Brow Beat

You’ve Never Heard the Music of La La Land Quite Like This Before

Rachel Bloom leads a crowd of people dancing in a street, all wearing bright colors.
No biggie!
Scott Everett White/The CW

I’m getting spoiled by Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and I don’t mean in the “giving away important plot details” kind of way. On the contrary, I have no idea where the rapidly approaching end of the series will take us, but this is the second week in the row the show has upped its dosage of musical numbers. That’s appropriate, given that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend will conclude with more than 150 songs to its name and a concert special called “Yes, It’s Really Us Singing.” But it also means that every remaining song counts, and we have three to unpack instead of the usual two.

No time to waste, then: “I Have to Get Out” is not our first time seeing Rebecca on medication, but it is the first time she’s at peace with the decision. When we first met the character in the pilot, she dumped the pills that made her feel like a “zombie” down the garbage disposal, choosing to self-medicate with romance instead. Later, she went scrambling for whatever she could find on her therapist’s bathroom floor. In Season 3, her mother drugged her against her will, and Rebecca later used those same pills to overdose on a plane. It’s no wonder she was so resistant to antidepressants.

Fortunately, Rebecca continues to have the best Black Lady Therapist in the business, Dr. Akopian, played by Michael Hyatt, who assures her that not only is it OK to take antidepressants, it’s also pretty common, with “Anti-Depressants Are So Not a Big Deal.”

The song is kind of the reverse of “No One Else Is Singing My Song” as Rebecca finally realizes she is not special for being sad, nor is she unique for taking medication to help. That’s why a La La Land parody makes sense: If “Another Day of Sun” is about how Los Angeles is full of people who share the same dreams of stardom, it’s a very apropos twist to make the commonality among West Covina residents antidepressants, instead. Though “So Not a Big Deal” is only credited to Rachel Bloom and Adam Schlesinger, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s other songwriter, Jack Dolgen, also shared that he’s been taking them for 7 years ago.

There are several fun cameos from past supporting characters in the song, including Josh’s sister and new mom Jayma as “the happy homemaker.” There’s also a shoutout to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s frenemies in the Standards and Practices department explaining why they’re singing the generic names for different medications: “Our lawyers won’t let us say brand names.” (Morrissey evidently didn’t have to deal with S&P when he included both brand and generic names for “Diazepam (that’s Valium)” in 2009’s “Something Is Squeezing My Skull.”)

There’s yet another fun appearance in the next song, “Real Life Fighting Is Awkward,” from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend choreographer Kathryn Burns.

The newly formed friend trio of Nathaniel, Greg, and Josh has a whiff of Santa Ana winds trickery to it—way to go, little cough boy—and it was bound to result in a showdown between two old buddies who have been through a lot. This more realistic take on Carl Douglas’ “Kung Fu Fighting” demonstrates exactly what the title suggests, using movie and theater genres. I appreciate that they made an effort to incorporate Josh’s years of karate:

EVEN IF YOU KNOW KARATE

YOU HAVE TO BOTH AGREE TO USE KARATE

IT CAN’T JUST BE ONE GUY USING KARATE

YOU GOTTA HAVE SOME GROUND RULES

The life-is-not-a-movie theme does not carry into Rebecca’s solo in this episode, which is a reprise of one of my favorite Season 3 songs, “End of the Movie.” This time, though, there’s no Josh Groban as a background extra, just Rebecca in the hospital morgue as she realizes that sometimes life, like a hacky screenplay, isn’t subtle.

“For the most part the universe is chaos and that’s just how life goes/ But occasionally, things line up where you’re like, ew, life, that’s so on the nose!” she sings. Life is short—so short that Rebecca finds herself literally among the dead with a flyer for a theatrical audition printed on her chest. I’m getting a sense of déjà vu here, since it wasn’t that long ago that Rebecca opened her pretzel shop with an entire song imbuing inanimate objects with meaning. She pushes back on that idea in this episode by insisting that motif wasn’t actually her “dream,” but isn’t that the same thing that’s happening now? Does the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend universe believe in signs or not?!

Best song of the week: “Anti-Depressants Are So Not a Big Deal.” Also not a big deal: no new episodes until March.

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