Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (TV Series 2015–2019)
|Creator||Aline Brosh McKenna|
|Content Rating||TV-14 (TV-14)|
|Awards||Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 12 wins & 32 nominations.|
|Company||Black Lamb, CBS Television Studios, Lean Machine|
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is an American romantic musical comedy-drama television series that premiered on October 12, 2015 on The CW and ran for four seasons, ending on April 5, 2019. The series was created by Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna and stars Bloom in the lead role as Rebecca Bunch, a lawyer who moves from New York City to West Covina, California to pursue her high school boyfriend.
Throughout its four-season run, the show consistently drew low ratings while receiving rave reviews from critics. It is one of the lowest-rated shows in television history to be renewed through four seasons by its parent network.
Rebecca Bunch is a Yale- and Harvard-educated real-estate lawyer who works for a top New York City law firm. When offered a promotion to junior partner, she panics, flees the building, and happens to encounter Josh Chan, her boyfriend from summer camp, whom she hasn't seen since her teenage years. Josh tells her that he has found life in New York City does not suit him, and he is moving back to his hometown of West Covina, California ("Just two hours from the beach, four hours in traffic"). Rebecca decides to follow Josh to West Covina in search of happiness, while telling herself that Josh had little to do with her decision to move. Arriving in West Covina, she gets a job at Darryl Whitefeather's West Covina law firm, rents an apartment, and flushes all her depression and anxiety meds down the sink. She becomes friends with the firm's paralegal, Paula, and her neighbor, Heather, and begins an on-again-off-again relationship with Josh's friend Greg, all while trying to reconnect with Josh.
In the second season, Rebecca begins a romantic relationship with Josh; meanwhile, the wealthy, amoral Nathaniel Plimpton becomes a partner at Darryl's firm. Hoping to cement their troubled relationship, Rebecca and Josh plan to be married, but Josh leaves her at the altar. In the third season, Rebecca's emotional state hits rock bottom. After attempting suicide, she receives a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. She begins attempting to take better care of her mental health and take responsibility for her actions; meanwhile she begins a long-term casual sexual relationship with Nathaniel. In the fourth season, with all the main cast members becoming more mature and emotionally healthy, Rebecca feels pressured to choose between romance with Josh, Nathaniel, and Greg. In the final episode, she decides she is not yet emotionally secure enough for a relationship with any of them, and instead spends a year focusing on figuring out her own emotional needs and pursuing her interest in songwriting.
Cast and characters
- Rachel Bloom as Rebecca Bunch, a lawyer, originally from Scarsdale, New York. Rebecca suffers symptoms of depression and anxiety and is prone to impulsive decisions and delusions, and tends to hallucinate when she's under emotional distress. Rebecca uproots her life and relocates to the suburb of West Covina, California, in an attempt to win back her crush, Josh Chan, whom she befriended in a summer camp ten years prior. Intelligent but often lacking awareness of appropriate behavior, Rebecca comes across as unpredictable, selfish, self-centered, needy, and eccentric to those around her. At the same time, she often tries hard to be kind and thoughtful, and makes loyal friends in West Covina. In the third season, she is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and makes positive steps towards managing her mental health, and in the fourth season, she quits her job as a lawyer, realizing it makes her unhappy.
- Vincent Rodriguez III as Josh Chan, Rebecca's object of her affection for much of the series. Josh demonstrates commitment issues in his relationship with Rebecca and is an oblivious person. Like Rebecca, Josh has a tendency to be self-centered and immature. Josh has since improved as a person and had apologized to Rebecca for the mistakes he made in their relationship. He subsequently goes on a journey of self discovery as he tries to find his path and understand what he wants in life.
- Santino Fontana (seasons 1–2) and Skylar Astin (season 4) as Greg Serrano, a smart but underachieving bartender and Josh's best friend, who has complicated feelings for Rebecca. He departs West Covina to attend business school at Emory University, partly as a way to get away from his destructive relationship with Rebecca, despite his feelings for her. Although he struggles with alcoholism throughout season 1, he comes to terms with his addiction in season 2. He returns to West Covina in season 4, more emotionally healthy and played by a different actor.
