Brow Beat

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Crams the Beach Boys’ Entire Career Into a Single, Decades-Spanning Song

Donna Lynne Champlin as Paula.
Donna Lynne Champlin as Paula in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Greg Gayne/The CW

Have you ever driven an extra lap around the block on your way home just so you could hear the end of a song on the radio? Then you have some idea what the experience of watching the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is like: entertaining, self-indulgent, and ultimately, ending up right back where you started. Very little actually happens in “I See You,” which pairs the show’s characters in unlikely combinations to run errands that have no bearing on the overarching plot of this season. Rebecca and Darryl go out for barbecue, Heather picks up a stranded Nathaniel by the side of the road, and Paula hires Josh to help her move a desk so that she can study for her law school finals. Along the way, they learn to negotiate their differences and better understand each other—at least, in theory.

In practice, there are very few genuine revelations to be found during these odd-couple car rides, since the qualities the characters discover in each other are ones the audience already knows about, taking away some of the episode’s oomph. We already knew, for instance, that Nathaniel “I Go to the Zoo” Plimpton is a softie underneath his jerk exterior and that his closest relationships as a kid were with his family’s hired help, even if that’s news to Heather. We already knew that Paula has been discouraged her whole life and feels insecure about changing careers as result. And recent episodes have already established that Josh is capable of introspection and insight, even if his misuse of the language he learned in therapy (“That made me feel sucked”) fits with his dumb-hunk persona. The most important revelation in “I See You” is actually between Rebecca and Rebecca, since her almost-kiss with Darryl leads her to realize she can be attracted to someone who isn’t already attached or emotionally unavailable. Still, just like the characters, we still have to suffer through a long journey before we arrive at that discovery.

“Trapped in a Car With Someone You Don’t Wanna Be Trapped in a Car With” is the song that makes it worth it to circle the block. Starting off as a play on “Surfin’ USA” and the like—precisely the kind of song you’d expect to hear on a California road trip—the mindless chants of  “sun fun, fun in the sun” quickly give way to complaints about eating corn chips and taking off shoes, an unforgivable sin in any enclosed space.

Paula: But something feels off something’s not quite right

Heather: And now, you’re hoping that the end’s in sight because you’re

Rebecca, Heather, Paula, and Nathaniel: Trapped in a car with someone you don’t wanna be trapped in a car with 

But it’s when the tone shifts entirely that “Trapped in a Car” becomes something special. “It feels like so much time has passed/ That your taste evolves and you enter/ A more experimental era of your music career.” Suddenly, everyone is high, and we’re right smack dab in the middle of Pet Sounds, which is the best analogy I’ve ever heard for the state of being nauseous, bored, and out of it that accompanies an interminable road trip. In a move that would make Brian Wilson proud, Rachel Bloom’s own dog, Wiley, makes a voice cameo, a nod to the barking on “Caroline, No” from which Pet Sounds takes its name. The ride goes on so long that “Trapped in a Car” finally enters its “Kokomo” phase, with Darryl and Josh rattling off the names of SoCal towns and making the laziest possible rhymes:

Alhambra, Glendora, La Puente

Here’s some more-a

Covina, Pasadena

My baby, have you seen her?

(As astute Twitter observers have pointed out, Josh’s tank top is an apparent homage to Uncle Jesse on Full House.)

Oh, there is one other major plot development in this episode I forgot to mention: Darryl shaves his mustache! Seeing Pete Gardner without his character’s trademark facial hair is a little unnerving. The occasion was so momentous that it demanded its own song, which might as well be called “I Love My Mustache (but Not in a Creepy Way).”

“Farewell, Fair Mustache” is minutelong gag in which new father Darryl sings a lullaby, but not, as we might expect, to his infant daughter. Not a whole lot to say about that, except that Darryl’s stunt double now needs a makeover.

Best song of the week: “Trapped in a Car With Someone You Don’t Want to Be Trapped in a Car With.”