First things first, Crazy Ex-girlfriend is a musical romcom unlike anything ever seen before. It’s the kind of thing the South Park creators would have written if they were funny women.
It’s dark, inappropriate, and hilarious. From its occasionally big, over-the-top storylines and performances – who hasn’t quit their job and moved to a small town in order to stalk their ex? – to its significance of the insignificant, Seinfeldian-style humour, like what happens when you send a text to the wrong person, and differing opinions on period sex.
Rachel Bloom as Rebecca Bunch, the craziest of exes, heads up an ensemble cast of mostly breakout actors with booming voices who give solid performances as Rebecca’s friends, colleagues, and love interests. Their characters are complex, multilayered and flawed. Just as you think you’ve worked them out, they do something surprising, just like real people.
Don’t be fooled by all the bright colours and dancing in the streets, the colour palette is like a metaphor for what people present to the outside world, the songs are expressions of truth.
Borrowing from every kind of musical entertainment there is, they’re big operatic performances about topics like self-loathing (‘You Stupid Bitch’), the pains a woman must go to when getting ready for a date (‘The Sexy Getting Ready Song’), and the pride a man can feel at having given a woman a sex-related UTI (‘I Gave You a UTI’).
This is no Glee.
Josh, the ex-boyfriend that Rebecca is chasing is Filipino-American, Josh’s best friend Greg is Italian, his girlfriend is Latina, Rebecca’s friend Heather is mixed race, Rebecca is Jewish, the list goes on. But diversity isn’t made an issue of, these characters are just people living their lives in the same way ethnically diverse people in the real world just live their lives.
Rebecca skipping off to therapy sessions and struggling with anxiety and depression is just one of the many ways – sometimes hilarious, sometimes frightening – that mental health issues are portrayed in this show.
She’s not alone in her struggles, several characters are dealing with some form of addiction. In Rebecca’s case, an addiction to fairy-tale concoctions of love that have caused widespread unrealistic expectations of what love is.
People finding themselves in love with the idea of something, to the point where they can’t see the idea might be wrong for them, if it exists at all, lies at the show’s heart. These characters are all lying to themselves about something, and it’s seeing how much suffering those lies can cause that makes this show as tragic as it is funny. And wholly relatable.