Has it ever been a better time to be a fan of the old boob tube then right now? It’s hard not to feel spoiled with the vast smorgasbord of killer content at our fingertips today. TV today is littered with quality shows across various genres, making every staple of primetime television feel new and exciting. However, there is a notable exception among the plethora of quality TV shows: the sitcom.
Far gone from the days of creators such as Norman Lear, where TV comedy was on the cutting edge of social relevance. Sadly, the majority of situational comedies are now safe, middle of the road affairs with all the edge of a butter knife and the flavor of plain toast. This trend of bland, uninspired sitcoms is slowly dying as more and more comedies with teeth are getting made every year. One such show that has those teeth is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which hit the airwaves (do people still say that?) in 2015.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is the brainchild of Rachel Bloom, who had gained a strong YouTube following for her comedy songs such as Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury and Aline Brosh McKenna, who is the writer of such films as Morning Glory, 27 Dresses, and The Devil Wears Prada.
The musical comedy (yes, this thing is a musical!) stars Bloom as Rebecca Bunch, a high priced New York lawyer who hates her life, drops everything and moves to California to chase after her summer camp sweetheart when she runs into him years later on the street. Despite widespread critical acclaim and winning a multitude of awards, there are a whole host of folks who either don’t know about the show or passed on it due to the fact that it’s classified as a “sitcom.” This has led me here today to encourage everybody to plant their butts in front of a screen and give this show the fair shake it deserves in that nice, digestible list fashion the internet so loves. Let’s get started!
5. The Music:
It may seem weird to rank the music portion of this musical comedy at the bottom of the list, it is after all what makes the show unique to everything else out there right now. Here’s the thing though, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend would still be excellent without all the singing and occasional dancing.
Think of the musical numbers as the cherry on top of an already delicious ice cream sundae. It isn’t needed, but it is appreciated and enjoyable. This isn’t to say that the songs are just fluff, and they’re often the highlight of any given episode. The songs are never frivolous and usually serve as an expression of an emotional plot point for one or more of the characters. The show has done everything from classic song and dance numbers to battle raps. Thankfully they’re all top notch, and they make the show feel all the more vibrant and lively.
4. The Episodes Are An Hour Long:
To clarify, there are commercial breaks, but you are getting at least forty minutes of content per episode. The show takes advantage of its longer than average run time, allowing the comedy to flow at a more natural clip than the quick in-and-out series of quippy one-liners you get in the average twenty-two-minute episode. This also means the songs aren’t cutting into the story, so they don’t have to cut as much as they would with the traditional run time. The core of the comedy here is character based. The extra time allows for more fleshed out and nuanced characters and seeing more of what makes them tick opens up even more avenues for comedy. The writers use that extra time to get the audience invested in what is going on for our featured players, and that’s a good thing.
3. The Cast And Characters:
Speaking of characters, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s band of misfits are a blast to watch and the actors bringing them to life are a breath of fresh air. Bloom already had some internet fame built in, but the rest of the cast come from a theater background with few TV and movie credits before landing the show. This leads to a cast that is well versed in the song and dance thing, but who are unfamiliar to most regular TV watchers, which adds to the show feeling new and different, despite being staffed with seasoned actors.
The characters are a diverse collection of ethnicities, races, sexual preferences and economic backgrounds. It never turns into an after-school special about tolerance, but it is a show that admits to the reality that people from all walks of life interact on a daily basis. The characters are complicated and contradictory who often mess up just as much, if not more, than most people.
2. It Isn’t Afraid To Get Real:
The people in this show are far from perfect, and they often pay the consequences for their actions. Bloom’s Rebecca may be the protagonist of the show, but she is far from a hero of any sort. Remember that she dropped everything and moved across country chasing after her childhood sweetheart, and while the show may get a joke out of it, there is no pretense that this is something a mentally stable and healthy person would do. The show repeatedly smacks down the fantasy worlds she creates for herself so that she doesn’t have to face her own fears and inadequacies.
This sort of thing isn’t solely for Rebecca either. Across the board you have characters dealing with real issues like addiction and abortion. This may be a comedy, but that doesn’t mean that everything is a joke. This isn’t a show with a reset button, and the choices people make have lasting positive and negative effects. Even the songs can get in on the act. Take the following example:
They may be playing this for a laugh, but we’ve all felt this level of self-loathing at some point, making the song hit like a gut punch.
1. Because It’s Funny:
When you get past everything else, the make or break point for any comedy is if it is funny. No amount of star power, clever plotting, and brilliant production is going to save any comedy piece if it can’t bring the yuks, but thankfully Crazy Ex Girlfriend doesn’t have this problem. Consistently some of the smartest, funniest, and most daring stuff you will see on your TV or computer screen, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has the laughs in spades.
The show is serious about not taking itself too seriously. It is a relationship/romantic comedy that mocks and occasionally outright breaks from the very tropes it uses to forward its plot. It is a musical that makes fun of its own song in that same song. This show takes on the racial and sexual politics of today in a responsible manor while poking fun at them at the same time. It is the kind of show that can tell a rather witty and well thought out commentary about the nature of human relationships followed up by the simplest of fart jokes and have both kill.
No matter what the situation, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend finds and nails the comedy. Some of it comes from the most dark, awkward, and uncomfortable of places, but they work hard to make sure they’ve earned that laugh every time.
Look, this is something you just need to experience for yourself so if you have any love for comedy then you need to give this show a shot. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend airs Fridays on the CW and you can go to the CW’s website to catch up on the latest episodes and if you want to go back even further (and you should, the show really is that good) Netflix has you covered with the entire first season ready to stream. Go forth and have a laugh.