[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for the “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” Season 3 finale, “Nathan Is Irrelevant.”]
Despite the title “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) has officially gone on the record to reject the idea that she is insane in the series’ Season 3 finale.
Over the course of the past year, Rebecca survived a suicide attempt, was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), and even started therapy, all of which seemed to point to progress in treating her mental health. By the end of the season though, events transpired to the point where she was charged with attempted second-degree murder after she accidentally injured someone. When her lawyer and erstwhile boyfriend Nathaniel (Scott Michael Foster) suggested she offer up a plea of insanity, she was sorely tempted at first, but in the end, decided to take responsibility for her actions.
IndieWire spoke to co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna about Rebecca’s decision, which will most likely result in jail time and other harsh sentencing.
“We always knew that the end of this season would be a very low point for her and that it was going to sort of end and her realizing that she’s been in a bit of a fever dream,” said Brosh McKenna. “Somebody [was] saying, ‘You can use your disorder to eschew responsibility.’ And she does not want to label herself crazy. Last season she dealt with something that her mother used to have her eschew responsibility for — what she had done to [an ex-boyfriend] Robert. And in this, she’s saying, ‘I want to take responsibility for this.’
“And obviously, ‘crazy’ and ‘insanity,’ those are all very medically non-meaningful terms. She does have a disorder and does have mental health issues but this is about her saying, ‘In addition or besides that, I have made some decisions that are not great and people have let me off the hook. And now I don’t want to let myself off the hook anymore.’”
Check out additional highlights of our conversation with Brosh McKenna, in which she addressed more details about the finale, that unexpected time jump, Dog Josh, and the show’s end game:
Nathaniel the Ne’er-Do-Well
Although Nathaniel began as the unscrupulous interloper boss who took over Rebecca’s law firm, he’s slowly transformed himself to become a far softer and more loving sort of guy. That doesn’t mean he’s quite figured out all of the moral or ethical nuances of behavior though, as evidenced by the power duet, “Nothing Is Ever Anyone’s Fault.” Check it out below:
Despite Nathaniel’s very tempting argument (who could resist that power ballad?), Rebecca decided at the 11th hour to face up to her actions while in court. Each of her friends was present in the courthouse except for her BFF Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin), who was still stung by the revelation of Rebecca’s lying. But just as Rebecca was about to plead insanity, Paula showed up, and seeing her friend’s guarded face clinched the decision for Rebecca.
“In a romantic comedy there’s always a character that kind of protects the lead from taking responsibility because she is the one who is going to say, ‘Go to the airport and track him down,’ or ‘Run to the New Year’s Eve party and tell him how you feel.’ She’s the classic sidekick,” said Brosh McKenna. “Without her sidekick, Rebecca has to understand and face her own culpability, which Paula has a tendency to soften for her because Paula is, among other things, co-dependent. And so without Paula there, it’s up to her to use her own intellect and intuition to understand the situation that she’s in. When Paula shows up at the end, that’s when Rebecca is unable to make a choice that she knows is not the right choice for her.”
Heather the Pregnant Dilettante
PATRICK WYMORE/THE CW
While Rebecca is dealing relationship woes in the finale, her friend Heather (Vella Lovell) finally has to make good on giving Darryl (Pete Gardner) the baby she’s been carrying for him as a surrogate.
“The thing that’s happening in Rebecca’s storyline is that she is really going to a new level of understanding what her responsibilities are in the world. That’s definitely true for Heather too,” said Brosh McKenna. “She has to follow through on something, and she has to live with the inevitable consequences of the decision she made. Really that’s where those are thematically linked. It’s repercussions. You decide to have someone’s baby for them, you’re going to actually give birth. For Rebecca, she’s made a lot of decisions that are somewhat reckless morally and they all come crashing down on her, so it’s very much an episode about repercussions and responsibility.”
Paula’s Horrifyingly Gross Song
In trying to calm Heather down before giving birth, three-time mother Paula sings a song titled, “Miracle of Birth.” Unfortunately, she dwells a bit too much on the physical aspects of childbirth and ends up scaring Heather even more. Take a listen:
That Brilliant Time Jump
The series took a massive leap two episodes ago when it introduced an eight-month time jump in the middle of the episode. While Rebecca and Nathaniel were conducting an affair by hooking up in the back room of Home Base, various other characters were also hanging out at the sports bar. In a seamless edit, Heather — who has just become pregnant — walked behind the bar and when she emerged from the other side, she was sporting a significantly larger baby bump. While all the other characters also made big changes in their life, Rebecca and Nathaniel were still hooking up on the sly.
“We wanted to establish the conditions… the first time Valencia (Gabrielle Ruiz) and Beth (Emma Willmann) met and show here’s where Rebecca is in her relationship and then to jump ahead,” said Brosh McKenna. “We had a character that was pregnant, so that was one of the motivations to move that story forward. But another bigger theme was that everyone in their life was moving forward and whizzing past Rebecca. We wanted to show that she’s in a weird stasis with her relationship with Nathaniel. So having everybody jump ahead — White Josh has gone out of town, Valencia has a new relationship, and Heather’s having a baby — but Rebecca and Nathaniel have kind of frozen in time.”
She added, “That episode is directed by Erin Ehrlich, who has been one of our executive producers since Day One, and so she really understands how we were going to make that work. We worked really closely together. So it ended up being really fun. Somebody brilliant, not me, brought up the idea of using ‘The Moment Is Me’ to transition Heather around the bar. Everything in the bar has changed except for that neon sign, and that was Erin’s idea.”
When Valencia Met Beth
Although Valencia had dated Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III) previously, the show didn’t make a big deal of her developing a relationship with a woman during the time jump. In fact, it felt very natural and matter-of-fact.
“We wanted to show that in her personal life she’s gotten some things sorted out and she’s met somebody who appreciates her and talks to her in a way that Josh never did,” said Brosh McKenna. “We haven’t really seen Valencia in any other romantic situations since Josh. So when she meets someone who thinks she’s funny and appreciates her business — those are two things Valencia cares about. We wanted to show them meeting and that this person latches onto those things about her right away. Then that by the time you see them eight months later, they’re already in a relationship.”
Dog Josh: A Tail of Hound and Furry
While going to Mexico, White Josh (David Hull) also adopted a cute little dog that Josh Chan insists on calling Dog Josh because of its superficial resemblance to both of them.
“Rachel and I for a long time had been saying that White Josh should have a dog… because he seems like someone who doesn’t understand love. They wanted to give him something where he understands love in a really profound way that’s not romantic love. I think I actually was the person who said, ‘Maybe he could be called Dog Josh.’”
Finding the proper dog to embody Dog Josh was an important task. “Tom Cahill, for prop master, who is brilliant worked with some animal wranglers and he brought us maybe five or six dogs,” she said. “We looked for one that looked like David and Vinnie. It was that kind of like snub-nosed look, that kind of slightly flattened, small nose look that had jumped out at us. We think that Dog Josh is some sort of bulldog hybrid who somehow ended up living in squalid circumstances in Mexico. [White Josh has] adopted an orphan because Rachel and I both have rescue dogs.”
GREG GAYNE/THE CW
The End Is Nigh… If It Gets a Fourth Season
“We haven’t gotten picked up for Season 4. If we’re lucky enough to get a Season 4, that will be it for us. Season 4 will be our last season,” said Brosh McKenna. “We’re trying to kind of round out that journey. Rachel and I pitched this story in four chapters when we started working together. It was always a story about a woman’s descent and her rising up. And we’re excited to tell the back bit of that story.”