Brow Beat

Lawyer Jokes and Folk-Rock Pretzels, on a Perfectly Ordinary Episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Burl Moseley as Jim, with others posing in blazers in shades of pink and purple.
Burl Moseley as Jim (center) in the most recent episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
John P. Fleenor/The CW

If you were worried that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s 18-episode season would drag out the plot or pad the extra time with filler, fear not, because the third episode, “I’m on My Own Path,” packs a lot into its 40 minutes. For starters, Rebecca sits down with Josh and owns up to all the wrongs she’s done him over the past three seasons, and not by shouting them in a church this time. Josh, in a sign of unexpected growth, actually reciprocates by admitting he’s not blameless for the problems with their relationship either. Meanwhile, Heather marries Hector not once but twice, first so that he can use her insurance and then to make his dream of a more traditional, ostentatious ceremony come true. And to top it all off, Rebecca makes a major change to her life that, for once, doesn’t involve moving across the country.

I could dedicate the rest of this column to the strains of “The Moment Is Me” that play as Heather walks down the aisle, but we have two full-length songs to unpack, both of which are only tangentially related to any of those many plot points. First up is “Don’t Be a Lawyer,” which will probably not be featured in any law school recruitment ads anytime soon. Last week, Rebecca was conflicted about rejoining society after being exposed to all of West Covina as the infamous Rooftop Killer. Now, she’s equally hesitant about going back to her job as a lawyer at her old firm with a terrible new name, Mountaintop. Or as Rebecca puts it, going back to “the only thing anyone has ever paid me or valued me for.”

Imagine Rebecca’s surprise to learn that she doesn’t have to be a lawyer, a choice she hasn’t seriously considered until her former colleague Jim (Burl Moseley) reveals he quit the profession to run a Pretzel Central franchise instead. He explains why—in song, of course—to Rebecca and his employee AJ, played by Clark Moore of Love, Simon.

“Don’t Be a Lawyer” is new jack swing to the core, right down to the drum machine and the Bobby Brown dance moves, courtesy of choreographer Kathryn Burns. Moseley nails those moves and the song itself, which crams in a bunch of lawyer jokes (“No one ever said ‘First let’s kill all the tailors’ ”) while delivering some fun internal rhymes.

Your only expertise is running up fees

Speaking legalese like a dick

But it’s not too late to avoid this fate

Find any other job to pick

Those rhymes aren’t just the writers showing off, either. When the song deviates from that pattern, it’s to describe the polysyllabic realities of practicing law—being a lawyer literally ruins the rhythm of the song.

Law school debt, daily regret

Is that what you dreamed of as a kid?

Or did you hope one day that you’d find a way

To spend four years working on a

Pharmaceutical company’s merger with another pharmaceutical company?

“Don’t Be a Lawyer” concludes with a man in a suit warning that “The preceding song in no way reflects the views of CBS and the CW network,” before turning and jumping out of a window. Even for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, that joke is uncomfortably bleak, but “Don’t Be a Lawyer” seems to have found its target audience: actual lawyers. It’s already been covered on Legal Cheek and Above the Law and has sparked a delightful thread on r/law discussing whether being a patent attorney is more fun than dentistry and swapping horror stories about friends who set alarms to wake up every hour at night to check their emails.

That “Don’t Be a Lawyer” has touched a nerve suggests there’s at least some truth to the lyrics, but, as is always the case with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the situation is—you guessed it—a lot more nuanced than that. By the end of the episode, Jim goes back to being a lawyer after all, preferring it to running a small business. “I want someone to tell me where to go and what to do,” he says. “Then I get to complain to my friends and eat snacks someone else paid for.” Rebecca, on the other hand, accepts that it’s time for a career change. In a way, Jim was right about not being a lawyer—but not because of the long hours, the sky-high student loans, or any of the other issues he sang about. The decision is right for Rebecca because she never wanted to be a lawyer in the first place.

OK, we’ve gone this long without addressing the fact that this episode also features a pair of singing pretzels dressed up like Simon & Garfunkel, so let’s address it: This episode also features a pair of singing pretzels dressed up like Simon & Garfunkel.

Songwriter and music producer Adam Schlesinger gives voice to both parts of the duet, “Our Twisted Fate,” a ballad performed by pretzel puppets wearing tiny little eyebrows and wigs. You’d think it would be weird, but it’s pretty run-of-the-mill for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend at this point. The writers love a good pun, and there are plenty to choose from: “We’ve been a-salted.” “The whole thing’s getting stale.” “It’s the yeast that she could do.”

Paula remarks at the end of the episode that Rebecca opening a pretzel shop must be her destiny. There’s a lot of that going around: “I’m on My Own Path” is packed with callbacks to the first ever episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, in which Rebecca has an existential crisis because of an ad campaign for butter (which makes a cameo in “Our Twisted Fate”) and then quits her job in New York. One of the first things Rebecca does when she arrives on the West Coast is to pose on a giant pretzel, the joke being that oversize soft pretzels are one of West Covina’s many underwhelming selling points. They’ve ever found their way into some of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s promotional material.

“We are hurtin’ from the burden of being someone’s life motif,” the pretzels sing, but it’s not Rebecca who’s imbuing them with meaning this time.

Best song of the week: I have sent “Don’t Be a Lawyer” to two members of the legal profession so far, whereas I have sent “Our Twisted Fate” to exactly zero sentient folk-rock pretzels. You do the math.