Only ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ Could Give White Josh Such A Sentimental And Substantial Journey
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is all about self-improvement — but the biggest changes that came in the musical show’s (excellent) third season weren’t always via the show’s main character Rebecca (Rachel Bloom), even though she did make some big strides. Lurking quietly in the background of season three was another character’s emotional journey that many viewers didn’t see coming: that of White Josh.
This season, the character played by David Hull, had to a) accept and say out loud that he actually has no interest in having kids which b) broke the heart of his boyfriend Darryl (Pete Gardner) and c) led to the relationship’s inevitable yet emotional demise. It was the kind of breakup we all saw coming, and yet it played out in a way that was rather subdued, too hard for the words, “I’m breaking up with you!” to even really be uttered so bluntly, and yet the result was two super bummed out dudes.
That they devoted such a touching journey to a supporting character only proves how much Crazy Ex-Girlfriend values all of its players, and has a bigger picture in mind for where they will go. There’s a care shown towards the people that cross paths with Rebecca, and it’s not just considerate, it’s also comedic.
“We talked about how White Josh and Darryl had become this cutesy, sort of unrealistically perfect little couple,” Hull told Decider. “And so it would be fun to explore some of the more realistic sides of what a relationship between two people who are in much different life place and who are socially a lot different and in every basic way sort of incompatible on paper, to see what that looks like over the course of the season.”
The breakup didn’t actually happen until halfway through Season 3, but when it did, it was surprisingly devastating. In fact, it was the understated nature of the scene that made it as moving as it proved to be. It also, in the best interest of the show, gave White Josh and Darryl the opportunity to still be in each other’s presence without loads of drama.
“There never felt like any animosity, it never felt like a forceful ending,” recalled Hull. “It felt like two people who are on divergent paths and in very different life places acknowledging that this is going be a tricky terrain to navigate.”
This also contrasted nicely with the other characters on the show, who are often dealing with their problems in an over-the-top, cartoonish manner — you know, the one that makes us love the show so much. On the other hand, you have White Josh and Darryl, who are dealing with their break-up in, “a really responsible, grown up way.” Okay, we did love that way of doing things too, for those guys specifically.
The breakup’s catalyst? Darryl wants to have a child; Josh doesn’t. It forces other issues in the relationship to the forefront, and ultimately leads to a guy who has otherwise been a sarcastic, reasonable, chill bro on the show, and even the voice of reason at times, if one is able to exist in this world, to experiment in the wild world of singledom. Talking to Crazy-Ex showrunner Aline Brosh McKenna, she noted that one of the main, defining characteristics of White Josh is that he loves passing judgement on others. The breakup allowed viewers to see what happens when this typically composed guy starts to unravel.
“Darryl deals with the break up better or more maturely than White Josh,” Brosh McKenna said, adding that his ex-partner’s reaction causes the latter to go “on a bit of a walkabout.”
Or really, a danceabout, but we’ll get to that. Taking White Josh out of Darryl’s orbit also allowed him to interact with other characters in new and refreshing ways — ones that the show’s creators used to help push White Josh on his journey.
We didn’t see it coming, but we’re sure happy it did, and that was the pairing of White Josh, and Rebecca’s ex, Nathaniel (Scott Michael Foster).”They’re both workout obsessed, fitness obsessed,” McKenna offered. “They were both dealing with romantic rejection and it seems fun to have them in a different setting than in before.
“One of the things that’s fun about the show is how Rebecca connects people in unexpected ways. Also, White Josh and Rebecca have never gotten along very well, so the idea was that in a time when Nathaniel is trying to get over her, that he would reach for someone who doesn’t like her very much.”
Which brings us to the two hot, ripped single dudes hitting the town together with a lot in common, including their participation in said danceabout, when the show’s in-shape bros cry through a song titled “Fit Hot Guys Have Problems Too.”
The performance as a whole is thoroughly LOL-worthy, and like most songs on the show takes genre-specific tropes and turns them on their head: the guys strip and dance and cry. But there was a little behind the scenes trope flipping, too. Seeing how obsessed Foster and Vincent Rodriguez III (who also features in the song) got with eating right and working out to be in shape for the shirtless scenes, co-star Vella Lovell (who plays Heather on the show) brought up a pretty salient point.
“Vella was like, ‘So now you know how women always feel,'” Hull recalled, “and I was like, ‘Very good point, that is not lost on me.'”
Nathaniel can’t quite fully heal White Josh’s broken heart, so he turns from his new best friend to man’s best friend — picking up a puppy that Rodriguez’s Josh insists on calling “Dog Josh.” Where most of White Josh’s other plot points were carefully planned out parts of his emotional journey, Dog Josh was the result of simply spending time with Rachel Bloom.
“Rachel has a dog and I’m a huge dog person,” Hull noted. “Every time I’m at her house I mostly just hang out with her dog… I remember on a break I was at her house and at one point she was like, ‘Oh my god we’re giving you a dog next season.’ I thought for sure that was gonna fall through, [but] they followed through on that.”
They not only followed through, but they put a lot of thought into it.
“We were really looking for dogs like looked like David and Vinny,” McKenna said. “Tom, our prop master, brought us like four or five dogs, that sort of snub-nosed quality. That was the dog we found.”
Dog Josh was hardly the final adorable moment of the season. After Heather — who became the surrogate for Darryl’s baby after Darryl and Josh break up — gives birth, White Josh turns up at the hospital for a moment that serves as a culmination of the character’s emotional journey this season. But the way we saw White Josh holding Darryl’s new baby played out differently on-screen than planned. In the original version of the episode, White Josh had been sitting in the waiting room after a text exchange with Heather, something the team ended up cutting in order to make his reconciliation with Darryl “a bit more surprising,” Hull explained.
And yet, in true Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fashion, one of the most sentimental scenes for viewers was actually quite scary for the cast members involved due to a very, very expensive prop on hand in the form of the new baby. The “horrifyingly creepy” prop that McKenna noted is named Dana and cost $15,000 to rent, disturbed the cast so much that, “I reswaddled it myself so that you couldn’t really see its face too much. We just embraced the fakeness of it.” [To see an up-close picture of Dana, check out this great Vulture piece about filming the season three finale]
“I don’t know how any of us got through any of those scenes because as soon as they called cut we’d all be like, ‘Ahhh it’s staring into my soul get it out of here!'” Hull recalled.
The Season 3 finale does a nice job of bringing a bit of closure to Daryl and White Josh’s relationship, setting them up not just exes, but even future friends. And given that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has always been planned as a four-season show — the fourth and final pick up from The CW has yet to come, though McKenna confirmed that four seasons is still the plan — there’s still more room for White Josh to grow.
The actor, who has also appeared as the token white boy on Insecure, describes feeling “So taken care of from a writing side,” and is pleasantly surprised by all of the “layers and all of these twists and turns,” that playing White Josh has afforded him and his character — which ultimately is a credit to Hull himself.
“[White Josh] really started out being like Josh’s beefcake-y sidekick,” McKenna noted. “The reason he became a bigger character is because of David and how interesting he is as an actor and all the things he brings to it… We always write towards the actors, so David really found all these other aspects to White Josh. And then when we put him together with Pete, there was just some sort of magical thing that happened when we followed that path.”
“He’s already been through a lot and has already questioned a lot of the assumptions that he had about his life… So I think that will continue.” Hundo P.