Review: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

RAchel Bloom and Vincent Rodriguez III in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Where was I last TV season? Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was on CW, a channel I receive, for 18 episodes. I missed it entirely. Recently I saw several references to it and thought, “What is this Crazy Ex-Girlfriend show anyway?” I did what any curious person would do. I watched it.

The show is about Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), a Harvard/Yale educated lawyer in New York. She turns down a partnership in her law firm to go to West Covina in search of her boyfriend from summer camp Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III). Summer camp was 10 years ago. Rebecca’s grown up brain is stuck at age 16 where love is concerned.

In short, she’s a nutjob.

A nutjob who bursts into song and dance numbers while pursuing her dream beau or dealing with her dysfunctional life.

Rachel Bloom and Donna Lynne Champlin from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Rachel Bloom and Donna Lynne Champlin at a media event for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

In spite of the seeming search for romantic love, the primary relationship in the show is between Rebecca and Paula. Paula works in Rebecca’s new firm in California. Paula is played by Donna Lynne Champlin, a Broadway actress with great pipes. (Actually, everyone on the show is a good singer, including Rachel Bloom.)

Paula somehow buys into Rebecca’s delusion that Josh is the man for her and helps devise crazy stunts intended to win Josh over.

Rachel Bloom in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Rachel Bloom is perfection in the part. She’s a brilliant comedian, great at the song and dance routines, and can snap out the Harvard education smarts when needed. She can go from decked out in dazzling splendor to no-bra, no-makeup, no-hairdo in seconds flat – often in the same scene. Yes, I realize the scenes were cut together – she can’t really do that. Or maybe she can. (Wow, I’m buying into the show’s premise.)

I should mention a few other important characters. There’s Greg (Santino Fontana) who falls for Rebecca immediately. Being obsessed with Josh, she doesn’t even notice there is a guy in love with her. Darryl Whitefeather (Pete Gardner) is her new boss. Valencia (Gabrielle Ruiz) is Josh’s official girlfriend and has been since high school. Heather (Vella Lovell) is Rebecca’s neighbor. Heather uses Rebecca as a case study in her abnormal psych class. She takes “deadpan” to new heights of comedic fun. It’s a big cast, there are other regulars swirling around Rebecca and her delusions of love. There’s an occasional guest like Dr. Phil. Tovah Feldshuh does as infrequent turn as Rebecca’s mother.

The show is funny and unusual. That creativity and distinctness is part of its appeal. It is unique in its approach to telling a story. In one sense it’s ditzy meaningless comedy, in another it’s about mental illness and friendship and decision making and love and music, music, music.

Okay, maybe it isn’t 100% unique. I will compare it with another show: The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Both have a main character who is mentally different. Both show actors who play it straight for a while and then sing. In both series, the song lyrics are as crazy as the plot. (Rachel Bloom wrote some of the songs.) One more comparison: Orange is the New Black. Like OITNB, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has a character who never speaks, Mrs. Rodriguez (Gina Gallego).

Did you watch this show when it was on? (I caught up on Netflix.) What did you think of it? Are you looking forward to season 2 this fall?

Images ©The CW

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