By Emma Davis
Edited by Ella Fasciano
4 Seasons / Aired 2015 - 2019 / Rated TV-14 (TV-MA on Netflix for dealing with suicide)
You would not expect a show with “crazy” in the title to be the most accepting, accurate, and real mental health representation on tv, but... alas. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ran from 2015 to 2019 on the CW Network. Despite having the lowest viewership on television for all four years of its run, it has developed a cult following— and for good reason. I’m currently rewatching the show after binge watching it back in 2018 (I got lucky and was able to watch the final season as it was airing!). Despite it already being one of my favorite shows, I am still falling in love with it all over again.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of a kind— a musical dramedy that deals with real issues without being preachy or overbearing. So much media, such as 13 Reasons Why or the film Split, do not know how to deal with portraying mental illness. While 13 Reasons Why specifically seemed to harm how people understand mental illness more than it helped, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is completely different. Any fan you talk to will mention how much the show has helped them; whether it be with coming to terms with their diagnosis or feeling more confident in their personalities. Co-Creator and star of the show Rachel Bloom mentioned during the Stars In The House reunion that the writers actually did their research- “[The creators] sent a bunch of episodes to psychiatrists and psychologists that they found through the writer’s guild” to make sure that they weren’t feeding into any stigmas, or misrepresenting someone.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a genuinely funny show...but it can still make you cry. The musical numbers each episode are the same way— and they have some of the best writing. There’s a Emmy award winning song about “how antidepressants are so not a big deal” (a song that resonates as deeply important for so many), but there is also a song about how a main character just…really likes the zoo. Speaking of which, another great part of this show is that the characters actually seem like real people because they are so well-written and multifaceted. The main character, Rebecca Bunch, has some of the best character development on television. She goes from someone desperate for attention, feeling trapped in her life, to someone who is finally doing what she loves, and feeling secure in her personality. The characters are relatable and I love that I can even see some of myself in Rebecca’s personality. I cannot recommend this show enough— it’s incredibly unique and an important watch.
!! Plot Summary - Includes Some Spoilers !!
The show is from the perspective of the main character, Rebecca Bunch (played by absolute icon Rachel Bloom), who imagines her life as a series of musical numbers. Rebecca is a successful lawyer in New York City, but she is not comfortable with her life. However, she convinces herself that she should be happy with this life — until she runs into her summer camp fling, Josh, on the street. Josh makes Rebecca feel like “glitter is exploding inside” of her so she hopes to get together with him, but he’s moving back to California. Rebecca makes an irrational decision— she quits her job and moves to West Covina, California, to be around him. As she starts her new life, Rebecca wants to make it clear that she is definitely “not having a nervous breakdown!”
The series follows Rebecca and her journey with love, as well as her mental health journey. In fact, there’s a trifecta of episodes in season 3 that’s a turning point in Rebecca’s story… and it is some of the most powerful television I have ever seen. Josh’s Ex-Girlfriend is Crazy (3x04), I Never Want to See Josh Again (3x05), and Josh Is Irrelevant (3x06) chronicle Rebecca’s suicide attempt, the events leading up to it, and the aftermath. The episodes are heavy, and could be triggering for some, but it is realistic. It is well written. And, in the end, seeing Rebecca get her diagnosis is such an emotional moment. Watching her get the answer she needed, but not the answer she wanted is so relatable to many people’s journey. The overarching theme of the show —that romantic love isn’t an endgame— is an important message that speaks to our real world today. You don’t need to find love to be successful, but if you do, great! I love this show because of all its nuances that make it so special. Everything is so deliberate and ties back into the story perfectly. One of my absolute favorite details in the show is the recurring musical themes. For example, say a character sang a meaningful song earlier in the show- I highly suggest you check out Crazy Ex-Girlfriend— the show became so important to me in such a short amount of time, and I think if you watch it, it will become meaningful to you too.
All seasons (plus the live show!) of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are available to stream on Netflix.