Ever since it premiered in October 2015 on The CW, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” has seemed like it was right on the cusp of breaking out and becoming a huge TV hit. While the ratings may not have yet caught up to the critical acclaim and fan support (a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes!), there are just so many reasons why “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is surprisingly hilarious.
First of all, it’s hard to describe to your friends what “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” actually is – is it a romantic comedy, a satire, a comedy-drama or a musical? Each episode seems to combine a little of each, and that’s what makes it so hard to classify. Do you watch it with your girl friends or your guy friends? Or both?
The core story, of course, is that a New York City lawyer (Rebecca Bunch, played by Rachel Bloom) has packed up and left her crazy, frenetic Manhattan lifestyle behind in order to follow her first teenage love (Josh Chan, played by Vincent Rodriguez III) to a California suburb. That explains the whole title – Rebecca is a little bit still strung out and some might refer to her as the “crazy ex-girlfriend.” But there’s a lot of layers here to peel back – the title is also a reference to how society tries to attach easy labels to women.
Some critics have called “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” a mash-up of “Broad City” and “Seinfeld,” but that probably doesn’t do the series real justice. There’s something about the star, Rachel Bloom, that’s so wonderfully eccentric. Just to give you an idea – before she signed up for “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” perhaps her biggest claim to fame was an award-winning video from 2010 called “F*** me, Ray Bradbury,” in which she fantasizes about having sex with the famous science fiction novelist. (WTF?)
This show is about more than young wayward girls trying to make it in a big city, as “Broad City” is. In fact, quite the opposite – it’s the story of an Ivy League-educated lawyer NOT trying to make it in the big city and pursuing romance instead.
And it’s about more than just little trivial events taking place in New York City, filled with amusing characters, as “Seinfeld” essentially was. The common joke about “Seinfeld” was that it was “a show about nothing.” Somehow, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” feels like more than that – it’s almost a social satire, or a biting social commentary about human relationships.
Part of what makes “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” so funny to watch are all the great musical numbers. It’s too easy to say that it’s just like “Glee,” because the songs in “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” are really more about pushing the plot forward and explaining the subtext of different scenes. Unlike “Glee,” the show is not about using pop culture or popular songs from the past to win over the audience.
In fact, many of the musical numbers (they’re not just songs!) seem like comedic sketches you might see on a show like “SNL.” There’s a bit of comedic bite to the musical routines that you just don’t see coming, and that’s what makes the show so hilarious. It’s also the reason why Rachel Bloom is now a Golden Globe winner for her work in the show.
For example, consider the “The Sexy Getting Ready Song” – it’s one of the best-known songs from the show and a music video of the song posted on YouTube by The CW has already picked up nearly 700,000 views. The song is at times sweet and charming, and at other times, raunchy and NSFW.
It basically takes the premise of a woman getting ready to go out on a date and turns it into a biting satire. The woman (Rachel Bloom) is plucking her eyebrows, shaving her legs, applying all kinds of creams and ointments, all while shimmying around in spandex and a silk robe. And then come all the comic moments –when there’s blood splattering everywhere when too much hair is taken off, or when the screen shifts to show “how the guys are getting ready” (a guy asleep on the couch in a t-shirt). There’s also a completely unexpected appearance by a rapper, who suddenly gives up in the middle of the rap, and basically says, “This is nasty. I’m out of here.”
And that’s what you get with most of the songs, some of them with NSFW titles, like “Let’s Have Intercourse.” And yet, they are just hilarious. It’s like taking a break from the sitcom (oops, comedy-drama!) just to watch a funny YouTube clip that someone sent you. In “Let’s Have Intercourse,” a handsome guy tells Rachel Bloom, “Fortunately, I want to have sex with you. I don’t know what’s happened… Maybe you’ve lost some weight?” It’s devastatingly funny and you can’t help laughing and cringing throughout the whole song – it’s like a brutally honest love song that’s gone off the rails.
When you watch a show like “Seinfeld,” you know what type of humor to expect – it’s stuff that Jerry Seinfeld would use in a stand-up comedy routine. When you watch “Broad City,” you also know what kind of humor to expect. But you just never know what to expect from “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” Part of that is by design – Rachel Bloom has pioneered a new form of musical comedy that’s unlike anything you’ve seen or heard before. And it’s crazy.
At times, the humor is whimsical, and at other times, it’s just plain grim. At times, the humor is slow and steady, and at other times, it’s fast-paced. At times, it’s almost conventional, and at other times, it’s edgy and risqué and just about any other adjective that basically amounts of DGAF.
And that DGAF attitude is why some people say that “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is really meant for something bigger than network TV. You can’t try to wedge it into a conventional TV time slot. The show is going to demand a different kind of audience than you’re going to get in primetime – more of a YouTube or Netflix audience.
The good news is that “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” has been renewed for a third season. You know what they say – the third time is a charm. We’ve started to fall in love with the comic genius of the show, and 2017 could be the year that “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” finally becomes the huge comic breakout hit that it deserves to be. Check out Crazy Ex Girlfriend on Netflix — all you need is a speedy web connection from XFINITY!