Nov 30, 2016

[TV] Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Season 1

Platforms like Netflix and iFlix have been contributing to our TV show discovery process given we've been living without cable TV for quite some time now. And as much as I try to find "lesser"shows that I figure I can watch without investing in my limited shared time with Tobie, sometimes shows surprise me.

Fresh Off the Boat started as something that I thought I would watch alone and the same goes for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. And while we still love the former way more than the latter, this show does have some definite potential. And I'm not just referring to the fact that the show has Filipino characters in the thick of things.

Or maybe I'm just a sucker for a show that tries to marry the stage musical experience to its comedy. The show may not be wall-to-wall songs but the occasional musical bits do provide some delight and help make a lot of the weird stuff a but more tolerable.

The show definitely started out with the crazy mindset well in mind and at times felt problematic. But in time the show figured out a better direction to take with the writing and that helped a lot,

Synopsis: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is an American romantic comedy musical sitcom created by Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna for the CW. The show already has a second season.

The series starts with a flashback to a theater summer camp in 2005 where Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) gets dumped by her summer fling Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III). Fast-forward to the present and Rebecca is now a successful Harvard lawyer working at a big New York firm. News breaks that she's being offered a full partnership and this sends her into a bit of a nervous breakdown as she questions her direction in life.

But at the same moment, she spots Josh across the street and the two talk a bit. Josh has been in New York trying to establish a career but had decided to go back home to West Covina, California instead. This rekindles all sorts of feelings in her and she decides to quit her job and move to West Covina to follow Josh.

What I Liked: The show has an odd charm about it and in time they manage to shift the narrative from "Rebecca went nuts and followed an old fling across the country" to "Rebecca had a nervous breakdown and made some poor life choices". And while her infatuation with Josh is still a very real thing by the end of the first season, it's not exactly the main force in her life. Rebecca has some legitimate issues about the life she had been somewhat forced into by firm parenting and a need to please her mother and the future of the show may tie to that.

And of course I do enjoy the musical numbers and there are some real gems littered across the season. Plus you have great talent like Paula the paralegal (Donna Lynne Champlin), who immediately figures out Rebecca's secret but instead becomes her greatest confidant in her new home. She's quite the gem and both a voice of reason but also an odd enabler.

What Could Have Been Better: The show first goes into weird, awkward territory when they first push the odd thing between Josh's best friend Greg (Santino Fontana) and Rebecca as she clearly tries to use Greg to get to Josh. There are a lot of awkward bits that are in there for some comedic effect but I'm not happy with the more long-term implications. They eventually move on to other things but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

And some of the side-plots for episodes are just really odd. I enjoyed meeting Josh's Filipino family that was fun even though somewhat cringe-worthy at times, but then you have episodes like how Rebecca tries to hard to become friends with Josh's girlfriend and I just don't know what to do with that.

TL;DR: Crazy Ex-Girfriend is fun when it's great and awkward when it's not, but the show has more good moments than bad. And after a certain point you do get around to actually rooting for Rebecca instead of just feeling weird about her. Thus the season gets a good 3.5 zany musical interludes out of a possible 5.

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