Just four episodes into their second season, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has completely upended our expectations for the characters -- and yet we still feel right at home in West Covina.
Following her double breakup (and her ex Greg's literal, brilliant "s**t show"), Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) has a lot to figure out -- and fast. The biggest revelation from Friday's packed, borderline heavy episode, was that both Rebecca and Crazy fans were forced to say goodbye to Greg (Santino Fontana).
The season started off with Rebecca's ex getting sober and deciding to reboot his life by going off to business school in Georgia -- and according to showrunner Aline Brosh McKenna, the move isn't temporary. "Greg is gone," she reveals after a screening of the episode.
"Greg is a character that we adore, and Rachel especially adored, so saying goodbye to him in the right way was a challenging thing," Brosh McKenna continues, noting how important it was to get the tone right for his send-off tune, "It Was a S**t Show."
One of the most telling lines of the song was at the very end, when Greg admits, "And when you say that I should say, that's exactly when I should split," before riding away on an escalator.
It's a fitting exit for Greg, though one we didn't fully see coming, even if we should have. "One of the funny things about the show is West Covina is a type of purgatory," Brosh McKenna explains. "It's a place where everybody there is stuck in some way. What we thought was interesting was to take the guy who you might think at first was the most stuck and to have him change his outlook on life, and once he does that, he's able to do what he's never done before, and that's leave."
"It's funny because I think sometimes fans want a happy ending, and what they think of as a happy ending is boy and girl end up together, and for us this is a happy ending for Greg, because he's moving on to something that from the second we've seen him, he's wanted to do," she adds.
If anything, Greg's departure is an important move for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, because it proves it that the show can play with rom-com tropes, not live or die by them, and (hopefully) let Rebecca realize her own potential and evolve.
"The show's about the pursuit of happiness, and ultimately [Greg's] happiness would be elsewhere from [Rebecca]. So we'd always talked about doing that, and we knew it was going to happen this season," Brosh McKenna says. "Luckily, Santino was on board with him, so we worked with him to work on the right timing of it. He was fine with it and he embraced it, and he got a lot of great songs going out the door -- and a big tap number!"
With the lovable Greg officially out of our lives, where do we go from here?
Rebecca's love triangle has been retired, but she has plenty of other relationships to work on, namely those with the ladies in her life. With two breakups and one massive makeover behind her, she's moving in with Heather (Vella Lovell), who's been named the new face of "Miss Douche."
"She found a job, she's a spokesperson, she's the face of this national campaign," Brosh McKenna says of Heather. "She and Rebecca are such a funny pair because one of them is rather cool and the other one is all over the place, so they spend a lot more time together."
We've also seen Rebecca's first post-split run-in with Valencia (Gabrielle Ruiz), and we've been assured it's not the last she'll see of Josh's (Vincent Rodriguez III) other ex. "She and Valencia have bills to pay," the showrunner reveals. "Those relationships between Valencia, Paula, and Heather become increasingly important [for Rebecca], and then figuring out where she stands with Josh and what kind of relationship they can have going forward ultimately becomes important. It's a different phase in her life post-breakups, and she has to figure out how to move forward and how to heal from these things."
The hardest relationship to keep together may end up being the one with her BFF, Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin). Their friendship has always veered towards maternal, as Rebecca is "very self-absorbed, in kind of a lovable way." The fact that Paula quietly went through an abortion in this episode but doesn't reveal her tough decision with her closest pal is especially telling.
"Paula's not very good at asking for help and asking for support, and she knows what Rebecca's been through with both guys and going through the crazy makeover process," Brosh Mckenna says. "She wants to tell her, she tries to tell her, but she sees her face and she sees that she's doing well now and moving on, and she doesn't want to burden her. She's just a person who is accepting of her kind of sidekick role in maybe a way she shouldn't, and so she decides to just keep it to herself."
"Their relationship is a huge part of the show going forward," she continues. "They have to address these kind of inequities in their relationship. I always liken them to sixth grade girls who became friends because one of them had a crush on a boy, and what happens when that ends, then what kind of relationship do you have? And it requires a lot of trust on Paula's part to really have a more mutual friendship with her, so it's a struggle for both of them."
One thing's clear: Rebecca's life is still a mess, it's just a new kind of mess.
"The search for identity, the search for happiness, the search for friendship, the search for love, the search for success, redefining success, that continues," Brosh McKenna says. "We have a very deep bench of relationships on the show that she needs to explore, including Paula."
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.