By Anna Carey
This past Friday, one of last year’s best new shows, The CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” returned for its second season. The musical comedy revolves around former New York City lawyer Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) who moves to small town West Covina, California after running into her childhood summer camp boyfriend, Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III).
Josh reminds Rebecca of happier and simpler times, so when he tells her his plans to head back home, Rebecca decides she wants to follow him there. Rebecca spends much of the first season convincing her friends (and herself) that she did not move across the country and leave behind a coveted law firm partnership because she still loves Josh, though she eventually realizes that is exactly why she left New York. A number of Rebecca’s new friends and neighbors accuse her of being a crazy ex-girlfriend who is obsessed with Josh, hence the show’s title.
The show features original songs in every episode. The characters break into song much like in musical theater: during a dramatic moment, an emotional realization or humorous scene. My personal favorites are “Settle for Me,” “I Have Friends” and “I’m a Good Person.” Santino Fontana performs “Settle for Me” as Greg, a bartender who wants to date Rebecca and attempts to get her to “settle” for him instead of Josh, his best friend. Bloom and Ava Acres, who plays a young Rebecca, perform “I Have Friends” while insisting that they have enough friends to invite over for a party, despite only being able to list coworkers, acquaintances and assorted misfits. Rebecca sings the ironic “I’m a Good Person” to Greg when trying to prove to both him and herself that she is good, even though she goes around threatening people to say she is as kind as she thinks she is.
Bloom is the creator, writer and star of the show. Before her hit show, she released musical comedy songs and videos, along with writing for television shows “Robot Chicken” and “Allen Gregory.” Alongside Bloom as writer and creator is Aline Brosh McKenna, who is best known as the screenwriter of The Devil Wears Prada and 27 Dresses. This past year Bloom won a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series Comedy or Musical and a Critic’s Choice Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Rebecca, demonstrating the show’s critical acclaim.
While “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” could have revolved around stereotypes and tropes of how women supposedly act insane after a breakup, the show quickly acknowledges that it will not fall into these traps. In the season one theme song, Rebecca points out that “crazy ex-girlfriend” is a sexist term. In addition to misogyny and feminism, the show delves into other serious content like mental health issues, sexuality and marital troubles. Rebecca has both anxiety and depression, which contribute to her decision to move to California to get away from the stresses of a high-profile law career. Her new boss, Darryl, tries to figure out his sexual orientation in the wake of his recent divorce from his wife. Paula, Rebecca’s best friend and coworker, comes to harsh realizations about her loveless marriage while helping Rebecca win over her true love. The relationships between the characters manage to feel complicated and real, in spite of the over-exaggerated musical numbers.
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is the perfect combination of comedy, drama and musical numbers. If you are looking for your new favorite show, all of season one is currently on Netflix and season two just premiered last week, so there is only one episode to catch up on.
Until next Friday, you can listen to the soundtrack on Spotify or watch the musical numbers on Bloom’s YouTube channel.