Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is back for its third season on Friday on the CW. I’ve seen the first three episodes, and they are delightful. As I like to do sometimes for a returning show where the quality has remained steady for a while now, I’m going to highlight a few notable things about what’s coming up.
1. Get ready for “Funny Fatal Attraction.”
That’s the phrase co-creator/star Rachel Bloom has used to describe the third season (of a planned four-season arc for the series). Season two concluded with Josh Chan bailing on his wedding to Bloom’s Rebecca Bunch at the last possible minute, so now Rebecca’s Josh obsession has gone from creepy and unfortunate but mostly harmless into something much darker and more reckless. The new episodes pull off the tricky balancing act of making the other characters be sympathetic to Rebecca’s need for vengeance even as they disapprove of nearly everything she does in order to get it. Without giving too much away, her first two plans are so disgusting, it’s a wonder they made it onto the CW, even for a show that’s always been so risque.
2. Nathaniel is proving to be a great addition.
Scott Michael Foster joined the cast midway through season two as new law firm boss Nathaniel, who had little patience for Rebecca’s shenanigans. Nathaniel was essentially replacing Greg as Rebecca’s disapproving non-Josh romantic alternative, but you could tell that Bloom, Aline Brosh McKenna, and the other Crazy writers were figuring out Nathaniel, and what made him a funny part of this show, on the fly. By the time season three begins, they have found it, and Foster gets to have a lot of fun showing how Nathaniel responds to Rebecca’s new singlehood and the escalation of her Josh obsession. Foster now feels every bit the equal of all the folks who’ve been around since season one. And speaking of which…
3. The rest of the gang is still great, too.
Lots of promising story arcs for the whole supporting cast, weaving in and out of people’s attempts to either help Rebecca get revenge, or protect Rebecca from herself. Paula, for instance, is wrestling with how quickly she’s ready to forgive her cheating husband, Heather grapples with the realization that she’s on the verge of graduating college after years of telling everyone she’s a student, Darryl and White Josh’s romance hits some bumps over Darryl’s desire to have another kid, and Josh finds that entering the priesthood is more work than he at first expected. Heck, there are even subplots — and songs! — for some of the fringier characters, like obnoxious law firm associate Tim (Michael McMillian), who makes an unfortunate discovery about the state of his marriage. Rebecca’s story is still the engine that makes the show go, and Bloom is a joy playing this more unhinged version of the character, but Bloom and McKenna remain smart enough to realize that the people around her can’t just be props in Rebecca’s play — especially since Rebecca so often treats them that way.
4. No word on the new theme song yet, but the rest of the tunes are swell.
The season premiere is theme song-less, and the other two screeners didn’t have the new opening title sequence (directed by music video vet Joseph Kahn), so I’m as in the dark as the rest of you about whether this intro can top either the expository season one theme or season two’s ’30s movie musical riff. What I can say is that the songs featured in the body of each episode (written, as usual, by a combination of Bloom, Adam Schlesinger and Jack Dolgen) remain a treat, bouncing from style to style — a bit of Gene Kelly here, a dash of “It’s Raining Men” there, some Chicago sizzle down that way — and threading the needle between self-aware parody and genuinely catchy example of each genre. My favorite of the early group is a rare solo for Heather as she contemplates the end of her academic career, because, of course, Heather has no interest in getting a solo, despite being a character on a musical comedy. Despite her reservations, she still does a better job than I did on this week’s podcast:
Glad Crazy Ex is back. I won’t be recapping it regularly, but will try to check in when I can.