Written By: Lynsey MacDonald
When the new CW show Crazy Ex Girlfriend first arrived on Netflix a couple of months ago, I didn’t immediately click play on the first episode. Granted, that was partly because I was in the midst of an iZombie binge session. It was also partly because I hadn’t heard much about the show. A few of my fellow TV-addict friends had been talking about it. That was until a couple of weeks ago when a friend recommended it to me over dinner, telling me she’d watched the first few episodes and fallen in love.
Suffice to say, I soon followed.
Crazy Ex Girlfriend is a musical comedy show following the life of Rebecca Bunch; a twenty-eight year old Harvard and Yale graduate and New York lawyer. She is played to perfection by show creator Rachel Bloom. In the pilot episode, we meet a hard-working but clearly unhappy woman who is still consumed by a teenage romance. Despite her academic successes, fails to live her best life.
In a serendipitous moment, Rebecca bumps into her old summer camp boyfriend Josh Chan. He tells her that he’s moving back to his wonderful hometown, West Covina, California. A matter of hours later, Rebecca makes the impulsive decision. She ditches the high-flying job in the big city, packs her bags and starts a new life in West Covina. Cue a new job, some hilarious new friends and an emotional roller coaster when it comes to her love life.
That, in short, is how the story begins;
But the brief synopsis does not do justice to how fantastic this show is. The format is fresh and fun for TV. The characters break out into song and return to normality without so much as a nod. Also the songs are catchy and as clever as the rest of the writing.
While the overriding tone of the show is comedic, it doesn’t shy away from dealing with some pretty serious issues. The show explores mental illness in the form of Rebecca’s anxiety and depression. It touches the complexities of family relationships, and the all too familiar difficulty of trying to make new friends as an adult. It tackles these issues in what is a realistic, heartwarming (and sometimes heartbreaking) way. The musical numbers often serve as a useful way of exploring a character’s thoughts and feelings at times they aren’t brave enough to actually talk about them.
Rebecca is a layered and complex character.
She is incredibly intelligent, but riddled with insecurities. This combination gives her a sort of social anxiety that makes her incredibly relatable. She makes some serious mistakes and she’s flawed, but she has a real vulnerability about her. This makes her moments of victory and success all the more satisfying.
The show also has some great feminist moments.
Many of the songs examine the societal double standards and pressures women face daily. Sexy Getting Ready Song and Put Yourself First are two of my absolute favourites. Throw in some of the clever comments it makes on racial and cultural issues, and it’s clear to see why people rave about this show.
There are a lot of things I love about My Crazy Ex Girlfriend. It has the musical comedy of Flight of the Conchords mixed with the colour and charm of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Combined with the potential for the sort of friendships and relationships of (and I’m being bold here) Parks and Recreation. So far (and I’m only ten episodes in at this point), it is setting up both friendships and romantic relationships beautifully.
The show has me really rooting for the characters’ happiness already.
I desperately want Rebecca to find confidence in herself, make good friends, and find real love. The fact that Rachel Bloom has me feeling this way after just a couple of episodes is always a good sign. I’ve also fallen head over heels in love with Greg, Paula and Darryl – you’ll find out why as soon as you watch it, I’m sure.
So if you’re currently sifting through the many, many shows on Netflix and wondering which one you should devote your next free evening to, I’d definitely recommend Crazy Ex Girlfriend. It takes a couple of episodes to get going and to get used to the format, so don’t give up after the pilot. If you give it a chance, I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do.
P.S: I apologise in advance – the theme tune will very soon be stuck in your head on a loop.