Crazy Ex Girlfriend: 4:01 I Want To Be Here
This is the beginning of the end for Crazy Ex Girlfriend. Season four of the musical comedy from the minds of Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna is set to be the final one, and will wrap up the story of Rebecca Bunch and co. It was sad news to hear that Crazy Ex Girlfriend would only return for one last season, but it also threw up a lot of questions as to what this final run would involve and where the storyline had left to go.
Season three explored Rebecca beginning to get to grips with her diagnosis of BPD, revealing the extent of her ‘crazy’ activities to her closest friends and ended with Rebecca seemingly ready to finally take responsibility for her actions by pleading guilty to Trent’s attempted murder. It felt like a revelatory ending and one which would have worked for the actual finale of the programme as a whole (if it hadn’t been such a cliffhanger) as Rebecca finally switched on to what Paula, Dr Akopian and everyone else has been saying for a very long time. She needs help, real help, and maybe owning up to her actions and facing some consequences might just work?
As it turns out, Rebecca spends a mere six weeks in jail - and it’s more of a rap on the knuckles to teach her a lesson rather than hard prison time. Season four begins right after Rebecca’s guilty plea in court, a plea which is quickly backtracked as the Judge deems it less of a plea and more of a ‘speech filled with irrelevant details that you delivered to this lady (Paula) with your back to me’. Touche. Rebecca, in her usual way of avoiding her actual issues, demands to be sent to jail to do (as she calls it) ‘penance’. It’s very in character - using the justice system as a kind of catharsis instead of actually working through her feelings about Nathaniel, Trent and herself.
In her short stay at the penitentiary, Rebecca does learn one very important thing - that she has privilege. Explored through the art of song and dance - as most integral lessons are learnt in Crazy Ex Girlfriend - ‘What’s Your Story’ is a parody of the Cell Block Tango (naturally) and features inmates from Rebecca’s prison theatre group revealing why they are in prison.
The number ties together a multitude of petty crimes, drug related arrests and responses to poverty, with Rebecca pleading with them to tell ‘their story’ but recoiling once she realises that these are real people’s lives and their stories aren’t the sexy or rage-filled crimes that will work with her routine. ‘What’s Your Story’ even works in a reference to the fact that women of colour are routinely given harsher punishments than white women who have committed the same crimes. As usual, though, Rebecca does manage to make the scene all about her and dramatises her ‘story’ as her way of justifying what’s happened to her (“I pled guilty for metaphoric symbolism”). Rat-at-ta.
Will she ever learn? Realising that she has privilege does spur Rebecca on to want to do something for those less privileged than herself - which is something that she has done before, but it’s always served a secondary purpose - like assisting an entire housing block in bringing action against their water company, just to spend time with Josh in season one. So, although it seems like she is shifting perspectives and trying to do good - it’s not unrealistic to be skeptical of this new outlook.
Nathaniel, after losing his mind at Rebecca pleading guilty, decides to do the one thing that rich, white people love doing . He signs up for a trip entitled ‘Deathwish Adventures’, an ‘intense, outdoor, survivalist excursion’. Rather than talking to Rebecca, or anyone, about his feelings - Nathaniel would rather pay £100,000 to essentially be driven to the middle of nowhere without any supplies and try to survive. It’s masculinity gone mad. Fortunately, George is on hand as the voice of reason and thankfully follows Nathaniel into the woods to keep him for doing any real harm to himself.
A secondary story-line emerges with Josh attempting to diagnose himself with a mental illness - or five. Using an incredibly unreputable website (definitely not a Buzzfeed model), Josh determines that he has several diagnoses despite clearly not exhibiting symptoms of any of them. On Heather’s advice (thank-god for Heather at all times, to be honest), Josh actually sees a therapist - hello Dr Man-Akopian.
Tying each of these story-lines together is the second musical set piece of the episode - ‘No-one Else is Singing My Song’ - the perfect illustration of just how self centered and insular our three leads currently are. Despite Nathaniel, Rebecca and Josh all having wonderful, caring and kind friends around them who are willing to put themselves out to defend them (or sleep in the woods for them), they just can’t get out of their own heads enough to see that they aren’t alone at all. It’s an indication that this series may be dealing with Rebecca, Nathaniel and Josh’s individual mental states and will be interesting to see how they interact with each other. The three of them are more similar than they know. Also, the cross split screen is just delightful.
So, in the words of Paula - ‘what’s next cookie?’ Though Nathaniel and Rebecca have reunited, it isn’t going to be sunshine and butterflies in their relationship any time soon. Hopefully things will move on in this department soon - either way - as focusing on the on-again-off-again relationship between the two feels very season three. It’s been done already (also, see Greg who everyone has forgotten about forever). It’s also obvious that Rebecca hasn’t processed a lot of the things that went on last season - she didn’t remember who Darryl’s baby was for example - so it may be that Nathaniel and Rebecca are done for now. Speaking of done already - Paula's already up to her old tricks of saving Rebecca without her knowing, so let's hope this isn't a sign that she is going back to what was an incredibly dark place for her.
Season four is 18 episodes, in comparison to the usual 13, so although Crazy Ex Girlfriend is ending, we’ve got a while until we have to say goodbye. I Want to Be Here has set the ball rolling, bring on I Am Ashamed.