Brow Beat

The Boys of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Learn How to Communicate (in Song, Of Course)

Vincent Rodriguez III and Scott Michael Foster in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Vincent Rodriguez III and Scott Michael Foster in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Paul Sarkis/The CW

We are, if I may use a sports analogy, in the home stretch. “I Can Work With You” takes us into the second half of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s final season, and it’s time to generalize about men. The lyrics from Season 3’s girl-power anthem (“All men are emotionally stunted/ When asked how they feel, every man’s always grunted”) have never seemed more apropos than in this week’s episode, in which two very different gents struggle to communicate. Nathaniel tells Josh that he doesn’t actually dislike him; the two just have nothing in common. You would think the fact that Nathaniel once put out a hit out on Josh’s grandfather would be more of a factor in their mutual animosity, but fine, let’s accept Nathaniel’s assessment at face value. Josh, as we’ve come to know him, is sunny, easygoing, and a little bit dim—although lately he’s shown he can be much more insightful than when we first met him. Nathaniel is overly competitive, arrogant, and kind of a jerk—although, as he fiercely reminds everyone, he’s “nice” now.

How will these two bridge the gap between them? Sports analogies, “the common ground in all men’s personalities.” No, really. The two start Rat Packing it up over their shared athleticism: Josh loves karate, while Nathaniel is a water polo fiend, and it’s enough to overcome their differences—or at least long enough to stop bickering during a game of charades.

This is a great genre for Vincent Rodriguez III, in particular, and I’m glad to see him revisit it after he knocked “I’ve Got My Head in the Clouds” out of the park. (Sports analogy!) The song itself is the musical equivalent of The IT Crowd’s running joke about how its nerdy protagonists can use the phrase “Did you see that ludicrous display last night?” to make conversation with manlier men. Except these men really do love sports, though they have an American disdain for soccer. The song itself is peppered with sports clichés.

Nathaniel: WE’RE DOWN FOR THE COUNT/ IT’S DOWN TO THE WIRE/ WE CAN’T DROP THE BALL/ WE GOTTA AIM A LITTLE HIGHER

Josh: ’CAUSE WHEN WE’RE ON THE ROPES/ AND IT’S OUR TURN AT BAT/ WE GOTTA THROW A HAIL MARY/ GOTTA GO TO THE MAT

Nathaniel and Josh: SPORTS ANALOGIES/ SPORTS ANALOGIES

Nathaniel: WE’VE FOUND THE COMMON GROUND/ IN ALL MEN’S PERSONALITIES

It’s funny, but for all that Nathaniel and Josh are supposed to be performing their masculinity, their shared language lets them express feelings without having to actually express them—kind of like how Rebecca uses musical theater to express hers. There are also more than a few sports-related innuendos in the duet (“you pitch and I’ll catch,” “our lead to blow,” “my shuttlecock”), which, considering it’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, is probably not an accident. I’m not sure whether it’s a comment on sports as an outlet for homoerotic desire, a genuine hint that Josh and Nathaniel could wind up together—hey, crazier things have happened on this show—or that writers Jack Dolgen and Adam Schlesinger just think the word shuttlecock is funny.
In any case, it’s one of the most finger-snapping musical numbers of the season so far.

Despite the relatively low stakes of Nathaniel and Josh learning to get along, this episode was a big deal for Rebecca, even though she’s still repeating herself: She underestimates how difficult it is to babysit, again, and she gets back together with Greg, again. The difference is that this time, Rebecca is more self-aware. That leads to a sweet reprise of “Hello, Nice to Meet You” as Rebecca comes face to face with her offspring.

I’m probably heartless for thinking this, but I kind of liked Rebecca’s pathological disinterest in the baby until now. She made it clear upfront that her egg donation was only a favor to Darryl and that her role in the kid’s life would be limited to choosing where she goes to college. Sure, it’s nice that Rebecca is taking a more involved role in Hebby’s life as an aunt, but it’s typical of Darryl and his boundary issues that he insisted on his egg donor bonding with the baby when she was so clearly reluctant. As for the song itself, Rachel Bloom sells it well, but it’s no “So Maternal.” It’s too bad this scene wasn’t between surrogate mother Heather and the baby, because then it could have borrowed a line from the original, verbatim: “Hello, nice to meet you, you’ve been inside of me.”

Best song of the week: Not really fair to compare, but “Sports Analogies” made me want to strut around a stage in a tuxedo with a glass of scotch. Home run!

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