Appearances can be deceiving and for the show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend that deception begins with the title. At first glance it would be easy to assume that the show is about an irrational woman driven by an obsession with an old flame and while elements of that are certainly there what you actually get is a vastly intelligent, funny and insightful show that isn’t afraid to address issues head on.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend follows the story of Rebecca Bunch, played by Rachel Bloom a co-creator of the show, who is a wonderful mess of contradictions in a way that makes her character all the more real. She’s a high flying lawyer who makes terrible decisions, a driven and motivated woman who also revolves her own personal life around the men in it and to top it off she’s hilariously funny and relatable while also dealing with a whole plethora of mental health issues. It is easy to write her off as a mess but as the show progresses you soon realise that you don’t know the half of it.
Part of what makes Crazy Ex-Girlfriend such a pleasure to watch is the seamless incorporation of musical interludes that come courtesy of Rebecca’s subconscious to help her to understand the world and, in turn, help us to understand her. It is in this aspect that the element of comedy really comes out to play. Bloom has never been one to shy away from controversial and dark topics as shown by the trail of comedic YouTube videos that she has to her name. This has translated into the show in the form of parodies and imitations of well known songs and genres, all designed to not only be funny but to get across important messages.
Perhaps the best way to describe the upfront honesty and hilarity of the show is to detail a few examples. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend critiques modern feminism in the song ‘Put Yourself First For Him’ in which a Fifth Harmony style girl group details how they want to be sexy and alluring for themselves, with the ultimate goal of men finding them attractive. A parody of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ begins with the line, “unfortunately I want to have sex with you.” A favourite for many is the old black and white Hollywood number called ‘Settle For Me’ with lines such as, “I have no problem being picked out from the bottom, if he’s your broken condom, I’m plan B!”
The writers are effectively using humour that is accessible and relatable to younger age demographics to broach important subjects. Topics touched upon in the show include alcoholism, unhealthy relationships, LGBTQ+ characters and coming out as well as the underlying theme of mental health awareness. Rebecca talks candidly of her poor mental health in a refreshing and sometimes painful way, such as in the song addressing herself called ‘You Stupid Bitch’.
Upon first watching, it may take a few episodes to warm to its unique style but it is well worth sticking with as you will be rewarded by a diverse, complicated, self-aware and compelling show that will have you laughing one minute and genuinely worried about a character’s mental health the next. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, available on Netflix, achieves something that few programmes nowadays can do successfully, it explores relevant and interesting issues using comedy and intelligence while wrapping it all up nicely in a song.