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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Does Cats as Only Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Can

Todrick Hall in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Todrick Hall in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Screencap from the CW broadcast

At the beginning of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s midseason premiere, “I Need Some Balance,” Rebecca announces that she hates cats—“both the animal and the musical.” While the first half of that revelation is a little surprising—it wasn’t that long ago she was ready to adopt a buttload of them—the second half tracks: Rebecca has previously accused Cats of having no plot (and she’s not wrong). In this episode, though, that criticism is a little ironic, given that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s own plot has been moving in fits and starts lately: As Katy Waldman notes in the New Yorker, the final season has grown so introspective that it might be better off as a novel. Sure, there are times when Rebecca will start a brand-new business or Heather and Hector will suddenly decide to get hitched. But just as often in Season 4, an episode will end with very little having happened, at least externally. That’s commonplace for plenty of sitcoms, but it’s unusual for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and a sign that we’re nearing the end.

This week’s episode is, in the spirit of Cats, very light on plot indeed: Rebecca reconnects with a one-night stand who ultimately gets scared off, presumably never to be heard from again; Nathaniel and the recently recast Greg go to Rebecca’s to confess their feelings but then change their minds; and Darryl backslides into his old, needy habits by competing for the affections of his employees. It’s all a backdrop for an exquisite, hourlong parody of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical based on an unspoken double entendre; the CW strictly forbade them from actually saying the word pussy, but you get the drift. You see, just when you thought Crazy Ex-Girlfriend couldn’t possibly get any weirder, it gives Rebecca’s vagina an episode of its own: The “I” in “I Need Some Balance” is none other than our protagonist’s crotch, which communicates with her through various singing felines.

(Bloom said during a livestream on Twitter that releasing the songs from this episode was a “long story,” and they have not been uploaded online. The holdup is probably a rights issue relating to the guest performers—at least, that was the reason Josh Groban’s “End of the Movie” from Season 3 was never released as a single. To hear some of the songs, you’ll need to go watch the episode. They’re worth it.)

The excuse for the episode’s premise is that feral cats are roaming the streets of West Covina. Is the San Gabriel Valley really known for having a severe stray-cat problem? The most recent literature on the subject suggests that the population is in decline, which would mean that unlike the clever use of a regional phenomenon, the Santa Ana Winds, this is purely a plot contrivance. In any case, the feral cats whisper-sing their promise to “introduce ourselves over ’80s Broadway beats,” just like in what Rebecca calls “the song about what makes a Jellicle cat and then just goes on to describe literally any cat.”

First up is Hungry Cat, played by Riki Lindhome (half of comedy duo Garfunkel and Oates), who appears to Rebecca after her attempt to watch porn fails.

I’m filled with desire

I need to be fed

Don’t be mad if you find crumbs

’Cause I like to eat in bed.

I’m a lonely little kitty

Stroke my fur, it’s soft as silk

Then bring me what I really want

A saucer of your milk.

It’s hard to interpret a hip-thrusting burlesque number with the lyric “My cavity needs fillin’ ” as anything other than sexual, but Crazy Ex-Girlfriend removes all subtext by having Rebecca spell it out: “Oh, I need to get laid.” Her solution is to finally go on a date with nonthreatening “Please Don’t Be a Murderer” Jason—but then an oncoming yeast infection caused by cheapo workout pants derails her plans.

Next, we have Fred Armisen as the Itchy Cat, and kudos to the wardrobe department, because his costume looks appropriately scratchy. “If you haven’t guessed, I’m the Itchy Cat/ Need aloe or some Monistat,” he sings, clawing at the walls and scatting. He’s followed by Funky Cat, who arrives when Rebecca overcorrects the problem, causing bacterial vaginosis and making her vagina smell “worse than the wedged-in plot device of the Heaviside Layer.”

Funky Cat is played by Drag Race’s Todrick Hall, channeling Rum Tum Tugger.

Funky Cat is all the rage

When something’s off with your pH

I’m having fun, I’m living life

Just oozing sex—and green discharge

Well if you don’t like the smell of me

You better get to a doctor on the count of three

One, two, three, Funky Cat!

Fortunately, Jason is perfectly reasonable about Rebecca’s condition once she does get to a doctor, and they’re both happy to do “other stuff” until she heals up. Their fooling around summons Elated Cat (GLOW’s Rebekka Johnson) for an interpretive dance set to big-band swing—a notably unsexy genre. Unfortunately, Nathaniel and Greg choose this moment to show up on Rebecca’s doorstep, where they’re met by Josh, wearing only underwear, for some reason. Three exes is too many for Jason, who bails, and the final cat, Nostalgia Cat, comes out to help Rebecca wistfully remember “the last time I boned” in a raunchier version of “Memory.” It doesn’t last long, but she is played by The Good Place staff writer Megan Amram, who wrote on Twitter that it took four hours just to get her costume and makeup on.

Four hours for a song that lasts less than 30 seconds, and the funniest line in the episode? Good luck competing with that, Taylor Swift. Dare we say: Emmy?

Best song of the week: Hall came at it with claws out, and it’s so Crazy Ex-Girlfriend to interpret Rebecca’s downstairs mess in the style of funk. Funky Cat may ascend to the Heaviside layer.

Update, Jan. 17, 2019: This post has been updated with video.