Where to begin? Last Friday night’s episode of the CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend—titled “Will Scarsdale Like Josh’s Shayna Punim?”—was a Shabbos miracle. It had everything! How to thaw frozen whitefish salad; elderly relatives calling Asians “Orientals”; a bar mitzvah hora; midnight stress-eating of an entire marble halvah; Tovah Feldshuh saying “fakakta”; the return of Rachel’s J.A.P.-rap-battle nemesis Audra Esther Levine; Patti LuPone as the festive-tallit- and delicate-star-of-David-
— (((Yair Rosenberg))) (@Yair_Rosenberg) January 15, 2017
Then I came back to life to write this, because if you are not watching this show after I’ve now told you three times that it is the funniest, sharpest, most tuneful thing on TV, I will kill myself. It is the lowest rated show on network television but also one of the most rapturously reviewed; it has been renewed for a third season, despite a lack of support from you nogoodniks, so turn your farshtunkiner TV on. (And don’t say “Erev Shabbos” to me. Set your TiVo.)
In this episode, our heroine Rebecca and Josh Chan, her crush since summer camp who has finally, finally become her boyf, head back east from their home in West Covina, CA for a Garfinkel family Bar Mitzvah. Rebecca’s mother Naomi greets them at the door in only her strapless bra and Spanx (“Oh, I forgot you were bringing the Oriental”), arms in the air, waiting for her La Mer moisturizer to dry. (“I know it’s for my face, but for once I’m taking care of myself!”) Gradually, Josh’s determined sunniness wins over Naomi; she informs Rebecca that the term Oriental is “antiquated, eurocentric and inherently xenophobic.” (She and Josh Googled it. He’d known it was racist, but not why.) Rebecca wants Josh to be as miserable in Scarsdale as she is, but that’s not Josh. His warm, friendly goofiness charms everyone, making it hard for Rebecca to revel in her emo angst.
The tone is perfectly captured in the episode’s musical highlight, a freilach called “Remember That We Suffered.” Watch for yourself.
Trivia: The song is a reworking of one of Bloom’s earlier, pre-TV show numbers: “Think About All the Dead Jews.” Though it seems impossible, it is even darker than “Remember That We Suffered.” “When you’re having special times like this:/A raise at work/Your first French kiss/At the very height of bliss/Think about all the dead Jews.” Yikes. Maybe comedy and trauma are both encoded in our DNA?