I remember when I was first introduced to Rachel Bloom: It was during University where a friend urged me to watch an insane yet brilliant music video.
It was this one.
With subversive, sexual lyrics and a top video about a prolific science fiction writer that was also filled with ludicrous puns and hilarity, I was sold. I knew I was going to love this artist for a very long time.
After becoming popular on Youtube, Rachel Bloom and co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna presented us with a musical television that was, I have to stress, absolutely nothing like Glee. That television series was Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Two Golden Globes, any live shows, and a whole legions of fans later, the songstress and producer have created a massive hit with their intricate, emotive, and lovable television series.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend revolves around Rebecca Bunch who is a successful lawyer in New York City. When offered a promotion, her emotions come crashing down and she realises that for all the work she has done, it has never been enough. Whilst having a panic attack in the street, she sees a sign pointing to Josh Chan, an ex-boyfriend from her teenage years. Feeling he is the answer to her problems, Rebecca moves across country to West Corvina to start afresh….and to fall madly in love with Josh Chan. With help from new friends and a musical number or two, can Rebecca get the guy?
Bloom and McKenna are goddamn geniuses. I won’t take anything less. They have overturned all stereotypes and crafted an immutable and unforgettable show. What they have has created here is a mastery of song, colour, and important character development.
With Rebecca, Bloom is unafraid to portray her every single faults in an complex and human way. The lead character is relatable in her unravelling and, yes, heinous in other difficult places. Bunch inhabits a woman in the midst of a breakdown but who can fool herself into falling in love whilst making very realistic mistakes. Her character is so incredible because she is flawed, and Bloom portrays her in such an engaging and empathetic way.
Bloom is helped by some impressive side-players. Donna Lynne Champlin as Becca’s best friend Paula goes through her own strife (and also has some of the best moments,) whilst Santino Fontana, Scott Michael Foster, and Vincent Rodriguez III as her turbulent lovers are superb additions to the show. The deadpan Vella Lovell, the love to hate Gabrielle Ruiz, and the adorable Pete Gardener equally have stellar roles.
Let’s talk about the songs. The songs! THE SONGS!
The songs are pure gold. There is not a genre that isn’t mimicked in some appealing way with lyrics that play mockery to the situations Bunch & Co are in. From the pop/dance anthem of Heavy Boobs (my ringtone, by the way,) which slices down the difficulties of being “blessed” with a heavy set to the incredible epic After Everything I’ve Done To You which involes Gypsy‘s crashing crescendo, each musical outing is a parade of mischievous talent. That being said, Bloom also uses her skill to pen heart-wrenching moments that capture self-deprecation, loneliness, and more. Working with themes and lyrical brilliance that resonate so deeply, Bloom and a team of composers (Adam Schlesinger, Frank Ciampi, and Tom Polce,) have crafted some of the best songs of all time. And no, I’m not being hyperbolic.
The latest episodes in Season 3 have switched the tempo, and without spoiling too much, it is a defining moment for the characters that can help others in equal distress. Bloom pours her heart and soul into this vivid world and it shows. Entertaining yet emotional, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of the best series on television.
I’ll end this review on the song that made me go from like to obsessed. Which is fitting….
P.S. As I don’t have the words to talk in depth about each and every Crazy Ex-Girlfriend episode, please head over to the AV Club to see Allison Shoemaker’s thoughts because they are beautifully written and often on point.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is available on Netflix