About Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
To cope with your mental illness, might I suggest jazz hands?
At least, that’s the strategy of Rebecca Bunch, who frequently bursts into song as the titular “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” in the CW’s musical satirical rom-com. The fourth and final season premieres Friday, October 12. Rebecca taps, she tangoes, she shimmies in her Spanx. There are enough sequins to satisfy the most ravenous Broadway enthusiast.
At the same time, she’s raunchy, raw, and struggling with some of the darkest ailments the human psyche can produce. Rebecca has depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder – and they lead her down paths range from zany to bizarre to criminal. In the first episode, she follows her ex-boyfriend Josh across the country, leaving a high-paying New York job as a lawyer to go to West Covina, California (only 2 hours from the beach!).
There she makes friends with Josh’s sarcastic bartender friend Greg and a motley crew of employees from her new, sub-standard law office. She also finds an enemy in Josh’s slinky yoga teacher girlfriend, Valencia.
And yes, they all sing and dance too, and thank goodness for that. The musical numbers are unlike anything else on TV – full not only of production value but also cunning commentary. “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” has a lot to say about subverting tropes, like the “Sexy Getting Ready Song,” which sounds and looks like a pop video but adds in gross shots of Rebecca plucking and waxing her bloody way into beauty.
The songs are geeky, too, like “The Math of Love Triangles,” in she compares her own love triangle to a math lesson. A line up of tuxedoed men sing to her in a shiny blue gown:
“Let’s take a look at what this line bisects,” to which she says, “Is that spelled BI-SEX?”
Then again, you can sit back and enjoy the sheer silliness of the delightfully-wrong puns in “We tapped that ass,” when Rebecca’s ex’s come together and tap dance. Clever lyrics abound, so much so Rebecca Bunch can come off as a feminist Weird Al.
But as fantastical as its brilliant musical numbers are, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” treads remarkably often into harsh reality. One character is an alcoholic, one has an abortion, another tries to commit suicide. The show earns these moments by taking a deep dive into who these characters are, what brought them to this point, and how they will recover.
A razor-sharp wit and strong joke density keep it all from getting too melodramatic – and the poop jokes help too, of course. “Crazy Ex” is never above singing about body functions – from a number dedicated to the agony of constipation to the elation of discovering “My sperm is healthy.”
Fortunately, you do not need cable to sing along (which you’ll do many, many times.)
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