Season 3, Episode 5
Date of airing: November 10, 2017 (The CW)
Nielsen ratings information: 0.661 million viewers, 0.4/1 in Households, 0.2/1 with Adults 18-49, 0.2/1 with Adults 18-34, 0.3/1 with Adults 25-54
Thank the heavens for the producers of this show realizing that the end credits music would have been fully and horribly misplaced after the suicide attempt scene. Ending the episode with music-less end credits was the right choice, although I also would have accepted a continuation of the slow and emotionally sad piano music that accompanied Rebecca’s suicide attempt, just to signal that things weren’t ending with those credits, but still continued, only we get to see the end credits and not what happens after Rebecca’s told the flight attendant that she needed help. Besides that, the final scene was really hard to watch. Finally, the show went into the dramatic corner as I hoped it would do at one point, and finally the writers were ready for the suicide theme to be part of Rebecca’s arc, after it has been teased multiple times via the lyrics of the musical numbers. And finally, something about the show was fully serious and made me uncomfortable (only because of the suicidal theme, which is a stigma, although I would love to talk about it one day), proving that CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND can be a full-fledged drama, too. It’s something I wanted from the show since its beginning. It’s something the show has earned to deliver now.
That the suicide attempt would happen at one point this season has been pretty obvious ever since “Where is Rebecca Bunch?”, after the lyrics “my reason for living has abandoned me” showed up during Rebecca’s part of the song. She was in the middle of an emotional breakdown all through the previous episodes after Josh left her at the altar and she failed feeling good by taking revenge. The first musical number of the season saw Rebecca forcing herself to transform, just to survive the confrontation with her friends after the failure that was her wedding, and that transformation did not help her. It’s almost like she fully gave up on life after she alienated her friends and the entire episode was essentially one long suicide attempt — you slowly say goodbye to life by forgetting that your friends ever existed, then you slowly sleep through the days, so that life even forgets you exist, all while in the meantime you figure out how to kill yourself. It’s almost like the writers had some experience with the topic (or just researched extremely well), because Rebecca’s journey through the episode felt very realistic and like something a real person would do when contemplating suicide. And then it actually happens — on an airplane. The way Rebecca downed the pills was one of the most painful things to watch, because she didn’t just swallow the pills all in one go, she had to do it four times. Four times she made the decision to kill herself during that scene. Four times she realized that no one was here to help her, and that the easy way out is just to fall asleep and never wake up. Four times this scene played in front of the network executives and Standards & Practices, who may have been worried about the depiction of this suicide attempt, especially when 13 REASONS WHY came with an equally brutal suicide attempt, which Netflix had to retract two years later and remove said scene from the first season finale of the teenage drama series.
Before the suicide attempt, the episode still had enough time to depict what life is like in West Covina without Rebecca. I always come back to the song “I Have Friends” from the first season, and this episode is just another example of how she does not even know that people love and miss her and just want her back, so they can talk to her and she can either listen or not. But they know that she cares about them, yet she doesn’t know they care about her, too. Turns out her friends are as miserable as Rebecca is when she is not around — they function as much as Rebecca does when she is absent, showcasing how much of an impact she has created with her arrival. Granted, half of the people that have been impacted by her are only recurring characters, so they aren’t that meaningful to Rebecca’s character arc, but it’s still a picture of hope. When Rebecca gets better and back to West Covina, a world is waiting for her with people who do give a damn.
Okay, those people really are crazy though. It almost looked like Jim, Maya, Darryl and Nathaniel didn’t have any friends either, so losing Rebecca was a huge blow to them. The fact that they didn’t realize they could have started a support group together made me think that either the writers forgot to include that joke into the episode or that the entire story in West Covina was just there to create a balance with the tragedy slowly forming on the East Coast, which means it was essentially a plot device. The entire episode was not supposed to be dark and moody and like a prime cable television drama, this still had to be CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND, which means awkwardness ensued when Cornelia was dealing with all of Rebecca’s friend. Awkwardness also ensued with me, because every time she started speaking I was hearing Vanessa Bayer – it was confusing all the way through the episode. It made me wonder what the episode and this character would have looked like with Bayer’s straight-woman character she always played so weirdly good on SNL.