- Donna Lynne Champlin as Paula Proctor, Rebecca's co-worker and new best friend. As a way to distract herself from her own failing marriage, Paula hatches schemes and gives questionable advice in support of Rebecca's pursuit of Josh, mostly to compensate for her lack of fulfillment from not pursuing her dreams when she was younger. She later begins to focus instead on pursuing her law degree and establishes healthier boundaries with Rebecca, distancing herself from her past scheming. She and her husband Scott tend to be neglectful parents to their two sons.
- Pete Gardner as Darryl Whitefeather, Rebecca's sentimental, emotional and often clueless boss. A middle-aged divorced dad, he discovers he is bisexual and begins dating White Josh. He is prone to feelings of loneliness and neediness over the fact that he originally lacked strong friendships and real personal connections with others. He later forms friendships with his colleagues Maya, Nathaniel, Rebecca, and Paula, whom he considers his best friend. He and White Josh break up in the third season due to Darryl's desire to have a baby, but remain good friends. Although he has a good heart, Darryl's neediness and persistence can push people away from him.
- Vella Lovell as Heather Davis, Rebecca's cool college student neighbor, and later roommate. She is apathetic and sardonic, and lacks motivation for obtaining achievement or self-sufficiency, because her parents encouraged failure and coddled her. In season 3, Heather is forced by her college to graduate despite her wishes, and later becomes a regional manager for three Home Base bars as well as Darryl's surrogate. She briefly dates Greg in season 1; in season 3, she starts a relationship with Hector, whom she eventually marries.
- Gabrielle Ruiz as Valencia Perez, Josh's controlling girlfriend and Rebecca's rival for Josh's affections. She initially had a strong resistance to forming relationships with women, as she saw them as competition, making her disliked by her female peers. She has insecurity about her body image and can be condescending to people who she feels don't meet her standards. After breaking up with Josh, she questions her life choices and feels she lacks fulfillment, having devoted 15 years of her life to Josh. After Rebecca also breaks up with Josh, she and Valencia become close friends. Valencia later meets and falls in love with a woman named Beth, with whom she runs a party planning business. (recurring, season 1; main, seasons 2–4)
- David Hull as Josh Wilson, Josh Chan's friend, a laid-back fitness instructor nicknamed "White Josh" to differentiate him from Josh Chan, who is Filipino. He begins dating Darryl after the latter comes out as bisexual. White Josh tends to be judgmental, yet he is one of the most level-headed, rational characters in his social sphere. He and Darryl break up over Darryl's desire to have a baby, but stay on friendly terms. (recurring, seasons 1–2; main, season 3; special guest star, season 4)
- Scott Michael Foster as Nathaniel Plimpton III, a wealthy and successful lawyer and Rebecca's new boss in season 2 after he buys equity in Whitefeather & Associates. He and Rebecca have a complicated relationship due to mutual dislike yet intense physical attraction to one other, and explore a relationship through part of season 3. He possesses an inferiority complex, feeling that he needs to live up to his father's expectations; he tends to become self-loathing and defeatist when he fails to do so. Nathaniel exhibits some sociopathic tendencies; for example, he has suggested the murder of another character's relative as revenge. After experiencing feelings of loss and abandonment after his breakup with Rebecca, he resolves to become a kinder person. (recurring, season 2; main, seasons 3–4)
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||18||October 12, 2015||April 18, 2016|
|2||13||October 21, 2016||February 3, 2017|
|3||13||October 13, 2017||February 16, 2018|
|4||18||October 12, 2018||April 5, 2019|
The series was originally developed for Showtime, and a pilot was produced, but Showtime opted not to proceed with it on February 9, 2015. The CW picked up the series on May 7, 2015, for the Fall 2015–2016 season. The series has been extensively reworked for The CW, expanding the show format from a half-hour to a full hour and adjusting the content for broadcast television, as the original pilot was produced for premium cable. On October 5, 2015, shortly before the series premiere, The CW placed an order of five additional scripts. On November 23, 2015, The CW ordered another five episodes, raising the total for season 1 to 18. On March 11, 2016, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was renewed for a second season, along with eleven other CW series. The second season commenced on October 21, 2016. The second season is shown in the UK on Netflix with episodes available the Saturday after the U.S. airdate. On January 8, 2017, The CW renewed the series for a third season, which premiered on October 13, 2017. The CW renewed the series for the fourth and final season, which premiered on October 12, 2018.
