It’s been eight years since the talented writer, actress, singer-songwriter Rachel Bloom first put West Covina, California on the map with her truly amazing musical TV series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
The show is one of those rare and underrated gems that manages to subvert almost every genre and counter all expectations. It is equal parts romantic comedy, drama, musical and social commentary. And it’s really funny to laugh at.
Bloom plays protagonist Rebecca Bunch, a successful New York City lawyer who turns her life upside down 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 about Rebecca’s plot to get him back.
The title Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is ironic, one of many stereotypes that the show upends through creative musical numbers including its ever-changing theme song.
In its first season, the cast happily sings “She’s the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend!” and Bloom interjects “No, I’m not!” and “The situation is much more nuanced than that.”
Over the course of 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 diverse group of characters – each with their own surprisingly nuanced character development – and showed deep empathy towards all of them, even those presented at the start as villains.
And he helped break the taboo surrounding mental illness by portraying a mentally ill main character in a respectful and compassionate way.
In honor 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 the final curtain.
It all begins when Rebecca decides, on a whim, to give up everything and move to a suburb of Los Angeles called West Covina. The fairy tale musical number sounds like it’s straight out of a Disney movie, which creates a hilarious contrast with the backdrop of shopping malls and Rebecca’s increasingly manic lyrics.
Favorite Lyric: “What a loving feeling in my gut, I go faster than the middle school music program was cut.”
Maybe this dream
Rebecca’s best friend Paula, played by lead Donna Lynne Champlin, demolishes this powerful ballad about her dream of becoming a lawyer. It’s the moment when the exhausted, frustrated mom, who always puts everyone else’s needs first, gives herself permission to dream. Powerful and fun.
Favorite lyric: “Maybe this dream won’t shit on my face like a seagull on the beach”
Let’s generalize about men
What an anthem! In this season three centerpiece, we find Rebecca, Paula, Rebecca’s neighbor Heather, and Josh’s ex-girlfriend Valencia, sipping wine and making general statements about how horrible all men are (except men gay). The ’80s-style girl power theme leans into the stereotype, with neon eye makeup and hideous perms for days.
Favorite 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 colleague who is studying to become a lawyer. It’s simply fabulous, a whirlwind of colorful dresses and fun 80s ties. I still sing it to my lawyer friends.
Favorite Lyric: “There are so many other professions that don’t turn you into Jeff Sessions”
After Josh finds out that Rebecca lied to him, Rebecca tells this self-flagellating ballad about how she ruined everything and what a horrible person she is. Raw and real, this song will touch a nerve with anyone who has ever hated themselves. If there’s one song that defines Rebecca’s story arc in season one, it’s this one. A great one to sing in the shower on those days when you feel like a poopy little slut.
Favorite lyric: “You’re just a dirty little bitch who doesn’t think and deceives the people she loves.”
I’m a good person
After Greg, Josh’s best friend (and Rebecca’s new love interest), accuses Rebecca of being a bad person, she responds the only way she knows how: with a song. This is simply a riot, with infectious lyrics that you want to shout at the top of your lungs.
Favorite lyric: “I’m a good person, that’s my thing. My nickname is Mother Teresa Luther King.”
This song might be the most emblematic of the entire show: it’s the moment Rebecca realizes she needs help for the psychological problems she’s swept under the rug her whole life. She is pinning all her hopes and dreams for the future on a diagnosis from her new doctor.
Bloom’s speech is perfect: her hopeful desperation, her desire for a magical solution that can explain why Rebecca is the way she is, that can help her find where she belongs. It’s another example of how the show sensitively addresses a serious and often stigmatized issue through an unexpected medium.
Favorite lyric: “I am aware that mental illness is stigmatized, but it is worth it if I understood who I should be armed with my diagnosis.”
Here it is. You can watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Netflix. And you really should.