Remember during Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 3 when Rebecca was being drugged by her mother and started to believe that Naomi was being kind to her? During the song “Maybe She’s Not Such a Heinous Bitch After All” (which is incredible, by the way) Rebecca sings “I know it sounds like I’m falling in love, well, when we’re finding a mate, it’s our parents we’re thinking of. My relationship with her was my first failed romance, now finally, the cute boy’s asking me to dance!”
This topic of choosing a partner who treats us the way that our parents did is one that could summarise the entire episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend that I’m talking about today: “Can Josh Take a Leap of Faith?” But what I intend to look into is the darker side of it. That particular theory is already a disturbing one, but when it comes to Rebecca’s love life, the reason behind her choices lies in the problems she has with her mental health. I think it’s important to relate bad decisions Rebecca makes in the Season 2 finale to symptoms of the disorder we learn about when she is diagnosed in Season 4. That is the only way to make sense of her impulsive relationships throughout earlier episodes and not categorise her as crazy.
“Can Josh Take a Leap of Faith?” features both Rebecca’s mother and father, but, interestingly, they portray Naomi as a supportive figure to Rebecca, and her father as the bad influence. Previously, we have heard Rebecca slating her mother for being distant and judgemental but this is the first time that it’s suggested her mother may actually act the way she does to protect Rebecca from the harsh realities of her life. I recognise the judgemental side of Naomi, she can certainly be harsh on her daughter. But this is a common stereotype of Jewish mothers, that they are overbearing and too protective. I do believe there is goodness in her heart that shows us she does this out of care. Naomi standing up for Rebecca at certain points in this episode reminds me of the time she cried because Rebecca thought she hated her, and she said she loves her, and I think Naomi genuinely does want what she thinks is best, even if she’s not always correct.
This episode is pretty fun for me to dig into and that’s mainly because of all the little hints back to the pilot of the show. In a disturbing fashion, Rebecca’s behaviour towards her dad coming to her wedding mirrors the way she acted when she ran into Josh on that street in New York and moved across the country for him. It all starts with the famous “SO WEIRD, RIGHT?” text message! Rebecca sends the same message about wanting to meet to her dad, it matched her text to Josh right down to the casual “whatevs…” Of course, he says no. Rebecca’s father is a selfish, manipulative man, and Josh was never like that, but as Dr. Akopian points out later in this episode, these two men are similar because they’re both emotionally unavailable. That’s what Rebecca seems to be attracted to.
But why is Rebecca drawn to emotionally unavailable men? It all comes down to the diagnosis Rebecca receives in Season 4. She may not know it yet, but she has borderline personality disorder. Let’s look at the symptoms: fear of abandonment, self-destructive/impulsive behaviour, unstable relationships where you quickly fall in and out of love, shifting self-image, chronic feelings of emptiness, and emotional mood swings. The list of symptoms for BPD could be a summary written about Rebecca at this point in her life. She falls for men who are unavailable because she is making self-destructive decisions. She does not recognise her own self worth and seeks approval from people who are no good for her, or completely awful men like her father. She impulsively jumps into the deep end like she did with this wedding and giving her father money when he asked for a loan, and the only reason she does this is because of her fear of abandonment. She thinks: if I don’t make everything perfect right now through the ultimate gesture, this will be another man who leaves me, and that makes me worthless. It’s so obvious to recognise these symptoms in Rebecca, which makes this episode that is loaded with impulsive behaviour even harder to watch.
The background music in “Can Josh Take a Leap of Faith?” hints at some of the emotions felt by the characters. You will hear the tune of “Love Kernels” as Rebecca and her father share an awkward lingering hug at her party. I find this quite disturbing. Rebecca relates the small signs of affection that she receives from romantic partners to her dad showing up to her party. That moment encapsulates the unhealthy family bond she is attempting to keep with her father. She chases his love as she chased after Josh’s and Greg’s. Later on, as Josh gets dressed for the wedding, you will notice that whistle from “I Don’t Mind Being Alone” in the distance, and if this doesn’t let you know that Josh has no intention of going through with this wedding anymore, I don’t know what will. Note that that particular song is originally heard when Josh ends up choosing yet another pretty woman in his life over focusing on himself and his work. He’s following the same pattern again here by running to the first exit of choosing Jesus after a couple of conversations with Father Brah, rather than facing his worries with his fiance. This episode could have turned out much differently if Josh showed a certain level of maturity. He and Rebecca both hide from their problems and put their focus into their relationships rather than themselves in almost the exact same way. Neither one of them could currently hold a successful lasting relationship with another person.
Another factor that I find interesting in recognising emotion in certain scenes is that throughout Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, colour coordination of clothing is paid a lot of close attention. Rebecca, for example, wears black and under-dresses during times of depression, and floral patterns/yellows at times of hopefulness. Of course, to this party, she wears a blue dress, one that is incredibly similar to the dress she wore in the pilot during her performance of “West Covina” where she, in my opinion, confesses her love for Josh for the first time through song. Blue is used for the pursuit of love, whether that be with the men in her family or men in her romantic life. I wish I didn’t have to mention the fact that Rebecca showed up to the father-daughter rehearsal dance in her wedding dress, but it’s a major red flag that’s hard to ignore.
