by Erica Sabel
After the success of the CW’s quirky, female-driven “Jane the Virgin,” the network decided to premiere another show using the same proven model. Developed by and starring Rachel Bloom as Rebecca Bunch, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” lives up to its straightforward title. Bunch, a successful yet lonely pill-popping lawyer, runs out of her law office after a promotion-induced panic attack. While panicking, Bunch is divinely intervened by a billboard, which poses the question, “when was the last time you were truly happy?” As if by fate, a sign falls and points to her unrequited, long-lost summer camp love. Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III), whom Bunch dated for two months at camp when they were 16, appears with a light shining upon him, a symbol of fate in Bunch’s life. As the two exchange pleasantries, Chan mentions that he is leaving New York to move back to the comforts of his home in West Covina, California. This perfectly-timed reunion inspired Bunch to quit her stressful job and relocate to West Covina, California, in search of a new beginning and, more importantly, Josh Chan’s love.
While this rom-com trope is familiar to “Ex-Girlfriend’s” audience, its cliché storyline is intensified when Bunch unexpectedly bursts into song. The overly produced number, titled “Josh Just Happens to Live Here” is so staged it comes off as cheesy, and it is clear that the musical number, as well as the show’s budget, has gone overboard. The reprise of “Josh Just Happens to Live Here,” seen later in the episode, however, is a toned-down rendition of the song, giving the actors’ talents a chance to shine through and proving that their raw talents are all that is necessary to captivate their audience.
The rest of “Ex-Girlfriend” is set in California, where Bunch has relocated to a less impressive job and house. From her move until the end of the episode, Bunch takes the show’s title to the extreme. She becomes obsessive and ultimately takes a huge step backwards in the feminist movement. Bunch does everything in her power to get closer to Chan, including asking him out immediately after her move (Chan had politely told Bunch to look her up if she was ever in West Covina) and befriending and making out with Greg (Santino Fontana), a good friend of Chan’s, simply to learn information about Chan, which resulted in a very awkward party scene. Compared to its sister show, “Jane the Virgin,” it was disappointing to see a starring female character exist simply to appeal to her dream man.
After Bunch learns that Chan is in a committed relationship and that he only moved back to California to be with his girlfriend, Bunch panics to her newfound coworker friend, who is in awe of Bunch’s choice to give up a $500,000 paycheck in the name of finding true love with her summer camp soulmate. The episode ends with a newly-empowered Bunch, determined to seduce Chan and make him fall in love with her.
Where, in most television seasons, people would view this cheesy, predictable rom-com musical, roll their eyes and change the channel, the show was actually aided due to the fact that it premiered in one of the worst fall-premiere seasons in recent history. The show’s cast is talented, and, if the forthcoming episodes prove to be less cliché and Bunch becomes more than just a love-hungry female, the rom-com musical that is “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” may find a future.
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” premiered on Oct. 12.
Erica Sabel is a Staff Writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org