The latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend can be summarized in just three letters: OTP. That stands for One True Pairing—but you already knew that because, like Rebecca Bunch, you’re super young and hip to the lingo. Insisting that two people are fated to be together can be fun when you’re talking about fictional characters, but it’s obnoxious and invasive in real life. That doesn’t stop the matchmaking meddlers in “I’m So Happy For You” who try to push two different couples together for their own selfish reasons.
Darryl and White Josh, once the show’s healthiest romantic relationship, broke up in Season 3 for a painfully simple reason: Darryl wanted a baby, and White Josh didn’t. Now, they say they’re just friends, but they have been spending a lot of time together post-breakup watching Generic British Murder-Mystery: The Show and even bonding over Darryl’s daughter. That has led their friends, colleagues, and certain audience members to ask: Why don’t they just get back together already?!
If only there were a song for that …
“The Group Mind Has Decided You’re in Love” spoofs Western movie musicals like Annie Get Your Gun and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers by modeling itself after the granddaddy of the genre, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!. More specifically, the song, décor, and costumes are a riff on “The Farmer and the Cowman,” another ditty about trying to force people together. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s entire main cast joins in trying to push Darryl and White Josh into a romance again despite their obvious discomfort, with plenty of shouts of “Yee haw” and “Hot dang” for good measure. If only all songwriters could save themselves the trouble of figuring out how to end a song by just letting the singers shout “Horse!” instead.
Rachel Bloom teased the “Group Mind” choreography as the most elaborate the show’s ever done, but it’s more than an excuse to show off with a big group number. As several of the women transition from square dancing to en pointe Darryl asks, “So now they’re randomly doing ballet?”—a reference to the dream ballets that Oklahoma! popularized. “Group Mind” takes this a step further by throwing in a little dabbing, too, as characters sing about the escapist nature of shipping fictional characters or celebrities or even friends. When White Josh asks “Rebecca, don’t you have bigger problems going on right now?” her response is “Yes, and this is a welcome distraction!”
Rebecca: Now you might say we just need a distraction
Darryl: You just said that!
Rebecca: Shh! From the stress and drama of our lives/ But I go, “lalalalala,” when you swear/ That there’s nothing there
AJ: Your love’s the only reason I survive.
It’s no accident that the cast is singing to—or rather, singing at—Darryl and White Josh, of all the show’s romantic pairings. “Group Mind” takes shots at the infantilization of queer men and their relationships (“The thought of it/ Makes everyone all squee”) as well as the unfortunate phenomenon of pairing off two queer people simply because of their sexuality. “You’re kinda the only two/ LGBTQ/ People I know, so to me it’s clearly fate,” sings Tim. (Presumably, Tim means they’re the only LGBTQ men he knows since Maya, his colleague who is standing literally five feet away, is also bisexual.) That lyric is where the line between shipping real people and shipping fictional characters starts to get fuzzy. Despite one important irreconcilable difference, Darryl and White Josh really were a great couple, so it’s hard to blame anyone for wanting them to reunite. And if there’s a shortage of compatible LBGTQ people for them to date in the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend universe, well, that’s on the writers, not the fans or the Tims.
There was a time when the leader of “The Group Mind Has Decided You’re in Love” would have been Paula, who out-manipulated, out-blackmailed, and out-threatened even Rebecca in the first season. She’s since retired from meddling, but she’s right back where she started in “I’m So Happy for You,” when she finds out that her son, Brendan, is planning to leave the country for five to 10 years on a copycat Peace Corps mission in Botswana.
Paula panics and tries to set him up with his high school crush so he won’t go.
It doesn’t work—it never does!—so she gives up and says goodbye.
I complained just last week that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend wasn’t giving us enough emotional, personal songs, and this episode delivered.
“I’ve Always Never Believed in You” is the antithesis of “If I Didn’t Believe in You” from The Last 5 Years, with Paula assuring her son that she had no faith in him and that his success as an adult is something she could not have predicted, a message that is laid out in a lyrical maze of double negatives. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend creator Aline Brosh McKenna compared it to her own experience as a mother. “There is a comedic bite to the song, a ballad about a mom being surprised how capable her son is,” she wrote in an essay for Entertainment Weekly. “My son was never a truant or a juvenile delinquent, but really, the song, to me, is about how wonderful and surprising it is to be a parent of any type of kid. You create these beings, at first they can do nothing on their own, and then one day they surpass both you and your expectations for them.”
Donna Lynne Champlin revealed on Twitter that the song was originally going to be cut together with scenes of Paula in a pop star fantasy landscape. Keeping the whole thing in the intimate space of Brendan’s room while he packs was the right choice.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend takes a special interest in the relationships between parents and their kids that would make Freud proud, and songs like “Where’s the Bathroom,” “Get Your Ass Out of My House” and “Maybe She’s Not Such a Heinous Bitch After All” reflect the show’s mommy issues. Despite doing laundry and helping with homework Paula has, until recently, never been interested in her sons as people, preferring to spend time with her surrogate daughter Rebecca. There’s a very “Cat’s in the Cradle” sentiment to “I’ve Always Never Believed in You” as Paula explains that she never thought Brendan would amount to anything—but he did. Champlin’s high notes are dazzling and the song’s message is incredibly sweet, even when Paula recalls looking down at her newborn son and thinking, “Yep, that’s a murderer.”
Best song of the week: “I Always Never Believed in You.” Sorry. Horse!