In “I Need Some Space,” Crazy Ex-Girlfriend does what it does best: It touches on incredibly important topics without veering into cheesy PSA territory (*cough cough* Glee seasons 3-6). In this case, we get two issues. First up, Rebecca, whose mental health seemed A-okay amid a few charmingly sitcom-y episodes, deals with backsliding. The boring, monotonous work of maintenance is an aspect of mental health that hardly ever receives mainstream media attention. Rebecca, so caught up in the happiness and distraction of her new relationship with Greg, hasn’t been going to group therapy sessions and eschewed the idea of taking medication, because when she had taken it in the past, it turned her into a zombie.
Her mental health issues come to a head after she strong-arms Greg into going with her to her dream spot in West Covina, Raging Waters, the water park long referenced but never before visited. (Thanks to a plea on Twitter, this episode was actually filmed on location!). But just as a new relationship doesn’t automatically cure your mental health issues, becoming sober doesn’t make you a new person, and Greg is still, well, Greg. And that means he hates everything, except Rebecca. In a Springsteen-style power ballad, Greg finally gets a solo number worthy of Skylar Astin’s talents. (Side note: I love how this show brings back songs in the score that underlie the relationship on screen. In this case, a little bit of “I Gave You a UTI.”)
Rebecca, still miffed and a little burned, returns home, snapping at Greg until he gives her time to cool off. But rather than take some time to listen to the wise words of her therapist, Rebecca puts on heavy eyeliner and a choker, snorts an aspirin (ouch), and drinks heavily (which, for a petite Jewish girl, means three entire drinks). In her evening of bad decisions, she begins with a taco truck, and then Nathaniel’s apartment, where he does the right thing by rebuffing her advances and tries to put her in an Uber. But that means she’s back home with her roommate Josh, who makes Rebecca want to fulfill her Chorus Line-themed fantasies.
But season 4 Rebecca is not season 1 Rebecca. And this is a Rebecca who’s able to recognize when she’s been in the wrong, and try to get better, even if it means sleeping the rest of the night on the bench outside her doctor’s office (and be willing to try medication again).
As for issue No. 2, you’ve heard that heart attack symptoms in women are a lot more nebulous than they are in men? That’s the case with poor, hardworking Paula, studying for the bar and working at Mountaintop, but dealing with crazy sickness that she dismisses as exhaustion and premature menopause. Fortunately, she eventually goes to the doctor (played by Rachel Bloom’s real-life husband, Dan Gregor), who operates and keeps our mama bear alive to fight another day.
With all these all-too-important issues, I think it’s important to remember that Rebecca songs an incredibly nuanced song about the darkness she deals with that can be so comfortable, with the great joke that the darkness is a douchey guy wearing guyliner.