Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is AWESOME!
I’ve spent a lot of time recently streaming the first three seasons of The CW's "Crazy Ex Girlfriend" on Netflix. This show hit me like an emotional train during the course of its exploration of what our behavior tells us about ourselves.
It’s a hard show to explain to someone that hasn’t seen it. This should help.
For some reason, I find trying to get men to watch it is a lot more work. There is some irony in this. The term “Crazy Ex Girlfriend” certainly was invented by a man that wanted to dismiss a woman feeling hurt by rejection and abandonment. It’s a mean term to label a person. That’s the point.
We all know the character and the story. Think Fatal Attraction. A woman likes a guy and starts to pursue him. At first, he returns some interest so they hook up. But then after getting to know her and seeing things that bother him, he tells her he’s no longer interested. This sets the girl off for revenge and putting multiple lives in jeopardy as a result. The Hollywood version usually ends with "the crazy ex-girlfriend" getting killed in the climax of the movie and that's where the story ends.
This show asks the more interesting questions we don’t consider when slapping on the pejorative crazy label. What if this Crazy Ex Girlfriend is actually a complex human being aware that what she is doing is wrong? What if she wants to change? What would get her to the point of asking for help? That is the premise of this show.
The show is hyper aware of its place in the real world. When searching YouTube for the title of the show, many real people come up. iPhone videos of women screaming in public start to slip into search results reminding us of those being analyzed by the premise. The show isn’t judging these women or dismissing them. It’s exploring them in a comedic, musical and above all honest way. The show constantly deconstructs stereotypes down to a brutal, yet empathetic truth. That’s what it screams at you from the second you start watching it above all else.
This show will be described as ahead of it time due to poor ratings. TV is still catching up to where its thinking is. Inventive television started on HBO, but exploded with Showtime’s Dexter. There we had a downright serial killer as the protagonist of a show. If serial killers were ever explored as characters before, they certainly were the villain of the piece or seen in documentaries. To build a show around such a character and make audiences care about them was a radical idea. It worked and gave great entertainment and ratings. The basic understanding of what audiences would accept was broken.
Unsurprisingly, it was Showtime that commissioned the first episode of Crazy Ex Girlfriend as a new series before the show got dumped by every network. A musical hour long sitcom exploring a cliché character is a pretty hard thing to advertise. But luckily, network television is now taking more risks and trying to catch up to cable with more inventive premises (NBC’s The Good Place for example– a sitcom that takes place in the afterlife).
In full disclosure, Crazy Ex Girlfriend has become my favorite show on television, but don’t just take my word for it. It is an extremely critically acclaimed show. Rotten Tomatoes has rated each season over 95% – the second of which was given a perfect score. The star and co-creator of the show Rachel Bloom won The Golden Globe for best Actress in a Comedy Series in its first year defeating Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jamie Lee Curtis and Lily Tomlin. The rest of the cast consists of many well-known stars from Broadway including Santino Fontana (Hans from Frozen) and Donna Lynne Champlin. It is a ground-breaking and recognized show.
You don’t have to relate to The Crazy Ex Girlfriend trope to enjoy its narrative, but you probably do more than you’d like to admit. We all feel emotions and fear being labeled crazy for letting others see them. We all lie to ourselves and others about how we are doing. We all try to navigate our inner self and the masks we wear with others in our life.
Crazy Ex Girlfriend starts its fourth and sadly final season on The CW on October 12th at 9/8c.