In the tail end of 2015, a series prepped to grace our screens. With an off-putting title and a logline that seemed to turn away even the most open-minded of viewers, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend didn’t seem poised as a hit show, if anything, it seemed a dated thematic concept which would undoubtedly fail to run beyond one season. But upon release, in the old ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ fashion, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend burst itself onto the scene as a refreshing and cheeky take on a woman in her darkest moment trying to find a slice of happiness for herself.
The series thrives on its ability to subvert viewers expectations, turning everyday norms on their heads and working hard to redefine the historically restrictive female narrative.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend follows the story of Rebecca Bunch, a depressed Manhattan lawyer stuck in a dark moment in her life that she can’t escape. After running into her ex-boyfriend from summer camp, Josh Chan, on the street, Rebecca feels a moment of hope that convinces her to pack-up her bleak city lifestyle and follow her ex back to his sunny and slightly rundown hometown of West Covina, California.
Over the course of four brilliant seasons, the show refuses to shy away from what could be considered uncomfortable topics, seeming instead to lean into and embrace themes of mental health, feminism, friendship, relationships, parenting, queerness, and female sexuality.
Each season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend stands by itself as an act in a four-part play, with each season even featuring a new theme song that acts as an indicator of what will be the series’ thematic arc. And thematically, each series refuses to shy away from the gritty truth of what truly makes us human, diving into each and every characters story head-on with a healthy dose of open-mindedness and respect, as well as a wonderfully catchy song, in hand. As the series heads into its fourth and final season, it’s time to pay tribute to this series as well as the many instruments that make it unlike any other.
Regardless of anything, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend will always be remembered for the music. Often touted as the closest a television show has come to a Broadway play, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend used the opportunities music provides to further each character’s story in a way that was both wonderfully comedic and remarkably astute.
Songs of all different genres such as Feeling Kinda Naughty, You Stupid Bitch, Heavy Boobs, Love Kernals, and Let’s Generalize About Men, create a medium through which some of the greatest insights into the character can be gained all whilst still keeping with a comedic tone.
Music was and always will be at the heart and soul of the series, and you can relive all the songs now, as well as some never-before-seen explicit versions, on Rachel Bloom’s Youtube account.
Upon the move, Rebecca is met with an array of colourful characters such as her best friend, Paula Proctor; Josh’s high-school girlfriend, Valencia Perez; next door neighbour, Heather Davis; Josh’s best friend and drinking buddy, Greg Serrano; and her new eccentric boss, Daryl Whitefeather, of whom is tasked with a thoughtful and incredibly fun coming out storyline in the first season of which is highlighted with Gettin’ Bi, a song about bisexual pride that is sure to be played at most queer events. Each character is satisfyingly well rounded and each help in furthering Rebecca’s story while also fostering their own issues and problems audiences can identify with. From Paula’s trials in furthering her career to Daryl and his boyfriend’s struggle with becoming parents, the characters in the series widely differ in interests and hardship but always come together to support each other. Whether it be through the eventual girl-group formed by Rebecca, Valencia, Heather and Paula, or the team working together in the law offices of Mountaintop (formerly Whitefeather and Associates), the characters occupying the town of West Covina never fail to be there for each other even in the darkest of times (or as it’s also known, season three).
The Depiction of Mental Health
There’s a seamless nature to the way in which the series progresses in Rebecca’s story, specifically the journey of her mental health and treatment.
While many television series in the past have taken a more heightened, often incorrect route in portraying mental health, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend tackles the issue head-on with a grace and maturity often missing in mainstream media.
Rebecca’s struggle with her mental health, from her depression and anxiety to her eventual diagnosis of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), is treated in a real and empathetic manner. The series is committed to showing the real emotions and experiences someone with mental health issues goes through, with Rebecca attending therapy sessions and the music in the series providing a medium through which to explore her emotional hardships.
The Depiction of Female Sexuality
The bread and butter of the series, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend never avoids the topic of women and their sexual lives, often highlighting and celebrating this through songs such as Period Sex and Miracle Of Birth. While this topic is oftentimes used as a source of cringe comedy for the show, the characters themselves never make fun of it, and often have frank discussions with each other about their body and sexuality. There’s a sense of respect and triumph in their love of themselves and their bodies, and their attitudes stand as a welcome reminder that women shouldn’t be shamed for being proud of who they are.
Now airing its final season in the US and due for release on Netflix in mid-2019, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend continues to remain a wonderful and otherworldly series, whose distinct voice and musical stylings will be long remembered and truly missed. Credit where credit is due to the creators, Rachel Bloom (a Golden Globe winner for her portrayal of Rebecca) and Aline Brosh McKenna, for crafting a truly magical series that’s bound to leave audiences captivated for many years to come. Now as we grab our pretzels and take our seats for the final time, we’ll continue to be captivated and laughing out loud as Rebecca and the West Covina gang sing us out one last time.
The fourth and final season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is due mid-2019 on Netflix. You can currently stream seasons 1-3 now.
Also, please enjoy my personal favourite song from the series: Feeling Kinda Naughty. You’re welcome.