As I wrote earlier today, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s first season is finally dropping on Netflix ANZ tomorrow, so I thought I’d write something about this show that I love. When I first heard that there was a show called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I had a similar reaction to hearing the premise for Jane the Virgin: I scoffed and rolled my eyes. Like Jane, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a show that’s smarter than its title suggests. The term “crazy ex-girlfriend” has become a cliche – a throwaway line used to dismiss an ex’s behaviour (“That’s a sexist term”). The premise is that Rebecca flies across the country to be with her boyfriend from summer camp, but as she says in the first season theme song, the situation is a lot more nuanced than that. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is in on the joke of its title. It’s a feminist show at its core, co-run by two women, Golden Globe winning star Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh-McKenna. The songs are funny and insightful. I’ve put together a list of songs that demonstrate that this show knows exactly what it’s doing. This isn’t a list of the show’s best songs (that would be much longer, and I’d probably include all of these anyway), but they give the best sense of what the show is about.
The Sexy Getting Ready Song: “Josh Just Happens to Live Here!” (Season 1 Episode 1)
This is probably the song on this that I like the least, but it makes some great points and is definitely worth a listen. Ever wondered why women take so long to get ready? The cut to Greg sleeping on the couch “let’s see how the guys get ready,” and the rapper realising that he should be apologising to women are what makes this song work, and there’s great payoff in the tag at the end of the episode.
Feeling Kinda Naughty: “Josh’s Girlfriend Is Really Cool!” (Season 1 Episode 2)
Remember “I Kissed A Girl”? Feeling Kinda Naughty is a parody of that kind of thinking. Rebecca wants to be so close to Josh that she becomes obsessed with his girlfriend Valencia, and craves her approval. Because if she can be like Valencia, maybe she can be Josh’s girlfriend. There’s also the added creepiness of “I wanna kill you and wear your skin like a dress/ But then also have you see me in the dress/ And be ‘OMG you look so cute in my skin!'”
Put Yourself First: “I’m Back at Camp With Josh!” (Season 1 Episode 10)
This song isn’t dissimilar in theme to “The Sexy Getting Ready Song,” but it feels much more effective. When she’s at camp with Josh, Rebecca bonds with some teenagers when she finally tells them that she has feelings for Josh, and they give her a makeover while singing “Put yourself first in a sexy way.” Rebecca’s reply is “If I’m putting myself first for him, then by definition, aren’t I putting myself second?” Women so often define themselves in relation to men that putting yourself first becomes putting yourself second. The photographer’s T-shirt that reads ‘Male Gaze’ is the icing on the cake.
You Stupid Bitch: “That Text Was Not Meant for Josh!” (Season 1 Episode 11)
The classic torch song has become a song of self-loathing. Actions have consequences in this show, and Rebecca’s lies become unmanageable. She ends up alienating Josh and Greg in less than an hour, and the repeat performance of “You Stupid Bitch” shows that she’s felt like this before. It’s not just about her actions, Rebecca’s body image isn’t that great either: “Bitch. You’re a stupid bitch. And lose some weight.” The culmination of the show up until now, “You Stupid Bitch” is the song in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend that feels the most real.
I’m the Villain: “Josh Is Going To Hawaii!” (Season 1 Episode 14)
This is the point in the show where Rebecca starts to become self-aware (it’s an ongoing journey for Rebecca). She was a woman with a high paying job (and she’s still a lawyer), but she’s not Josh’s girlfriend, and that’s how she’s defined her self-worth since moving to California. It’s at this point that she realises that trying to ruin someone else’s relationship for your own goals isn’t who she wants to be.