“I’m just a girl in love. I can’t be held responsible for my actions,” Rachel Bloom, as the title character Rebecca Bunch, sings in the season two opening sequence of The CW’s hit series “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” When I was first introduced to the new opening, I was admittedly disappointed that I would no longer get to hear the catchy, expository theme song poking fun at the very un-nuanced title. However, the new theme song was perhaps one of the best decisions the show could have made, as “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” has become a completely different show.
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” follows Rebecca Bunch, a hot-shot New York lawyer who impulsively uproots her life to follow her summer camp ex-boyfriend Josh to his hometown of West Covina, CA, in an attempt to find happiness.
While the first season focused on Rebecca’s unhealthy fixation with her strikingly dull ex to an almost obsessive level of its own, the show’s sophomore season has made it obvious that this route was setting the stones for a more complex portrait of its protagonist.
While the focus is still on Rebecca’s preoccupation with Josh, the second season dives into Rebecca’s underlying emotional problems and is primarily concerned with showing the effect her erratic behavior has on the world around her.
Rebecca continues in the new theme song, “I have no underlying issues to address, I’m certifiably cute and adorably obsessed.” Having revealed that the musical numbers are a product of Rebecca’s untreated mental illness (she threw out her pills when she moved to West Covina), the audience knows by now that the musical theater elements take place entirely inside Rebecca’s head. So, of course, they reflect what Rebecca believes, and what she believes in most of all is the idea that love conquers all, and as long as someone loves her (specifically the boy who called her “dramatic and, like, weird”) everything will be alright.
What has been most interesting about this season is how the show has used Rebecca’s dubious actions to destroy this rom-com fantasy. What the audience quickly realizes is that this show is not trying to tell yet another story of fated lovers that will surely end in a happily ever after. Instead, Rebecca’s endgame will only come when she finally accepts that true happiness will only come if she addresses her own problems.
Part of the fun is watching Rebecca come closer to this realization, fall back into her own ways and slowly work her way back to a breakthrough. While the simple matter of how easy everything could be if she just got out of her own head can feel irritating at points, her ultimate self-discovery will surely be all the more rewarding.
While the dramatic elements of the show may seem at the forefront, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is, at heart, a comedy and wows with its irreverent and face-paced humor. What really sets it apart, though, is its hilarious, wacky and sometimes even quite touching musical numbers that borrow from a number of music genres and artist parodies.
Highlights from this season include a triangle-pun-filled riff on “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” called “The Math of Love Triangles,” an uproarious Disney-inspired ballad called “Maybe this Dream,” an R. Kelly parody called “Stuck in the Bathroom” and the hilariously raunchy “Period Sex,” a running joke reprised several times throughout the season.
Other high points include anytime Tovah Feldshuh makes an appearance as Rebecca’s inattentive mother and a guest appearance from none other than Broadway legend Patti LuPone as Rebecca’s childhood rabbi.
However, the show is still far from perfect. With a whirlwind of plotlines, sometimes storylines seem rushed or forced. Particularly, the effect that Rebecca’s disrespect of Paula has on their friendship is a plotline built throughout the majority of the season. However, as soon as tensions burst and their friendship seems to be destroyed, the two make up throughout the span of only one episode.
With the introduction of a new character, the new boss of Whitefeather & Associates Nathaniel Plimpton III, a new conflict is introduced and their fight is hardly mentioned again.
The show then shifts focus to the sexual tension between Rebecca and Nathaniel, which ultimately results in her kissing him due to a lapse in judgment caused by the Santa Ana winds. However, this storyline is also immediately dropped, with the only repercussions being that Rebecca moves her and Josh’s wedding to a sooner date.
While the whirlwind of plotlines may be indicative of the manic behavior of the protagonist, this leaves the show feeling cluttered. “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” could bear to slow down and flesh out its storylines before it runs out of steam.
In the climatic moments of the theme song, the chorus sings, “They say love makes you crazy, therefore you can’t call her crazy, ’cause when you call her crazy, you’re calling her in love.” This is an illusion that Rebecca has held throughout the entirety of the show’s run, and in the final moments of this season, this has never seemed more true.
In the season’s final and perhaps best episode, Rebecca gets hit with a lot of hard truths and shattered dreams, and rather than confirming her illusion of storybook happiness, she takes on a new side of the title’s trope as the scorned woman bent on destroying her ex for leaving her.
As “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” continues to find its voice, I am excited to see what the next season, and the inevitable new theme song, will have in store.