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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Midseason Finale Turns Into a High School (Reunion) Musical

Skylar Astin as Greg and Rachel Bloom as Rebecca
Skylar Astin as Greg and Rachel Bloom as Rebecca
Robert Voets/The CW

Do you miss the Season 1 theme song? “Other Rebecca” does—or at least, that’s what she says in her one line in “I’m Not the Person I Used to Be,” the last Crazy Ex-Girlfriend episode until the new year. Other Rebecca (whose name may or may not be Deborah) has been a fun Easter egg for each new installment of the show, chiming in with a different comment at the end of the Season 4 theme song every week. These range from “I eat my own eyelashes!” to “I think I’m a fork!” to just straight-up barking. She’s supposed to be the more comprehensible, relatable alternative to our complicated protagonist, but she has issues of her own.

In this case, though, Other Rebecca’s one-liner about missing the old theme song serves another purpose, which is to set up the most meta episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ever. Sure, the show has knocked down the fourth wall plenty of times in the past, but now the writers have razed the rest of the house too, with Rebecca openly commenting on the musical trills we hear whenever she sees Josh or Nathaniel and other characters regularly alluding to “the end of the series … of holidays.” On top of all of that, the show re-casts a major role, Rebecca’s onetime love interest Greg Serrano, and then makes the bulk of the episode about re-casting that role.

Greg, the cranky bartender who discovered he was an alcoholic, was portrayed by Santino Fontana for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s first two seasons—well, one and a half—and took part in some of the show’s best songs, including “Settle for Me,” “We Tapped That Ass,” and my personal favorite, “It Was a Shit Show.” There was a time when Rebecca thought Greg was her “meant to be,” but that was before Greg abruptly left town and she stopped believing in things like “meant to be.” Oh, and did I mention that at her lowest point, Rebecca slept with his dad? Yeah. Now, Greg is back in West Covina for his belated 10-year high school reunion, and it turns out that Rebecca’s friends think she and Greg really are fated to wind up together. In other words, the group mind has decided they’re in love.

What those friends can’t see, though Rebecca can, is that Greg isn’t the same person he was, literally, because Santino Fontana has been replaced with a totally different actor: Skylar Astin. And the show isn’t just winking at the casting change but heavily incorporating it into the plot from the moment Greg walks in the door. “We realized this was an opportunity to lean into the perceptual differences,” showrunner Aline Brosh McKenna told Entertainment Weekly. “I go on Facebook now and everyone I’ve dated looks unrecognizable to me.” Astin brings similar mannerisms but a totally different energy to Greg than Fontana did, which can be explained away by the character’s long absence, during which he started business school and stopped drinking. And he gets a chance to put his own stamp on Greg right away with “Hello, Nice to Meet You.”

This is a very sweet song about re-familiarizing yourself with someone you used to know intimately: “Pleased to make your acquaintance, stranger/ I’ve spent many years processing my anger/ Wouldn’t know what to say to the person I knew/ But it’s nice to meet you.” It also incorporates a running joke about an unfortunate pizza-sex incident in Rebecca and Greg’s relationship that we apparently weren’t privy to until now. (Maybe it was Rebecca getting revenge for that UTI?) And Bloom and Astin perform the song against a backdrop of romantic comedy clichés, from sharing a magazine at the doctor’s office to dropping a baguette on the subway. I’ll admit, I was skeptical about Greg coming back to the show—not because of the recasting per se, but because Greg and Rebecca’s relationship was so toxic that even they eventually realized it. But “Hello, Nice to Meet You” is hard to resist, and Greg’s return provides a jolt of energy to a season that has gotten a tad stale.

Greg isn’t the only character who has changed in “I’m Not the Person I Used to Be.” Though Josh continues to be played by Vincent Rodriquez III, he has a bit of an existential crisis at his high-school reunion when he finds out that he wasn’t actually voted prom king all those years ago. In the midst of an existential crisis, he falls in with a new clique, the Magic Club, which is led by Danny Jolles’ George, who finally gets a full song to himself.

George chastises Josh—and teen movies—for not noticing that high school doesn’t revolve around popularity for everyone in a “Hollaback Girl” parody that stresses the accomplishments of the morning news team, the band geeks, and the goth kids.

George: RIGHT OVER HERE ARE THE ARTY GOTHS/ A REAL TIGHT-KNIT PACK/ WHILE YOU WERE WEARING TANK TOPS

Goths: WE WERE WEARING BLACK

George: WHILE YOU WERE WEARING CARGO SHORTS

Goths: WE WERE WEARING BLACK

George: WHILE YOU WERE WEARING FLIP-FLOPS

Goths: WE WERE WEARING BLACK FLIP-FLOPS

“George sang a song about high school that I don’t relate to in any way,” Bloom wrote on Twitter, referencing her own theater nerd past. But the song doesn’t just take it on face value that just because other groups are deep that jocks are shallow, either, as evidenced by Zac interrupting George to explain that he turned to sports to cope with his parents’ divorce. Don’t stick to the status quo, Zac!

Best song of the week: “Hello, Nice to Meet You.” See you in 2019.