My TV shows have ebbed and flowed over the years. In college, my friends and I watched 30 Rock, then Parks & Rec. We committed to old episodes of Daria and Summer Heights High. But those shows have gone since then, and I had little to take their place.
For many years, I loved The Mindy Project, which I watched every week, but I stopped this seasons; the show lost some of its spark without Danny, and I felt like I kept watching Mindy in the same situations as she had been in earlier seasons. None of the characters seemed to be growing or maturing; the ones that did moved on (Peter, for instance).
Two of my favorite shows at the moment hail from the CW: Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Apparently, hour-long comedies are now my thing. Jane the Virgin is pure fun: mystery, love, family, novel writing. I love the way it alludes to, pokes fun at, and upends the telenovela formula. And although a certain update this season was heartbreaking, it’s really reinvigorated the story. The three-year jump has been particularly effective, and reminds me of the last season of Parks & Rec, where it also worked so well.
But my favorite TV show–by far–is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I haven’t loved a show as much as this in I don’t know how long. There is not enough time for me to detail everything I admire about the show. I want to be smart when talking about television, but I’m not, so I’ll point you to this fabulous piece by Emily Nussbaum, which is what convinced me to give Crazy Ex-Girlfriend a shot.
Since I’ve become obsessed with the show (I watched the first five episodes over Winter Storm Jonas weekend in January 2015), I’ve made it my mission to proselytize. The title, coupled with the key art from the first season, had made it difficult for me to give the show a shot. It wasn’t clear that the show was mocking the term “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” The show opens with Rebecca Bunch, a successful and miserable attorney with mental health issues, who has a breakdown the day she’s offered the position of partner at her law firm. She runs into her camp boyfriend, Josh Chan, in the throes of this. He mentions he’s moving home to West Covina, California. Rebecca thinks that it sounds like a place where she could be happy. So she quits her job and moves there, much to the astonishment of everyone who knows her. At her new law firm, paralegal Paula suspects that Rebecca’s not being truthful about why she moved to town, and finds that Rebecca is obsessed with a guy named Josh Chan. Rebecca has been hoping to run into him, and meets his friend Greg at the bar where Josh had been sitting minutes before. Greg likes Rebecca; cue the love triangle. By the end of the pilot, Paula vows to help Rebecca get Josh, becoming her best friend.
But what really makes Crazy Ex-Girlfriend unusual is the fact that it’s a musical comedy. I always bury the lede on that point (for a former singer, I have an astonishing number of friends who dislike musicals). Rachel Bloom, who stars and co-created the series with Aline Brosh McKenna, is a writer and comedian. The songs cover (and sometimes skewer) everything from women getting ready to go out to female friendship to guilting mothers. If you’re unfamiliar, “The Sexy Getting Ready Song” from the pilot is probably a good place to start. The songs can be crass and sometimes hit a little too close to home. But I love that the show is unapologetic about showing how difficult it can be to be a young woman in our society, particularly one dealing with mental illness. The show has evolved over two seasons in a fascinating way, and the season 2 finale had me frantically texting everyone I know who watches (which is now a large number; perhaps I should consider becoming a missionary?). I cannot wait to see where the show is going in Season 3. It’s only getting more brilliant.
If you’re a Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fan, please let me know! I always love finding more people to talk about it.
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