Season four of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” will be the last season of the show. (Photo courtesy of CBS Television Distribution)
On October 12, 2015, The CW premiered the first episode of their new romantic musical comedy, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” By the end of its first season, it was the least watched show not only on the channel, but on the entirety of broadcast television. Despite this, it was nominated for, and went on to win, multiple Emmy Awards for editing and choreography as well as a Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy series. Hoping that these awards would turn the fate for the series, the show was renewed for a second season despite its lack of success. Season two only slipped further, remaining the least watched show on broadcast television. However, it defied the odds and was renewed for a third season, and then a fourth, which just began a few weeks ago.
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” follows the life of Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), a lawyer at a major firm in New York who suddenly decides to uproot her life and move to California after running into a summer camp crush from 10 years ago in an attempt to win him over. With this title and premise, it is not particularly hard to begin to understand this show’s initial lack of success. It sounds incredibly generic and fluffy, like a soap opera from past eras. In promoting the show, however, the show runner’s held their cards close, hiding what it was truly about.
Upon moving to California, Rebecca Bunch begins to lie, manipulate and do basically anything to win over her love, Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III). In doing so, the show begins to reveal the actual premise. As is referenced near the end of the third season, the show never really is about Josh Chan. In reality, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is about Rebecca’s multiple mental illnesses and how she attempts to live with them. This is a slow reveal as the series goes along, but an extremely satisfying one to witness. Over a very short amount of time, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” changed from the most generic-premised show imaginable to an essential story that is not being told anywhere else on television.
Often times, when shows depict mental illness, it is done discreetly or in side plots. Not many shows take a head-on approach with its main character as a running theme throughout the series like “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” does. Additionally, many shows tend to skirt around the heavier aspects or handle them distastefully, especially in regards to suicide or suicide attempts, but this show covers all of its bases in both addressing these topics in a realistic way and properly addressing all of the fallouts. Rebecca does not just experience these issues in a plot line that is wrapped up neatly by the end of the 45 minutes; she constantly has plot lines that deal with her therapy, medication and her family’s responses.
Now, when reading about a show that sounds this blatantly heavy, it may come as surprising to some that it is also a musical. However, this is not a musical in the traditional sense, where characters are springing to song and dance every other second as a way to progress the plot. There are usually about two to four songs of a length around three minutes that traditionally serve as a punchline. Even for someone who does not inherently like musicals, there is something to love for anyone who enjoys musical punchlines. Many of these songs also tend to highly satirize the characters’ actions or current situations, serving those who appreciate meta jokes especially well.
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is a must-watch television show for a variety of reasons. It is hilarious, heartbreaking, satirical, insightful and just about everything that a viewer could want in a television show. The fact that it has managed to fly so far under the radar on the television landscape is, while understandable, extremely disappointing.