Paula and Rebecca discuss the pilot, too, in this episode. While getting ready for the wedding, they talk about when they first became friends at Beans’s party, and Paula vowed to help Rebecca get together with Josh. If anything, I see this as a reminder that Rebecca and Josh’s relationship was built entirely on lies, schemes and secrets. Mainly on Rebecca’s side. Paula and Rebecca bonded over tricking Josh into leaving Valencia and wanting Rebecca. It was completely wrong and made me feel just as nervous as Rebecca rushing ahead with this wedding did. Let’s not forget that she paid a huge amount of money to open up a wedding spot two weeks after the engagement. Those classic abandonment issues were the main factor behind why she did that, but ultimately caused her to fail in a romantic pursuit yet again.
Diagnosed by Dr. Akopian, and possibly triggered by her dad’s return, Rebecca starts to experience dissociative episodes before her wedding. Through these, we learn about an even darker experience with an inappropriate romantic partner that caused her to end up in a mental health facility. Dissociative episodes can also be a symptom faced by BPD patients, although it is an uncommon symptom. This shows how deep Rebecca has sunken into her illness—these episodes come about because she is starting to disconnect from her memories and identity again as she did at that darkest time in her life—and it is rooted in the fact that she believes fixing a romantic relationship will completely change herself and her entire life. She longs to be this new person who is only in love and happy, but when you start to convince yourself that the past didn’t happen and genuinely start to believe your own lies, you lose a sense of self-awareness that is needed to stay sane.
It’s the main theme throughout Seasons 1-3 of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend that Rebecca’s life revolves around the men in it. We have identified why that is, and the only true friends she has on her side up until now may be Paula and the darkness she is still holding close to her. Trent turning up in this finale represents another man that caused her trauma in her past returning to ruin her new endeavours because she has not yet faced any of that previous trauma. Rebecca jokes about her childhood abandonment and being left by countless men but she is in complete denial about the real damage caused. I can relate to Rebecca in many ways, but one of the strongest feelings I connect with is her fear of abandonment. I have learned the hard way that you have to face your issues and openly talk about them because it can become a serious habit to keep them locked away. Unfortunately, Rebecca won’t truly learn this until Season 4. I feel the pain from Rebecca when she learns that Josh left, just like I felt it when Greg sang “Shit Show” at the bottom of the airport escalators. Rebecca should view these men as people who wronged her and who she doesn’t have any use for, rather than someone she lost. Because that way, she won’t have any hope to ever try and win their hearts again.
As Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a musical, I must reference the musical numbers in this episode. But it’s not something to say too much about, because there are only two songs, and they’re not my favourite. Towards the beginning, Rebecca and Paula perform the heavy metal-inspired “What a Rush to Be a Bride?” which is a fun song all in all, but I find it too uneasy to play when I’m listening back to the soundtracks. The song does do an excellent job highlighting the intensity and stress behind wedding planning and the cliches involved in the wedding day itself. It almost points at weddings and laughs at the fakeness of the vows and the congratulations/backhanded compliments received from jealous guests. Your opinion on this particular song may vary depending on your opinions on weddings and your ability to have a sense of humour about it.
Then, just before her wedding is supposed to happen, Rebecca sings an emotional mix of reprises including “Stupid Bitch,” “Villian/Hero in My Own Story,” “I Love My Daughter”, and “We’ll Never Have Problems Again.” I like this for nostalgic reasons, but when you know what’s coming up, her hopefulness is mostly just sad to see. It is a very relevant choice of songs, however. “Stupid Bitch” is first because Rebecca is putting the blame onto herself and not recognising her self worth, she turns herself from the villain to the hero because she still blindly believes that this wedding will change her completely (disconnecting from her own identity.) The “I Love My Daughter” reference feels almost humourous here as it’s showing how creepy father-daughter relationships can seem after Darryl sang that creepy song, and ending with “We’ll Never Have Problems Again” represents nothing but pure denial every time that song is referenced.
It’s a disappointing ending to the finale when you only want Rebecca to move forward and focus on herself. When Josh leaves, Rebecca turns immediately to the thought of revenge despite Paula telling her that these men are to blame and not herself. If Rebecca loved herself and had a healthy mindset, she would have recognised the problematic nature of this whole wedding experience and tried to work on what makes her act so impulsively. But she isn’t close to recognising her mental health issues when she is so far in denial about having problems. I remember watching this suspenseful ending originally and being so excited to see what they would do to Josh, and if they would ever end up together again, but even as the viewer, I was following along with Rebecca’s mindset. I learned a lot from the final season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend which helps me to recognise where Rebecca followed the wrong path in the rest of the show. This is one of the major moments where Rebecca did exactly the opposite of what she should have done, and because of this, there are plenty of embarrassing moments coming up in Season 3.
A lighthearted final point I wanted to make about “Can Josh Take a Leap of Faith?” is that it saddens me as a huge Darryl and White Josh fan. Yes, I am a part of the group mind that believes they are in love, and clearly the true tragedy of the wedding was that it was started the insecurities in their relationship. Darryl learns that WhiJo has no interest in marriage, and starts to doubt their future. Later, he jumps entirely too deep into the other end of that scale and suggests they have a baby instead. Perhaps this is Rebecca’s friends showing themselves to be just as impulsive as she. If only the characters in the show appreciated Darryl’s character more at this point, Rebecca would have someone else to turn to here. Either way, Darryl and WhiJo should have ended up together, and sadly this was the beginning of the end for them, too.