On September 30, 2014, Santino Fontana, Donna Lynne Champlin, Vincent Rodriguez III and Michael McDonald joined Rachel Bloom in the series regular cast. With the move to The CW, the series went through casting changes and McDonald departed the cast. Shortly afterwards, Vella Lovell and Pete Gardner were added as regulars; with Lovell in the role of Heather, Rebecca's underachieving neighbor; and Gardner replacing McDonald in the role of Darryl, Rebecca's new boss.
In 2016, Gabrielle Ruiz, who portrays Valencia, was promoted to series regular for season two. In November 2016, Santino Fontana departed the series; episode four of the second season was his last as a series regular.
In 2017, David Hull and Scott Michael Foster, who portray White Josh and Nathaniel respectively, were promoted to series regulars for season three.
Each episode contains two to four original songs. These are usually sung by Rebecca or a character with whom she is having a direct interaction, parodying the musical theater conceit of characters bursting into song at significant moments in the plot. In "Josh Has No Idea Where I Am", it is revealed that Rebecca has these musical fantasies out of passion for her love of musical theater. In later episodes, several other characters sing while Rebecca is not present.
A few of the songs on the show are shot twice, one clean version and an explicit version. The explicit versions are posted on Bloom's YouTube channel.
"Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Original Television Soundtrack (Season 1 – Volume 1)" was released on February 19, 2016 in both explicit and clean versions. It includes all the songs from the first eight episodes of season one, alongside Bloom's a cappella rough demos of "Feeling Kinda Naughty", "I Have Friends", "Settle for Me," and "Sex with a Stranger" as well as Adam Schlesinger's demo version of "What'll It Be".
"Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Original Television Soundtrack (Season 1 – Vol. 2)" was released on May 20, 2016. It includes all the songs from the last 10 episodes of season one, as well as demos of "JAP Battle", "I Could If I Wanted To", "Women Gotta Stick Together", "Group Hang", and "You Stupid Bitch".
For season two, the songs were released as singles the day of their original airing. The full season two soundtrack came out on March 3, 2017. It featured every major song from season 2, as well as two deleted songs: "It's Not Difficult to Define Miss Deuche" and "Sex Toys," a solo for the recurring character Karen. It also included demos for "Santa Ana Winds", the theme song "I'm Just a Girl in Love", and "Rebecca's Reprise".
All songs in season 3 were released as singles following their airing, with the exception of "The End of the Movie" by Josh Groban, which was featured in the episode, "Josh's Ex-Girlfriend Is Crazy". The full album was released July 20, 2018 and includes a demo of "The End of the Movie" by Adam Schlesinger.
Arguably the most important recurring theme of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is the show's portrayal of mental illness and treatment. This aspect of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has garnered wide praise both throughout the film and television industry and within the show's own fandom. Psychology Today has also acknowledged and praised this aspect of the show as well.
In addition to the psychological evaluation and development of Rebecca, other major characters are similarly depicted as suffering from psychological traumas that influence their personalities and relationships. Such characters include Valencia, Paula, Darryl, Greg, Nathaniel, Scott, and Heather.
This has also inspired the show's fandom to engage in discussions of mental illness, specifically regarding social stigmas and treatment of said illnesses.
Female sexuality and the reproductive system
Another defining feature of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is its frank portrayal of female sexuality and the reproductive system, both of which serve as sources of the show's cringe humor. In Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, both topics are largely normalized in conversation. In particular, female characters are portrayed as being sexually liberated and unashamed of their sexuality. In the episode "To Josh, with Love", characters have frank and honest discussions regarding female sexuality and clitoral stimulation.
