Happy song-iversary, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fans! The show’s latest episode, “Nathaniel Gets the Message,” marks an important milestone for the musical rom-com: its 100th song. The creators are celebrating with a new album of karaoke tracks, which is appropriate, considering the show’s 99th song was also karaoke-inspired.
Equally appropriate? That Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s big 100th musical number is an anti-love song. In “Nathaniel Gets the Message,” Rebecca, having realized that her obsession with Nathaniel is a lot like her old obsession with Josh, makes the responsible choice and breaks up with him. That leaves her with a lot of time on her hands, so her therapist makes a suggestion: If she were to invest as much energy into philanthropy as she does into her romantic relationships, she could make a real difference.
Rebecca, being Rebecca, takes that idea to the extreme with “Without Love You Can Save the World,” a Hair-inspired psychedelic rock number that features the entire main cast singing about what they could be doing instead of hooking up:
I could have used that time to cure leukemia
I could have used that time to clean the seas
I could have taught some teens awareness of bulimia
I could have saved the pandas, whales, and bees
This is the ideal No. 100 for the show, which is ironic, because without love, there would be no Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Over the past two and a half seasons, Rebecca really has poured a lot of time into her romantic life, to say nothing of money. (In this same episode, we’re reminded that Rebecca is broke because she’s spent tens of thousands of dollars on Josh.) But she’s not the only one. Joining her in song are other characters from the show’s various romantic pairings and triangles, which serves as a reminder of just how many combinations there have been—White Josh and Darryl, Heather and Hector, Josh and Rebecca, Josh and Valencia, etc. The lone exception is Paula, who appears without her husband; that’s probably not an accident, considering that Paula has sunk a lot of hours into other romances, including fictional ones, extramarital fantasies, and Rebecca’s pursuit of Josh, but we’ve never seen her nearly as invested in her actual marriage.
“Without Love” is a fun subversion of songs like “Age of Aquarius,” with the characters imagining how they could make the world a better place if only they didn’t always let their hormones take the lead. (My personal favorite: “Take the leash off your hog/ And use that leash to walk rescue dogs.”) “It’s an asexual utopia!” the entire group cheers, which is another very Rebecca conclusion to come to, since for her, love and sex are often one and the same.
Love has certainly not worked out for Nathaniel (Scott Michael Foster) or White Josh (David Hull), who are both in denial about their respective breakups. The show’s two fitness geeks bond over the shared heartbreak by working out together and then heading to a local gay bar, which is overrun with bachelorette parties and sorority scavenger hunts, to show off their bods. While there, though, they realize that no amount of weight-lifting can ease the pain and instead decide to sing it out.
The result is the magnificent “Fit Hot Guys Have Problems Too,” an instant Crazy Ex-Girlfriend classic. Given that Bloom herself is no stranger to YouTube stardom, it can’t be a coincidence that this song bears such a resemblance to the viral video, “Hot Problems,” so I imagine it must have been intended as a gender-flipped homage—with a much higher production value.
It might be easier to find sympathy for Nathaniel and White Josh if they could stop talking about how conventionally attractive they are for ten seconds, but they keep bringing up how much they exercise and how little body fat they have. It’s like the hot-guy equivalent of the “no homo” interruptions in Popstar’s “Equal Rights.” For instance:
Our pecs are perfect
But we have bad days
So don’t objectify us
With your male and female gaze
We have childhood traumas
Just like you
’Cause fit hot guys have problems too.
This is Hull’s first spotlighted Crazy Ex-Girlfriend song, and he does a fine job of keeping a straight face while pointing to his own abs, though it’s Foster who gets to deliver the best line (“Give us back our shirts, you monsters!”) during their little striptease—sorry, I mean go-go dance.
Mid-song, Nathaniel and White Josh encounter Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III), whose presence is not surprising in the slightest, considering he’s spent the episode flashing singles and refusing to discuss his new fireman-adjacent job. “Hold on, are you actually here?” asks White Josh when Josh enters the scene. “Like, in reality?” When Josh confirms it, Nathaniel invites him to join the imaginary song and dance. It’s generally understood that the songs in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are meant to be non-diegetic—the characters aren’t really singing and dancing, that’s just the way Rebecca interprets the world around her—but it’s always fun when the show blurs that line between the imagination and reality, and this is no exception.
Best Song of the Week: This was a very strong episode, musically, but I’m giving it to the guys of “Fit Hot Guys,” for tearing down the fourth wall as smoothly as they tore away those pants.
But don’t look at them! They’re not dancing for you!
One more thing
You depend on Slate for sharp, distinctive coverage of the latest developments in politics and culture. Now we need to ask for your support.
Our work is more urgent than ever and is reaching more readers—but online advertising revenues don’t fully cover our costs, and we don’t have print subscribers to help keep us afloat. So we need your help. If you think Slate’s work matters, become a Slate Plus member. You’ll get exclusive members-only content and a suite of great benefits—and you’ll help secure Slate’s future.Join Slate Plus