12 October 2015: The genre-bending TV show "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" first airs on US network The CW.
It’s been eight years since the crazy talented writer-actor-singer-songwriter Rachel Bloom first put West Covina, California on the map with her truly remarkable musical TV series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
The show is one of those rare, underrated gems that manages to subvert nearly every genre and thwart all expectations. It’s equal parts romantic comedy, drama, musical and social commentary. And it’s laugh-out-loud funny.
Bloom stars as protagonist Rebecca Bunch, a successful New York City lawyer who upends her life to move to the small southern California town of West Covina to pursue her first love Josh Chan. The only problem is Josh has moved on, and the sweet clueless jock has no idea Rebecca’s plotting to get him back.
The title Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is tongue-in-cheek, one of many stereotypes the show flips on its head through creative musical numbers including its ever-changing theme song.
In its first season, the cast gleefully sings “She’s the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend!” and Bloom interjects “No I’m not!” and “The situation’s a lot more nuanced than that.”
Over its four seasons, the beloved show gave us a mind-boggling 157 original songs written by Bloom and the late, great Adam Schlesinger (who is sorely missed).
It introduced us to a motley crew of characters – each with their own surprisingly nuanced character development – and showed profound empathy towards all of them, even those it presented as villains early on.
And it helped break the taboo surrounding mental illness, portraying a mentally-ill main character in a respectful and compassionate way.
In honour of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s debut, we’ve put together a list of seven of the show’s most creative songs that we’re still singing four years after its final curtain.
It all begins when Rebecca decides on a whim that she’s dropping everything to move to a suburb of Los Angeles called West Covina. The fairy tale musical number sounds like it’s pulled straight from a Disney movie, which makes for a hilarious contrast to the backdrop of strip malls and Rebecca’s increasingly manic lyrics.
Favourite lyric: “What a feeling of love in my gut, I'm going faster than the middle school's music program was cut”
Maybe This Dream
Rebecca’s best friend Paula, played by scene-stealing Donna Lynne Champlin, demolishes this power ballad about her dream to become a lawyer. It’s the moment where the exhausted and frustrated mom who always puts everyone else’s needs first gives herself permission to dream. Powerful, and hilarious.
Favourite lyric: “Maybe this dream won’t poop on my face like a seagull at the beach”
Let’s Generalize About Men
What an anthem! In this Season 3 banger, we find Rebecca, Paula, Rebecca’s neighbour Heather, and Josh’s ex-girlfriend Valencia sipping wine and making blanket statements about how awful all men are (except for gay men). The 80s-style girl power theme leans into the stereotype, with neon coloured eye makeup and awful perms for days.
Favourite lyric: “Let’s take one bad thing about one man… and apply it to all of them!”
Don’t be a Lawyer
One of Rebecca’s fellow lawyers, Jim Kittsworth, played by Burl Moseley, got fed up and started his own soft pretzel business in the same building as his old law firm. This song is his unsolicited manifesto to a young co-worker who is studying to become a lawyer. It’s straight up fabulous, a whirlwind of colourful suits and fun 80s ties. I still sing this one to my lawyer friends.
Favourite lyric: “There are so many other professions that don’t turn you into Jeff Sessions”
You Stupid Bitch
After Josh finds out that Rebecca has been lying to him, Rebecca belts out this self-flagellating ballad about how she ruined everything and what an awful person she is. Raw and real, this song will hit a nerve with anyone who’s ever hated themselves. If there’s one song that defines Rebecca’s story arc in Season 1, it’s this one. A good one to belt in the shower on those days where you feel like a poopy little slut.
Favourite lyric: “You're just a poopy little slut who doesn't think and deceives the people she loves.”
I’m a Good Person
After Josh’s best friend (and Rebecca’s new love interest) Greg accuses Rebecca of being a bad person, she hits back the only way she knows how – in song. This one is just a riot, with infectious lyrics that you want to shout at the top of your lungs.
Favourite lyric: “I’m a good person, that’s my thing. My nickname is Mother Theresa Luther King”
This song may be the most emblematic of the entire show – it’s the moment where Rebecca realises that she needs to get help for the psychological issues she’s been brushing under the rug her whole life. She puts all her hopes and dreams for her future into a diagnosis from her new doctor.
Bloom’s delivery is perfect – her hopeful desperation, yearning for a magic solution that can explain why Rebecca is the way she is, that can help her find where she belongs. It’s another example of the show sensitively dealing with a serious and often stigmatised issue through an unexpected medium.
Favourite lyric: “I’m aware mental illness is stigmatised but the stigma is worth it if I’ve realised who I’m meant to be armed with my diagnosis.”
There you have it. You can watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Netflix. And you really should.