Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by the week’s new releases or premieres. This week: The debut of The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has us thinking about our favorite TV exes.
Enlightened, “Sandy” (season one, episode six; originally aired 11/14/2011)
Breaking up is hard to do, and it gets harder as the process goes along. As the pain and indignity of losing a lover and best friend begin to dissipate, the heartbroken must then come to grips with the fact that the boundaries of the relationship are fundamentally different. Once someone’s status changes from “current” to “ex,” they no longer have any obligation to put your needs before theirs. They can do whatever they want. They can watch your favorite show without you and post spoiler-packed Facebook updates before you get to see it. They can take new love interests to that fondue restaurant they wouldn’t even know about if you hadn’t introduced it to them. Perhaps worst of all, they’re allowed to have sex with other people, and they don’t have to make your feelings a primary consideration when choosing someone to do it with.
In “Sandy,” the sixth episode of HBO’s prematurely euthanized comedy Enlightened, Amy Jellicoe (Laura Dern) hasn’t quite gotten to the latter phases of grieving her divorce from Levi (Luke Wilson). Amy sees the best in Levi, just as she sees the best in everyone. This is mostly because she believes that by giving others the benefit of the doubt, she has initiated a binding social contract that affords her the same latitude. Amy gets a visit from Sandy (Robin Wright), a woman with whom she bonded when they were at the same Hawaiian psychiatric rehab facility, and she’s so blinded by Sandy’s free-spirited demeanor and new-age blather, she’s the last to see the disaster brewing when Sandy’s trip takes an unexpected turn. Amy’s skeptical mother Helen (Diane Ladd) is onto Sandy’s bullshit from the moment she arrives, and Helen demands that Amy find another lodging arrangement for her rehab bestie. Amy asks a put-upon Levi to let Sandy crash at his place while she’s in town, which seems like such a bad idea you half-expect to hear faint thunderclaps in the background.
Amy’s co-worker Tyler (writer/creator Mike White) basically has to smack her upside the head with a frying pan before she realizes the situation. She’s put two attractive people in the same space unsupervised, and she may have overestimated their sense of loyalty to her. The resulting anxiety causes Amy to behave, as she so often does, in ways that make her look like the villain even when her behavior is rooted in a reasonable emotional reaction. That is, to the extent that someone can be reasonable when it comes to an ex-lover’s sex life.
You never let go of an ex all at once. You do it little by little as it occurs to you that the expectations you had of a partner no longer apply to an ex-partner. “Sandy” is the story of a woman faced with the cold realization that her relationship with her ex-husband has deteriorated to the point that she can’t take for granted that he knows not to sleep with her girlfriend.
Availability: “Sandy” is available for streaming through Amazon Prime Video, HBO Go, and HBO Now. The episode is also available on DVD and for digital purchase through iTunes and Amazon.