“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” on the CW
As adventurous and well constructed as some cable TV offerings have become in the last few years, we still live in the era of “Chicago Med.” It’s not that NBC’s new doc drama is the worst thing on TV. “Chicago Med” is a frequent punchline with me because it’s the follow-up to “Chicago PD” and “Chicago Fire.” It is, essentially, the most generic idea for a TV show anyone could imagine.
Granted, the reason overly familiar shows make it onto TV so often is that the general public—by and large lazy in their consumption methods—watches them. Spend enough time flipping channels, though, and you start to crave something fresh. (That or you feel the need to turn off the idiot box and do something worthwhile like go outside—but let’s not get into crazy talk right now.) This brings us, in a roundabout manner, to Rachel Bloom’s CW series “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” Along with Will Forte’s “The Last Man on Earth” over on FOX, it’s one of the most innovative shows on network TV right now.
The hour-long musical comedy (yes, you read that right) started out as a pitch for Showtime. For whatever reason Showtime didn’t pick it up. It wound up at—of all places—teen-loving CW network. “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is the work of multitalented actress, comedienne and singer Rachel Bloom. Back in 2010 Bloom landed a cult following with the lovingly smutty viral video “Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury.” It went on to earn the aged science fiction writer’s stamp of approval and was actually nominated for a Hugo Award. For “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” Bloom teams with screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) to create a decidedly off-kilter look at modern relationships. With songs.
Bloom stars as Rebecca, a single New Yorker in her late ’20s who went to Harvard and—at her controlling mother’s urging—became a successful lawyer. With 30 closing in fast, though, our heroine suddenly realizes she doesn’t care about anything in her life. A chance meeting with Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III), an old boyfriend she had for a few weeks in high school theater camp, leads her to believe fate is knocking on her door. Deciding that Josh is her soulmate, Rebecca drops everything, quits her job and moves to West Covina, Calif.
There, in the generic, strip-mall-laden suburbs of Los Angeles, the lovably delusional Rebecca essentially stalks her ex-boyfriend and indulges in assorted musical fantasies. The tone of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is all over the map: funny, cynical, mean-spirited, cute, slightly insane. Also, it’s filled with song-and-dance numbers that highlight Bloom’s musical talents and demented sense of humor. Take, for example, her R&B ode to internet dating “Hey, Sexy Stranger, Come On Back to My Place (And Please Don’t Be a Murderer).”
Not everyone will take to this twisted mix of romantic comedy, bad behavior and random production numbers. It’s one of those things that has to grow on you. Watch one episode, and you’ll be terribly confused. Watch two or three, and chances are you’ll be hooked. You might even find yourself singing along.