Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
  2. TV & Radio
14 October 2017updated 03 Aug 2021 7:09am

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend mixes farcical plots with surprising emotional realism

Characters boldly sing about their psychological flaws and emotional dependencies.

By Anna Leszkiewicz

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the comedy series starring Rachel Bloom, has a pretty bizarre premise. The lawyer Rebecca Bunch is depressed by the mundanity of her career-focused life. One day, she runs into Josh, who was her summer camp boyfriend when she was 16. They chit-chat on the street and he tells her that he now lives happily in the suburbs in California. Swept up by the idea of this fantasy life, Rebecca leaves New York to follow Josh to West Covina and win him back. Oh, and did I mention it’s a musical?

The popularity of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which airs in the UK on Netflix, has slowly grown thanks to its combination of farcical plots, surreal yet catchy musical interludes and surprising emotional realism. The role of the “crazy ex-girlfriend” might sound like a hollow, anti-feminist stereotype, but the show, co-created by Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna, makes Rebecca three-dimensional enough to subvert the trope.

The result is wacky 40-minute episodes in which characters boldly sing about their psychological flaws and emotional dependencies, in pitch-perfect parodies of everything from boy-band balladry and rap battles to French chanson and golden-age musicals.

The third season (released on 14 October) marks a significant departure as Rebecca moves away from elaborate scheming to push her and Josh together. After Josh committed one crime too many, the second season ended with Rebecca on a cliff, flanked by her three best friends, gleefully declaring: “Josh Chan must be destroyed.”

All this bodes terribly for Josh (and probably Rebecca, too) but suggests that great things are to come. After all, what could be more melodramatic fun than a crazy ex-girlfriend with a thirst for vengeance? 

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Content from our partners
The truth about employability
Why we need a Minister for Citizen Experience
Powering careers that secure our net zero future

Topics in this article :

This article appears in the 11 Oct 2017 issue of the New Statesman, How May crumbled