July 14th, 2017
|10:16 am - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend? More Like Lazy Sex Curl, Friend!|
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend may be one of the most brilliant, revolutionary, important, yet criminally underrated shows in the history of television, and I am only being partly hyperbolic here because wow. The brainchild of Rachel Bloom of "Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury" fame and Aline Brosh McKenna of The Devil Wears Prada fame (and as much as Rachel Bloom is the public face of the show, it's important to remember they're equal partners in this endeavor), with musical assistance by Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne fame, this show will sing and dance its way into your heart and then fuck with your brain.
Rachel Bloom plays Rebecca Bunch, a well-educated, high-powered New York lawyer with clear mental health issues (our first real look at her is stark and pained). On the same day she's offered a big promotion, she runs into Josh Chan, with whom she had a summer camp romance as a teenager (making her an ex-girlfriend), and then...quits her job and follows him to his hometown of West Covina, California (making her crazy). If you think about it, though, this kind of wild, spontaneous act is the core of so many romantic comedies, but here it's portrayed as A Very Bad Idea That Everyone But the Protagonist Realizes Is a Bad Idea, and that's what makes this show tick.
Once in West Covina, Rebecca makes it her mission to win back Josh, even though he's been dating the same woman for years. Aiding her in this mission is her co-worker Paula, who is the enablingest enabler who ever enabled. Studying her is her neighbor Heather, whose dry, Daria-esque demeanor cannot be penetrated by Rebecca's boisterous delusions. Employing her is her boss Darryl, who wants to be everyone's best friend. But hold up, there's a wrinkle in the form of Josh's friend Greg, who instantly falls for Rebecca himself. Shenanigans will ensue. Oh will they ever.
On the surface, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend looks like a typical romantic comedy, but as it cleverly leans into all your favorite (or least favorite) tropes, it's slyly planning to subvert them hard. This show systematically deconstructs everything popular culture has told us about love and relationships, implicitly criticizing them simply by playing them straight and explicitly criticizing them in both dialogue and song. It's an aggressive assault on the expected narrative, and it doesn't stop at rom-com tropes. It addresses various "taboo" topics like periods, UTIs, abortions, and such (so by taboo I mean female) candidly, as if...as if they are just parts of everyday life for women and we shouldn't constantly avoid talking about them. Despite the focus on a heterosexual romance, the show has prominent, non-tragic queer characters and eventually leans in hard on the side of female friendships. Where most shows would zig, it refreshingly zags. Plus the love interest is Filipino-American, there are a couple women of color, and all of these various characters get focus. They have their own stories, they are their own beautiful, rich, complex people. (They are also kind of awful people much of the time, but the show recognizes their awfulness and both has enough heart to sympathize with them despite their bad choices and allows them to grow.)
Oh, right, it's also a musical with amazing songs that span musical genres from country to hardcore punk, with a healthy dose of traditional musical theater in the middle. As in any good musical, the songs drive the narrative and illuminate character, and they're catchy as fuck. Each one functions as a cute parody of something you're familiar with while also being a great example of that thing, with hilarious lyrics about texting or ping pong.
I could write so much more about why Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is incredible, but it's even better to experience it for yourself and let it continue to surprise you with its dedication to callbacks and skillful episodic plotting, not to mention some of the best tags since Community. It's smart as hell and also fun, whose realistic darkness never drowns out its whimsical silliness. It's not every day I encounter a show that constantly makes me think "How is this a real show, how was this allowed to happen?" Also the cast is uniformly wonderful. The characters drink a lot of boba tea. There's some great metahumor. One of the writers is a Patel and named a character Sunil. Okay I'll stop now.
Current Mood: impressed
Current Music: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - The Math of Love Triangles