how they would change her as a person (they didn’t). Throughout Crazy Ex Girlfriend’s entire run, it’s always been clear that Bloom and Brosh-McKenna (along with the other writers) have an acute understanding of the illnesses, conditions and stigmas that they are exploring - which is why their show has an edge about mental health that others simply don’t.
Though it was kind of amusing to see Rebecca going back to her old ways (spiralling out, making ridiculous decision, attempting to sleep with Josh via back massage), the show has moved on and so have we. It’s not a thrilling ride to see what hijinx Rebecca will get up to next anymore, it’s detrimental to her recovery. Instead, we are willing her to heed Dr Akopian and Dr Shin’s advice and please, please go back to therapy.
I Need a Break
is packed full of new songs - Greg's 'I Hate Everything But You', 'I'm Not Sad, You're Sad' and 'The Darkness'. Skylar Austin has his first solo musical number in 'I Hate Everything...' which fully cements his ability to play brooding, grumpy Greg. There are elements of 'I Could If I Wanted To' with the his self hate for not enjoying certain things, but this is laced with self righteousness too. It's very Greg. Rebecca does a sharp pivot from the angsty 'I'm Not Sad, You're Sad' to 'The Darkness'. We know that Rebecca deals with her emotions through music, so it makes a lot of sense that this episode has more musical numbers than the last two episodes combined. Bloom is great throughout I Need a Break, but never better than singing 'The Darkness' - Tyler has a lot to answer for.
With Rebecca’s relapse and Paula’s heart attack, I Need a Break is all about knowing when to stop and knowing when to push on. Rebecca needed to carry on with the difficult therapy and accept that she needs to try even though it’s really hard. Paula, on the other hand, needed to stop - something that Paula has never been great at doing. Between raising her children, studying for the bar, working a full time job and looking after Rebecca, Paula has never given herself time to look after herself. Though Rebecca is right about salad (it is just a few letters away from Satan), this is a turning point for Paula as much as it is for Rebecca. Taking a break is just as important as keeping going.