It’s summer, which means that while there may be a few new TV shows out there that people are watching (I’ll get to season 2 of Mr. Robot eventually, I promise!), it’s generally a good time to play catch up. That is – find a show that was on during the year, one that you didn’t commit to early enough, and by the time it was critically acclaimed, there were too many episodes to try and get on board during the regular season. When those shows end up on Hulu or Netflix early in the summer after they aired – it’s your chance. You can see what all the hype is about before the second season comes along. And that’s exactly what I did with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I was looking for a new show to binge, and happened across this one, knowing it was supposed to be terrific, and that Rachel Bloom had won a Golden Globe. And that’s it. Rarely am I able to go into a show so fresh, and it was…refreshing?
So – what is this nuttily-titled show about? It’s the story of Rebecca Bloom, a high-flying young attorney in New York City who has a life that many would envy. But when she runs into her teenage camp boyfriend Josh on the street, she realizes how unhappy she really is and makes a rash move out to his hometown, where he has recently returned. Her career is smaller, her apartment is larger, and her goals are more tightly Josh focused.
This all sounds ridiculous. It sounds like the start of a stalker-movie plot, but it turns out, it’s not. Rebecca becomes more invested in her own life in West Covina, and while it may be Josh-centric, she’s got friends, and breathing room professionally. And on top of that, it turns out it’s a musical. That’s right – every 20 minutes or so into the hour-long show, there’s a song. The topics are ridiculous and varied, and always entertaining. If there’s a musical style out there, chances are that CE-G has parodied that style. A favorite of mine from towards the end of the season is the song “Heavy Boobs”, which don’t worry – works as a standalone piece that is spoiler-free.
How can you not laugh at that? Especially if you are a lady with boobs that cannot be described as small?
Everyone on the show is terrific. Paula (played by Donna Lynne Champlin) is the paralegal who in the first episode is Rachel’s nemesis, but becomes her best friend, and companion on the quest to win Josh back. That summary alone might be enough of a character for a lot of TV shows, but Paula is given depths – we see her at home with her family, and how her unhappiness there may be driving her to help Rachel become happy. It’ll be interesting to see how Paula evolves in the next season, as she has so much room to grow personally and professionally based on what we’ve been shown.
There’s also Greg (played by Santino Fontana) who is Josh’s best friend, and competitor for Rachel’s affections. He could just be written as this bland character who acts as stand-in before Rachel can be with Josh, but he is another secondary character with surprising depth. We learn about his own career ambitions, how he’s been self-sabotaging, and how he needs to look at his own personal situations with more nuance regarding his mother and the girl he dates after Rachel. That’s right – the second competitor for the main character’s love doesn’t just sit around and mope – he has a life and a girlfriend in Rachel’s neighbor Heather.
And while Rachel’s profession could very easily be glossed over, we get the chance to see a woman be awesome at her job. Not just good – totally boss. She takes on a case towards the end of the season, and just kicks all the ass. We also get a hilarious Les Misérables-style song because of it. Some of the other episodes show her in professional situations just dominating, but this final culmination of her professional lawyer skill which is a challenge is just so satisfying. It makes this girl who loves to see competent women doing interesting work on television happy.
I could go on and on. About how the show makes me laugh out loud. How it makes the Boy laugh when he overhears the songs and dialogue when he’s in the same room but not actively watching. How I spent hours googling Rachel Bloom after I finished the season. But I won’t. Instead I’ll leave you with the insanely catchy title song, and hope that you’ll get on the bandwagon now if you aren’t already.