Brow Beat

Disappointed Mothers of the World Unite in Song on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Disappointed moms of different ethnicities.
Tovah Feldshuh as Naomi on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Eddy Chen/The CW

If for some reason you find yourself reading the YouTube comments on the video for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s “Where’s the Bathroom?”—as one does—you’ll notice a curious trend. The song, which introduces Tovah Feldshuh as Rebecca’s mom in the first season, is described as “the definitive Jewish mother song.” But in the comments section, the musical whirlwind of nagging, disapproval, and bladder control issues has struck a chord across cultural divides. “I have a Mexican mom and she does the same,” one user writes. “Like every South East Asian mom,” adds another. “Oh my god! when did she meet my grandma!?!” asks a third. The details of the song might be specific to Jewish mothers, but its sentiments have resonated with the offspring of Korean, Chinese, Brazilian, Italian, Polish, and other parents everywhere. “Moms will be moms,” one commenter summarizes. “It’s one thing that unites all humanity.”

The Crazy Ex-Girlfriend writers seem to have taken that to heart. In “I Will Help You,” Rebecca flies to New York to support her mother as she receives an award for her philanthropic work. But Rebecca’s plan to finally come clean backfires when it turns out that internet-savvy Naomi—who also knows when it pays to read the comments section—has already learned about Rebecca’s suicide attempt and jail time. Instead of offering support, she clings to what she considers Rebecca’s one accomplishment, making partner at her law firm out in California. It comes as quite a shock, then, when she learns that Rebecca has also quit her semi-prestigious job to open a pretzel shop, and she forbids Rebecca from telling any of her friends—or, more accurately, frenemies, because it seems Naomi is as prickly in all her relationships as she is with her daughter. An instrumental version of “JAP Battle” even plays as Naomi and Rebecca approach their mother-daughter rivals, the Levines, though sadly there is no reprise.

Instead, we get the musical highlight of the episode, the dismissive “Forget It,” a vaguely Madonna-flavored pop song sung by a blinged-out Feldshuh.

“In your search for happiness, you never thought of me/ You haven’t caused me so much pain since my episiotomy,” sings Naomi. In the kind of solidarity that would make fans of “Where’s the Bathroom?” proud, this time Naomi is joined by mothers of other ethnic backgrounds to echo their disappointments in their daughters. (The lone exception is the passive-aggressive WASP-y mom at the end, who reassures us that “everything’s fine.”) But the highlight of the song is a genius rap breakdown by Emilio from the frame store, who verifies Naomi’s worst fears: Semi-strangers are judging her. Songwriters Rachel Bloom, Adam Schlesinger, and Jack Dolgen teased the song last year on an episode of Billboard on Broadway and said that the part was originally conceived as a guest role for fan of the show Lin-Manuel Miranda, but he’s played here by Damian Gomez instead.

This week’s actual guest star is Elayne Boosler, and for those too goyish to know who that is, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend provides a handy explainer: “You’ve got your Totie Fields, your Joan Rivers, your Fran Drescher, and then you got your Elayne Boosler,” Naomi tells Valencia of the comedian, who is allegedly a childhood friend she met at the affluent “Camp Kavetcha.” Boosler’s presence on the show has an even more charming explanation in real life: She met showrunner Aline Brosh McKenna through a shared love of crosswords.

For a while, it seems Naomi’s promise that Boosler will introduce her at the award ceremony is a Waiting for Godot­–style folly. But then she shows up just in time to sing a duet with Naomi, “If You Ever Need a Favor in 50 Years,” which Rebecca notes is “dead-on to this situation.”

It terms of specificity, it’s hard to beat “If you’re honored for your mitzvahs/ Call a Camp Kavetcha sister/ If she’s famous and she’s distant/ Get in touch with her assistant/ If you still can’t find her/ Have your daughter’s goyish friend remind her.” That’s in contrast to the other song of the episode, which is a cruel tease. Josh, who is once again adrift and crashing with Rebecca, discovers that living on his own isn’t as easy as he imagined it would be. Fortunately, Darryl is there to help.

Wow, take that, Jordan Peterson. The brevity of “How to Clean Up” is a pretty good gag, but Darryl’s advice is obviously not going to do anything for Josh, who can’t get a bedsheet on a mattress and thinks spaghetti can be cooked with only a few drops of water. In a saucepan. In the oven. Somehow, though, his greatest crime is still snapping the pasta in half.

Best song of the week: I’m tempted to give it to “How to Clean Up,” but for some reason that fills me with unspeakable guilt, so “Forget It” it is.