The reproductive system is given the same treatment in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Menstruation and diseases associated with female anatomy are often discussed without judgment. The show's open and frank approach to women's health topics is evidenced best by when Paula had an abortion in the second season and her friends and family focused on the emotional impact of her decision, rather than questioning or shaming it.
Parenting is a major theme depicted in the show, as many of the personalities of several major characters are shaped by their parents' inattentive or cold, distant demeanors. In particular, Rebecca, Paula, Nathaniel, Darryl, and Greg are all affected by parents who exhibit these behaviors. Rebecca's overly critical and overbearing mother and negligent father has greatly impacted her sense of self and self esteem. In contrast, both Paula's and Nathaniel's fathers were revealed to have been emotionally abusive, resulting in both Nathaniel's inferiority complex and Paula's lack of self confidence. Greg's absentee mother after his parents' divorce resulted in him resenting her and helped Greg develop his cynical personality.
On the opposite end of this spectrum is the way Heather's parents raised her. Heather's parents were very attentive, loving and supportive to the point they coddled her and never encouraged her to make anything of herself. This resulted in Heather developing a lazy, aimless, unenthusiastic and somewhat apathetic personality, demonstrating the complexity of parenting.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has received critical acclaim, with critics praising the show's writing, musical numbers and Bloom's performance. At Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the first season received an average score of 78 based on 23 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews". Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave the first season a 97% positive rating, with an average rating of 7.67 out of 10 based on reviews from 58 critics, with the site's consensus stating: "Lively musical numbers and a refreshing, energetic lead, Rachel Bloom, make Crazy Ex-Girlfriend a charming, eccentric commentary on human relationships."
The second season continued to receive acclaim, with Bloom, Fontana and Champlin earning particular praise. The season holds a rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 9.0 out of 10 based on 15 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend remains delightfully weird, engaging, and even more courageous and confident in its sophomore outing." On Metacritic, it has a score of 86 out of 100 based on 8 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".
The acclaim continued with season 3; this season in particular was widely praised for its portrayal of mental illness. The performances of Bloom, Champlin and Foster were particularly praised. The chemistry between Gardner's and Hull's characters was widely praised as well. The season holds a rating of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 9.0 out of 10 based on 22 reviews.
Margaret Lyons from The New York Times chose Crazy Ex-Girlfriend as one of her picks for the best TV shows of 2017. The show was also listed as one of the top shows of 2017 by numerous critics.
The critical acclaim that the show enjoyed was a factor in its renewal through four seasons, in spite of consistently low Nielsen ratings. In three of its four seasons, it finished in last place for the season in total viewers among all regularly scheduled broadcast programs. In the lone exception, the 2017–2018 season, it was next to last, behind another CW show, Life Sentence. It was last or tied for last among adults 18–49 in all four seasons. It was ultimately one of the lowest-rated shows in television history to last four seasons.
