5 Reasons to Watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I adore this show, but for whatever reason, I have a really hard time selling Crazy Ex-Girlfriend to people. The premise of the show is pretty stupid: hotshot New York Lawyer Rebecca Bunch moves to the shitty California town of West Covina to pursue the boy who broke her heart at summer camp when she was seventeen. And it’s a musical.

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But it’s also a frank look at mental illness, feminism and romcom culture; it deconstructs the idea that a relationship is the solution to all problems. And it’s a musical.

It’s a fantastic show. Let’s talk about some of the reasons why.

  1. The songs

So far so obvious, but the songs in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are hilarious and catchy while also functioning as vehicles through which to communicate greater emotional truths. So in the second episode when Rebecca meets Josh (the guy she moved to West Covina for’s) girlfriend, Valencia, her song about her own superiority over Rebecca (featuring lines such as ‘I’m not afraid to get tattoos/and they are all in Sanskrit/butt stuff doesn’t hurt at all/most times I prefer it) ends with the line ‘my father didn’t leave me.’

It’s a funny song about how we compare ourselves to other women that reveals an important truth about Rebecca. Her dad abandoned her.

And it was the song that made me fall in love with the show.

  1. Bisexuality!

This is a minor spoiler (sorry not sorry), but one of the storylines half way through the first season sees Rebecca’s boss Darryl come out as bisexual. As we all know, representation of bisexual people is pretty much non-existent on most shows, and on the rare occasions we do see it portrayal is overwhelmingly negative. In Crazy Ex-Girlfriend we see a divorced man with a daughter heading into middle age realising that he’s attracted to men as well as women, going through the process of coming out and then having a happy, healthy relationship with a very cute guy. For a group so often marginalised even within the LGBTQ+ community, this storyline felt important.

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  1. Complex (like really really complex) women

There is a trope on a lot of shows of the perfect girl getting with the complicated, emotionally unavailable guy (Gossip Girl, New Girl, Veronica Mars, every teen movie from the 80s) that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend really turns on its head. Rebecca is the kind of girl to cause her therapist despair. She’s a woman trying to figure out how to make herself okay without really knowing how to go about doing that. And it doesn’t really matter whether she’s likeable or not during the process.

As someone who is sick of watching shows about women trying to ‘fix’ difficult men, I found this beyond refreshing.

  1. Diverse cast

Josh Chan, the romantic interest and male lead of the show is a first generation Filipino American man. Unless they’re John Cho, Asian men are generally typecast into very limited stereotypes and those generally don’t feature much in the way of romance or sex. Josh Chan turns that on its head by being basically the bro-iest bro in bro-town. He is a complex romantic interest with storylines (and issues! So many issues.) all of his own. In a world where seeing Aziz Ansari perform a sex scene is considered ground-breaking, characters like Josh Chan are so, so needed.

  1. Feminism

How can a show called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend be feminist? I hear you ask. In all sorts of ways, it turns out. Through the mediums of song and melodrama the show tackles everything from eating disorders to abortion from a very unique perspective. It is also puts a lot of energy into satirising ‘feminism’ as empowertising, with songs like Put Yourself First sung during a typical post-boy problem makeover. Sample lines include:

‘Put yourself first girl worry ‘bout yourself/make yourself sexy just for yourself/so when dudes we see you put yourself first/they’ll be like damn you’re hot/Wanna make out?’

 patriarchal bullshit

It’s a great and terribly underappreciated show. The first two seasons are on Netflix and they are working on a third as I type, so you’ve got plenty of time to catch up with the trials (because she’s a lawyer! It’s funny!) and tribulations of Rebecca Bunch before the third season begins.

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February Wrap-Up

I hope everybody had a good February. I worked and caught what feels like my hundredth cold of the winter.

My ipod classic finally died. RIP, ipod classic.

I started attending a spin class. And I love it! Who am I?!

I celebrated March 1st by sellotaping the four agreements to my (broken in an unfortunate incident) mirror. During February I started to think that becoming a better person was an active process. In addition to the four agreements, I stuck another post-it above my desk that says ‘my fuck budget is low’, a Katherine Ryan quote.

Apparently measurable person improvement begins with post-its.

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Also I reviewed books. This month they included:

Swing Time – Zadie Smith

The Wangs vs the World – Jade Chang

Blue Lily, Lily Blue – Maggie Stiefvater

Hope in the Dark – Rebecca Solnit

I also wrote:

Are Book Bloggers Becoming Censors? 

I think that a good discussion post provides an opportunity for your own mind to be changed, and I really appreciated some of the comments that people left on this one. They provided a perspective that I hadn’t considered, and I appreciated that.Thank you to everyone who participated in the conversation.

A Reading List (hastily complied, somewhat diverse)

OTHER THAN BOOKS: Some recommendations you didn’t ask for.

To Read: This article by Lena Dunham about dealing with her sexual assault. It’s about how after her assault she found it pretty much impossible to have any sort of sexual fantasy. It’s an emotional and difficult piece, and I loved it.

To Watch: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. It’s likely I will write more about this show after I’ve watched it all. I love it. I love it SO much. Often TV shows of this kind have a lead female character that I find alienating because of her lack of emotional damage (lol). Her role is so often to be the perfect solution for the emotionally damaged gentleman in her life (think New Girl). Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching it, but I come with far too many of my own weirdnesses to ever really relate to this role. Becca of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is much more on my level. It’s weird, but hearing the words ‘she’s so broken inssiiiiiiiide’ joyfully sung during the opening credits of the show makes me feel a little bit less alone in the universe. Thank you, Rachel Bloom.

To Listen: Marc Maron’s WTF interview with Trae Crowder, the liberal redneck. This conversation was an unexpected delight. I can’t recommend it enough. I didn’t know Crowder’s work before I listened, but I will certainly be looking into it in the future.