The CW’s breakout hit romantic-comedy-musical Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has prided itself on being female-forward, and justifiably so. That being said, creator/star Rachel Bloom and showrunner Aline Brosh-McKenna take the time to make its male characters just as dynamic, fleshed out and gut-bustingly funny as fan favorites like Rebecca Bunch and Paula Proctor. Nowhere is this more evident than Pete Gardner’s bisexual, middle-aged goofball Darryl Whitefeather, and in tonight’s mid-season premiere, “Nathaniel Needs My Help!”, he once again proved his value as one of the show’s greatest scene stealers.
Fresh from his amicable breakup with White Josh over his desire to have a baby, Darryl spends the episode poring over a catalog (Paula helpfully calls it his ‘hooker book’) of potential egg donors for his sperm. Even divorced from his fan-favorite pairing with WiJo, Darryl’s committed to following his dream of fatherhood, a refreshing move for a show filled with people constantly questioning their destinies. For Darryl, his last great hurdle was coming out of the closet; once he started “Getting Bi,” Darryl has approached his life with a straightforwardness and dedication that the rest of the Rebecca bunch (see what I did there?) should admire.
In fact, this episode presents a perfect example of Darryl’s warmhearted openness and joie de vivre, in his momentary moment of crisis when Paula makes him question the strength of his sperm. “What if my guy stuff is bad?” he adorably pouts. Luckily, one test (and two magazines) later, his man-naise tests positive for an army of the little guys, leading to one of Darryl’s most gut-busting musical moments.
“My Sperm Is Healthy,” Darryl’s celebratory office humblebrag about his mighty swimmer count, is chirpy and addictive, with gut-busting rhymes like “Even though I’m no teenager/ my boys still throw a rager/ they got bottle service in every cervix/ blowing eggs up like a pager.” Completing the effect, Darryl dabs and dougies in a tight blue track suit, accompanied by a rapidly multiplying number of sperm backup dancers in one of the episode’s most absurd visual gags.
None of the majesty of Darryl’s infectious enthusiasm would be possible without the incredible comic instincts of Pete Gardner. With his glorious mustache, wide-eyed enthusiasm and herky-jerky physicality, Gardner plays Darryl with an unapologetic outgoingness that clashes wonderfully with the show’s cast of insecure oddballs.
In a sea of troubled souls, Darryl’s actually pretty well-adjusted, and Gardner’s impeccable ability to walk that line between awkward and heartwarming (like in “I Love My Daughter, But Not in a Creepy Way”) makes him one of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s most important emotional and comedic anchors.
Line of the Week: Lourdes falls asleep while Josh is mid-monologue about his modest life ambitions before meeting Rebecca. Upon waking, Lourdes comes back with the sickest of burns: “Sorry. Those are not real problems.”
MVP: Can we stay on Amy Hill for a second? As Lourdes, she gets to spit the perfect amount of acid, particularly in the karaoke-inspired ballad “Get the Hell Out of My House.”
George Won’t Be Ignored: Season 3 breakout character George’s response to Rebecca’s concern about not losing any weight when she was suicidal? “I like your very normal body. I think it’s brave.”
Up Next on TV Party: Tomorrow, we’ll spitball about Sunday’s Golden Globes. Look forward to speculation on how many steak dinners and photo ops TriStar had to arrange to get All the Money in the World nominated before most people even saw it. I hope Pia Zadora wins this year!