The season finale of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend got us talking about what an outstanding first season this unique musical comedy has had, and we wanted to share the show with you. Spoilers for the first season are contained within, but this isn’t a show where knowing certain plot points will compromise your viewing of the show. We start by discussing the show’s portrayal of mental illness as a very real, constant part of its protagonist’s day-to-day life.
We also tackle the music of the show, all of which deserves multiple listens and watches. The show’s creators (Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna) pulled off a truly impressive feat, bringing two to three original songs to each of the 18 episodes of this first season, referencing great musicals, specific pop music performances, and creating a full complement of outstanding songs. Here’s the great article Jeff mentioned where Bloom speaks specifically about how different songs in the show evolved during production. They even added to the grand tradition of Angry Solo Dances, and we saw fit to include Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in our list of The 8 Best Angry Solo Dances of the Last 30 Years.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend also excels at building diverse portrayals of race and gender identity right into the fabric of the narrative. It’s an absolute strength of this show and should be a standard that other network television series aspire to meet. All hail Darryl and White Josh!
Another thing that makes this show great is its treatment of its female main character, Rebecca Bunch. When her Dream Ghost, Dr. Akopian, makes the exasperated point that “it’s not about the guys!,” she speaks to the audience as much as to Rebecca, and it’s awesome to see a show deal head on with the problematic binaries that women get stuck between in most popular entertainment. That the show carries the overall structure of a classic Disney musical? That’s just the cherry on top. For the curious, here’s the video Rachel Bloom made about Historically Accurate Disney Princesses that brought the two creators together in the first place.
In our second segment, we talk more about musicals on television, and break it down into full musical shows, shows that have musical episodes, and then shows that feature musical numbers within standard episodes. We ponder why no one talks about Empire as a musical, when it apparently is one, and of course Glee, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Grey’s Anatomy, and Agent Carter come up, because we are who we are.
We end the show with our usual Pop Culture Kool-Aid picks for the week. Jeff has been drinking in a super documentary about voice actors called I Know that Voice that is produced by prolific voice artist John DiMaggio, and features many other talents that populate this extensive world.
Lauren’s Pop Culture Kool-Aid pick for the week is the work of Emily Nussbaum, recent Pulitzer Prize (!) winner for Criticism. You should definitely read this outstanding article: “Queer Eyes, Full Heart: The Button-pushing Camp of Ryan Murphy” which was mentioned in the segment, along with this also outstanding article, “Hate-Watching Smash”. For more of her writing, check out her official Pulitzer Prize page, and also this roundup of her work from The A.V. Club.
Thanks so much for joining us this week! Don’t want to miss an episode? Go ahead and subscribe on iTunes or on Google Play! Check back on May 12th for our next episode (all about Captain America: Civil War)!