CW’s new musical dramedy portrays mental illness in accurate, relatable light

Dustin Gebel

What is more fun than mixing complex musical storytelling with a female embodiment of “The Lonely Island”? Nothing compares with The CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” an hour-long musical dramedy.


The show is written and partially scored by Rachel Bloom, who plays the crazy ex-girlfriend, Rebecca Bunch. Rebecca is a Jewish corporate lawyer living in Manhattan, and she suffers from depression, loneliness and possible hallucinations. After a short panic attack, Rebecca bumps into her old boyfriend from summer camp Joshua Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III), who is moving back to California.


Rebecca takes this as a sign from God and throws away everything to follow Josh to West Covina. She quickly finds a job, throws her meds away and buys a house, convinced that Josh will make her happy.


Along the way, she makes friends with paralegal Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin), who supports Rebecca’s infatuation with Josh. Her own failing marriage incites Paula to live vicariously through Rebecca.


Another crucial supporting character is Darryl Whitefeather (Pete Gardner), the dim, loveable and closeted bisexual boss of Rebecca’s new law firm.


While navigating the love life of Joshua Chan, Rebecca comes to experience conflicting feelings about Greg Serrano (Santino Fontana), a cynical bartender with feelings for Rebecca. Greg just happens to be Josh’s best friend.


“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” follows Rebecca’s attempts to woo Josh while trying to find some sort of happiness in her life. She links the idea of love with happiness and thus, beginning the series with deconstruction of the romantic comedy. The musical portions of the show only highlight the mental problems that Rebecca exhibits, serving as a deeper look into her troubled mind.


The show’s soundtrack is comprised of all original songs, ranging from pop ballads about liking the dude you’re sleeping with (“Oh My God I Think I Like You”), silky lyrical songs about unrealistic expectations (“Sexy Getting Ready Song”), to a rap about impressing parents (“I Give Good Parent”).


Underneath the various genres of music, the characters’ personalities shine. The audience is able to see how Rebecca views not only the world around her, but also the way she views herself.


It is heartbreaking to watch Rebecca think that she is in a literal romantic comedy and place little value in herself or her abilities. She forces herself to continue this charade as one song centers on how much of a terrible person she is (“You Stupid Bitch”).


While Rebecca tries to navigate the Florida-esque city of West Covina, her odd romantic pursuit of Josh and her own mental despair, she finds herself breaking all the tropes of the rom-com.


For example, the writers play with the subplot of the friend becoming the better choice. Rebecca spurns Greg everytime they start to grow close.


Additionally, the wise love mentor Paula tries to get Rebecca to hook up with the hot guy, rather than the one who could make her happy.


“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” exceeds every expectation of a show on the CW. The show reunites the whimsical tone of the musical with the meta humor and self deprecation of absurdist comedic musicians like “The Lonely Island.”


The series is for anyone looking to watch an intense character study, fun musical moments, a subversion of the rom-com and an accurate — albeit relatable — portrayal of mental illness.