Critics' year-end lists
|Season||Timeslot (ET)||Episodes||First aired||Last aired||TV season||Viewership|
|1||Monday 8:00 pm||18||October 12, 2015||0.90||April 18, 2016||0.82||2015–16||195||1.03||TBD||0.4|
|2||Friday 9:00 pm||13||October 21, 2016||0.53||February 3, 2017||0.58||2016–17||164||0.75||TBD||0.3|
|3||Friday 8:00 pm||13||October 13, 2017||0.62||February 16, 2018||0.60||2017–18||206||0.80||TBD||0.3|
|4||Friday 9:00 pm||18||October 12, 2018||0.40||April 5, 2019||0.38||2018–19||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD|
|2016||68th Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Choreography||Kathryn Burns ("I'm So Good at Yoga", "A Boy Band Made Up of Four Joshes" and "Settle for Me")||Won|
|Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics||Adam Schlesinger, Rachel Bloom and Jack Dolgen ("Settle for Me")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music||Rachel Bloom and Adam Schlesinger||Nominated|
|Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series||Kabir Akhtar ("Josh Just Happens to Live Here")||Won|
|Critics' Choice Award||Best Actress in a Comedy Series||Rachel Bloom||Won|
|Dorian Awards||Unsung TV Show of the Year||Crazy Ex-Girlfriend||Nominated|
|Gold Derby Awards||Best Comedy Actress||Rachel Bloom||Nominated|
|Best Breakthrough Performer of the Year||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Award||Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy||Won|
|Gotham Awards||Breakthrough Series – Long Form||Crazy Ex-Girlfriend||Won|
|HMMA Awards||Outstanding Music Supervision – Television||Jack Dolgen||Nominated|
|OFTA Awards||Best Actress in a Comedy Series||Rachel Bloom||Nominated|
|Best New Theme Song in a Series||Crazy Ex-Girlfriend||Nominated|
|People's Choice Awards||Favorite New TV Comedy||Nominated|
|Poppy Awards||Best Comedy Series||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a Comedy||Rachel Bloom||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy||Santino Fontana||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy||Donna Lynne Champlin||Nominated|
|TCA Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Comedy||Crazy Ex-Girlfriend||Nominated|
|Outstanding New Program||Nominated|
|Individual Achievement in Comedy||Rachel Bloom||Won|
|Young Artist Award||Recurring Young Actor (13 and Under)||Steele Stebbins||Nominated|
|2017||69th Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Original Music And Lyrics||Adam Schlesinger, Rachel Bloom and Jack Dolgen ("We Tapped That Ass")||Nominated|
|Artios Awards||Best Casting in a Television Pilot and First Season Comedy||Felicia Fasano, Bernard Telsey, Tim Payne and Tara Nostramo||Won|
|Dorian Awards||TV Comedy of the Year||Crazy Ex-Girlfriend||Nominated|
|GLAAD Media Award||Outstanding Comedy Series||Nominated|
|Gold Derby Awards||Best Comedy Series||Nominated|
|Best Comedy Actress||Rachel Bloom||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Award||Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy||Nominated|
|Golden Reel Awards||Best Sound Editing – TV Short Form Musical||Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ("When Will Josh See How Cool I Am?")||Nominated|
|Gracie Awards||Comedy – TV National||Crazy Ex-Girlfriend||Won|
|Actress in a Supporting Role – Comedy or Musical||Donna Lynne Champlin||Won|
|Hollywood Music in Media Awards||Original Song – TV Show/Limited Series||Adam Schlesinger, Rachel Bloom, and Jack Dolgen ("We Tapped That Ass")||Nominated|
|Women's Image Network Awards||Outstanding Comedy Series||Crazy Ex-Girlfriend||Won|
|2018||Eddie Awards||Best Edited Comedy Series (Commercial)||Kabir Akhtar and Kyla Plewes ("Josh's Ex-Girlfriend Wants Revenge")||Nominated|
|GLAAD Media Award||Outstanding Comedy Series||Crazy Ex-Girlfriend||Nominated|
|OFTA Awards||Best New Titles Sequence||Nominated|
|TCA Awards||Individual Achievement in Comedy||Rachel Bloom||Nominated|
|2019||71st Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Choreography for Scripted Programming||Kathryn Burns ("Don't Be a Lawyer" and "Antidepressants Are So Not a Big Deal")||Won|
|Outstanding Music and Lyrics||Adam Schlesinger, Rachel Bloom and Jack Dolgen ("Anti-Depressants are So Not a Big Deal")||Won|
|Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music||Rachel Bloom, Jack Dolgen, and Adam Schlesinger||Nominated|
|Critics' Choice Award||Best Actress in a Comedy Series||Rachel Bloom||Nominated|
|GLAAD Media Award||Outstanding Comedy Series||Crazy Ex-Girlfriend||Nominated|
|Gracie Awards||Actress in a Leading Role – Comedy or Musical||Rachel Bloom||Won|