Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has always been, let’s say, eclectic. With its mix of cringe comedy, extravagant musical numbers, and surprising emotional rawness, the show often has to switch between moods and modes on a dime. When the creators and performers pull that off seamlessly, Crazy Ex is indisputably one of the best shows on television. But when they can’t quite figure out how to make the pieces work together, you have to be content considering them in isolation.
There are so many fantastic individual elements in “Who Needs Josh When You Have a Girl Group?”—an episode thematically centered on friend groups and being excluded therefrom. For starters, Heather, Valencia and Rebecca sing a Spice Girls homage (mixed with some world-domination themes from the Taylor Swift “Bad Blood” music video) about taking over the world with the power of their female friendship. The lyrics are as sharp as ever, particularly the little detail that “all agriculture will be diverted into making us rosé.”
There are other gems in the episode, too. The return of Trent (Paul Welsh), the stalker-y equivalent of Rebecca who made a brief appearance as her fake boyfriend last season, is downright inspired. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has a giant Greg-sized hole and, while Trent is no Greg, his off-kilter intensity is just what the show needs. And speaking of supporting characters who are finally getting their turn in the spotlight, Whitefeather and Associates’ administrative assistant Maya (Esther Povitsky) gets to team up with Darryl to try and infiltrate Rebecca’s girls’ night in. (By the way, when was the last time we saw two bi characters on television in a storyline that had nothing to do with sex?)
But ultimately “Who Needs Josh When You Have a Girl Group?” can’t build enough solid connective tissue between these pieces. The transitions between scenes are abrupt and the songs don’t feel a essential to the plot. A musical parody of R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet” about Paula being “Stuck in the Bathroom” is a great meta-joke, but it doesn’t necessarily flow all that well into her gut-wrenching conversation with Rebecca about female friendship and abortion. The performances are as strong as ever but they’re not given enough room to breathe while minor details like Karen’s sex toy saleswoman alter ego eat up screen time. (Don’t get me wrong, Stephnie Weir gives an absolutely brilliant performance, and I’d love to see more of her on Crazy Ex but there was a lot going on in this episode.)
As usual, though, this cast and crew seems too talented to ever fail outright. I keep waiting for the heartbreaking day when I’ll have to give out the equivalent of a C to an episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and it never comes. There are moments on this show, especially between Paula and Rebecca, that feel ripped straight out of the life of any woman, myself included, who has ever had a rollercoaster best friendship. And then there are moments—like when Rebecca, Heather and Valencia sing in their British accents about braiding their hair and using the braids to “hang all of Congress”—that are so darkly clever they make you want to go door-to-door begging your neighbors to watch this show. This week, all of these moments had to be appreciated on their own as little vignettes that didn’t exactly form a cohesive whole. But a fragmented Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is still better than a tightly-constructed episode of most other TV comedies.
May Saunders is a professional dog walker living in Minneapolis and an occasional freelance writer. In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out with her cat, who does not need to be walked. Follow her on Twitter.