Hubbo and I don’t often binge TV together—long-arc drama just isn’t his thing. If we had vanity plates, his would read FACT, mine FICTION. But this summer, we convened on a nightly basis (one episode per day, strict limit) to consume Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
It’s four seasons long, and we put off watching the final episode for three days because we couldn’t quite imagine life without Rebecca Bunch in it.
Bonkers is the word that comes to mind when trying to describe this show. Brilliant is the other one. I’ve seen it called “a skewed take on romantic comedies.” “A compassionate, compelling exploration of mental illness.” “A full-fledged musical, veering across genres from R&B to country, as it integrates two to three original numbers into every hourlong episode.”
Netflix takes a stab at the premise of the series: “Still pining for Josh, the boy who dumped her ages ago, whip-smart lawyer Rebecca jettisons her New York life and moves to California to win him back.”
Therein lies so, so much.
There are endless winks at musical genres and sendups of classic musicals. “I’d Tap That” is Donald O’Connor and Gene Kelly, in a demented way. “The Math of Love Triangles” is pure Marilyn Monroe + geometry class. “Settle for Me” is Fred and Ginger, if Fred and Ginger weren’t all that into each other.
There are endless other stupendous musical moments. My face actually hurt after watching Rebecca’s rap battle with her childhood nemesis, Audra.
Rachel Bloom, who plays Rebecca, won a Golden Globe for this role. She also co-wrote the show’s 157 songs and performed most of them. She’s fearless, frank, and utterly willing to go all the way for a joke, and also to get at truth. There’s a core of good cheer to it all, even as the story gets about as dark as a story can get. There’s hope in there, and honesty, and open arms.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend streams on Netflix—lucky you, if you’re just starting this series.
PS Once we finished watching this series, we started digging up whatever we could find about Rachel Bloom and this 61-episode high-wire act. Come back when you’re done for these: Her co-creator, Aline Brosh McKenna, talks about her experience in a piece for The New York Times, “How ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ and My Work Friends Made Me an Honorary Millennial.” And NPR’s Glen Weldon chimes in with his ranking of the top 27 songs.