By GUY AOKI
My favorite show from last year, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” returned for its second season Friday night on the CW. In its first season, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom, who won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy Series) moved from a high-paying legal job in New York to stalk — uh… follow — her high school boyfriend Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III) to West Covina.
Throughout the inventive season, she denied making the cross-country trek just to be closer to Josh, even as she and her best friend from work Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin) schemed to get him back and out of the clutches of the vain Valencia (Gabrielle Ruiz). After many ups and downs, Josh broke off his engagement to Valencia and realized that he could no longer deny his feelings for Rebecca. They drove up to what looked like “Make Out Point” and uh… did it. With their clothes on (does the CW have more uptight broadcast and standards practices people than the other networks? I wanted to see some skin!).
Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III) gives Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) all she needs in the music video for “Love Kernels” on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”
After it was over, Rebecca admitted she moved to California for him and that now, “our love story can finally start.” Which made Josh raise his eyebrow wondering, “What?!”
This week’s episode picked up from there with Rebecca doing some double-talk to make Josh think he was the one who had that idea. They have three weeks of blissful sex until he realizes he feels guilty because his best friend Greg (Santino Fontana) had been in a relationship with Rebecca, and he couldn’t continue on without his blessing.
But Greg’s nowhere to be found. Eventually, Rebecca and Paula track him down to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Realizing Greg’s at too delicate a stage in his life to deal with her issue, she concludes that she and Josh should put their relationship on hold.
Josh comes over and is relieved to discover she feels the same way. Then they launch into a hilarious song, “We Should Definitely Not Have Sex Right Now,” with both of them looking at each other wondering if they really believe what they’re singing.
As the song progresses and they begin falling into old habits, they sing, “It feels so good to be having sex right now!” and ”What makes it so good is we just said, ‘We shouldn’t be having sex right now!’” Guess the censors weren’t paying attention here because whoa, the humping was quite aggressive.
Later, they’re both on the couch with Josh looking confused and Rachel appearing shell-shocked, wearing a “What did I just do?!” look on her face
Josh sings: “We should definitely not have sex again” with Rachel agreeing, repeating the line. But then Josh informs her that he can go again in ten minutes, and they’re back in bed. I laughed so hard.
The two other songs were kind of weak and the new theme song, “I’m Just a Girl in Love,” doesn’t compare to last season’s. Somehow, the episode itself didn’t have the same well-oiled groove I was used to experiencing in the first season. But this song was worth watching the entire episode for. Check it out here: www.cwtv.com/shows/crazy-ex-girlfriend/we-should-definitely-not-have-sex-right-now/?play=da749b3e-0e9f-478d-afab-bbae80d1602b
And after wanting to see these two together all year, it was nice to see them finally a couple. Of course, I’m sure the writers will introduce obstacles to keep everything from going too smoothly, but the unpredictable journey has always been hilarious.
What I love about this gem of a series is that despite focusing on an Asian American love interest, the show doesn’t back away from including more Asian Americans as co-workers, friends (cast member Vella Lovell is Asian Indian), priests, and Josh’s family. In fact, next week, Albert Tsai from “Dr. Ken” makes an appearance.
I was worried when the CW picked up CBS’ “Supergirl,” moved it into “Crazy Ex’s” Monday 8 p.m. slot, and bumped this comedy into the graveyard night, Fridays, at 9 p.m. “Crazy Ex” already had the lowest rating of any show on the five networks (a lowly .3 in the 18-49 age group), and it was lucky to have been renewed.
Now on the night when the smallest number of people watch television (next to Saturdays, which the networks have abandoned for years), I knew its ratings would only get worse. In fact, this premiere fell to a .2 and only 540,000 viewers overall. The CW is used to bottom-of-the-barrel ratings, but I hope they continue to champion this show.
The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and Dr.Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) duke it out.
Don’t Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is Department: Next week Friday on Nov. 4, Marvel Studios will release their latest superhero film, “Dr. Strange.” Whereas the original ’60s comic book featured not one but two Asian characters — the Ancient One, who helps the former surgeon develop his sorcery, and Wong, Strange’s “man servant” — director Scott Derrickson was going to leave out Wong. He only inserted him back in the story when they decided to cast Tilda Swinton as the old wise man.
Derrickson told The L.A. Daily News: “I was very committed to not bringing any of that to the screen at all. In the case of Wong, it was great because I could really reinvent that character. I could overturn all of the stereotypes and all the clichés of that character and give him a whole new life beyond the comics.”
Yeah, well, here’s a shocking revelation, Derrickson: You’re a writer. You could modify ANY problematic, outdated character and maintain its ethnicity, especially when it’s a minority to begin with. So the Ancient One was racist and stereotyped but letting a white woman play the part erases all that? No, it just erases an Asian character from the screen when there weren’t many prominent Asian characters in Marvel movies to begin with.
Swinton herself looked foolish trying to justify her casting, telling The South China Morning Post: “I really want people to see the film to understand why we were surprised by [the backlash], because it all felt a little like a misunderstanding about the film that we’ve made. It felt like we were slightly collateral damage [after people protested Scarlett Johansson playing a Japanese general in ‘Ghost in the Shell’].”
“A little misunderstanding?” How patronizing. The recipient of “collateral damage?” You poor, persecuted baby.
In Out Magazine the actress said: “The Ancient One in this film was never written as the bearded old Tibetan man portrayed in the comics.” So if the dated, stereotyped traits were taken out, then why not cast an Asian man in the part? You can’t have it both ways. Director and actress are talking out of both sides of their mouths.
“There is little for me to add except to say that anyone speaking up for a greater accuracy in the representation of the diversity of the world we live in has me right beside them,” she said. “As someone who has worked from the beginning as an artist within a queer aesthetic, the urgency of that voice is always going to be welcome.”
You just won’t do anything about it when it has to do with your movie? When it would involve giving back the part you accepted?
Look, every movie coming out of Marvel Studios has been a hit. I expect “Dr. Strange” to be its latest. But why don’t you support something more worthwhile at the box office that doesn’t white-wash us from the original source material just as we were in films like “21” and “The Martian?” Or simply find something else to do with your time? These people don’t deserve our money, let alone us accepting their ridiculous rationalizations.
Valerie Vale (Jamie Chung) and Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) on “Gotham.”
Holy Cliffhanger, Batman! Department: As I mentioned in a past column, Jamie Chung is recurring as the love interest of the future Commissioner Gordon (Ben McKenzie) on Fox’s “Gotham.” This Monday night, the Mad Hatter (Benedict Samuel) captured both Valerie Vale (Chung) and his past love Lee Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) and forced the former cop to decide whom he loved more.
Gordon drove the Hatter into a rage by asserting the true circumstances of his sister’s death, which is fueling his desire for revenge. He put a gun to Gordon’s head, and the psychologically damaged Gordon told him to kill him and not the women. Fool! Just snatch the gun away, kill him with it, then use the element of surprise to take out his two henchmen! But nooo… So Gordon had to decide who would live or die at the count of three — or the villain would kill both. And Gordon actually tells him, “Kill Lee.”
Instead, the Hatter, seeing that Gordon loves Vale more, shoots her in the stomach, then flees. The episode ended with Lee and Gordon waiting outside a hospital room awaiting Vale’s fate.
I have to say I’ve been impressed with Chung. I haven’t seen her in much before (she had a thankless, short role in the third “Hangover” film) but she definitely has charisma and confidence playing a reporter always egging her lover on to give her the information she seeks for a story. Will she survive? Tune in Monday night at 8 p.m. to find out.
’Til next time, keep your eyes and ears open.
Guy Aoki, co-founder of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, writes from Glendale. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.