Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has never been a show that pulls punches when it comes to flipping things on its head, and it did just that in “When Will Josh and His Friend Leave Me Alone?” when it surprised viewers with not one, but two major twists.
In the fourth episode of season two, Greg (Santino Fontana) left West Covina to finally attend Emory. This is it. Greg’s gone, Fontana has left the show. And that’s not all, at the end of the episode Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin) decided to have an abortion and continue to explore her lawyer career. Both twists have been in the cards for sometime, according to series co-creator and executive producer Aline Brosh McKenna.
“[Greg’s departure was] something we were always talking about doing because the love triangle was not really the intention of the piece…It’s about her search for happiness. We were following that line and our idea within that was that her pursuit of Josh cost her a lot of things, and this is sort of one of them,” Brosh McKenna told E! News in a phone interview.
West Covina, where the show takes place, is a sort of purgatory for a lot of people, Brosh McKenna said and writers always thought it was funny that “Rebecca [Rachel Bloom] chooses to go somewhere that a lot of people are trying to get out of.” And Greg was one of the primary people trying to escape the town.
“[Rebecca’s] arrival in town had a lot of unintended consequences, many of which she thinks are negative, but she did in her way force him to bottom out in a way he may not have without her. Somewhat ironically, him bottoming out, realizing all the issues he has had in his life allow him to get help, get into recovery and once he does that sort of all the artificial things that have been holding him back are not there anymore and he does get to move forward,” Brosh McKenna told us. “Even though it’s not what he would’ve asked for, it ends up being kind of traversely the thing that allows him to kind of transition out of purgatory into a better place.”
Fontana had been aware of the plans for Greg for sometime. Brosh McKenna said they worked with the actor on timing and what he wanted to do before he left. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was not meant to be a love triangle show.
“Shows with love triangles on them, you can get, I think, stuck in that. It’s sort of like that clip from…Austin Powers where he’s trying to turn around the cart in the hallway,” Brosh McKenna told us. “You can get stuck on a show with a triangle where you ping pong between two people…[Greg’s exit] allows us to move her out of it and focus on new relationships…For us it’s been a great opportunity for new stories, as much as we love Greg.”
It may not seem like a happy ending for Greg/Rebecca shippers, but it is one for Greg. “In the show, I totally understand fans loving him and wanting him to have a happy ending, and in our minds this is a happy ending for Greg. It just happens to not be an ending where he ends up in Rebecca’s arms,” she said. As for whether or not Fontana could return as Greg, Brosh McKenna isn’t ruling it out completely, however “that’s not our intention and it’s not where the story goes.”
“I think once having sent Greg to a better place we’re going to want to feel like he’s doing well. Obviously he hasn’t found every answer to his problems, he’s an addict so every day for him is going to be a day where he tries again, but we did want to sort of leave the audience feeling resolved about that and happy for him,” Brosh McKenna said.
As for the other twist, Paula’s decision to get an abortion, Brosh McKenna said that was always going to be the outcome of the pregnancy story, particularly because of Rebecca’s impact on Paula.
“As Paula ends up at this crossroads in her life—she’s been here before because she got pregnant by accident once before. Again, as someone who’s been affected greatly by Rebecca and Rebecca’s presence in town, how is she going to respond to this sort of crossroads? At first she’s just going to make the same decision she’s done before, but this time—it’s partly because a lot of Rebecca’s influence on people is inadvertent. And in this case she’s just asking Paula to pick up some work she doesn’t feel like doing because she’s busy trying to do an internet contest,” Brosh McKenna said. “Ironically, Paula, in doing that case, is sort of confirmation for herself that that’s where she belongs.”
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend airs Fridays, 9 p.m. on The CW.