Channel: The CW
Recurring Cast: Rachel Bloom, Vincent Rodriguez III, Santino Fontana, Donna Lynne Champlin, Pete Gardner, Scott Michael Foster, Gabrielle Ruiz, Vella Lovell
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is the kind of show that relies on a strong second season. The issue this show has is that it strongly revolves around a singular premise, or joke. Rebecca Bunch is obsessed with her old boyfriend, Josh, and her entire life is put on hold, or revolves around, getting him back. Usually this would be a downside to a series, but the clever writing turns it into a strength. The more single-minded the narrative got, the better the joke.
However, this makes Season Two a tremendously tricky writing challenge for everyone involved. Could the same ‘one gag’ storytelling style work out for another season? Therefore, this season requires a serious rethinking. The end result is a cross between Season Two, being better than Season One and worse than Season One. Song-wise, it is definitely more consistent. In the first season, there was a sense of the middle losing a lot of its creative spark. The best songs were loaded into the front to grab our interest and there were some well written showstoppers planned ahead for the ending, perhaps there from the first draft. However, the middle of the show seemed to just be ticking off buttons. Season Two definitely has a better ratio. There is a solid song in almost every episode from the amazing “Tapped That Ass All Over The Place” to “Friendtopia”. The trick is that rather than mocking genres, the writers should be mocking specific bands. Ed Sheeran gets his own rendition, minus any form of romance. Josh Chan channels the likes of Busted and McFly with “Ping Pong Girl”. Yes, Season One definitely has the better tunes, still hosting my top three songs, but there are moments in Season Two where you are definitely thankful that there aren’t any songs that hold back the momentum of Season Two. Plus Greg’s Drinking Song is something I can play on repeat for hours. As for the writing, it definitely makes some headway into changing up the premise. There are two major differences with the opening of the season. For one, the cliffhanger of last time was that Rebecca had finally managed to get her claws into Josh. The show explores what happens when Rebecca gets what she wants. Can she keep him or will she do something very “Rebecca” and put herself back to square one? The other major change is that the supporting cast begin to move away from her. As mentioned earlier, the big gag of Season One was how everyone got sucked into this singular story of Rebecca chasing down Josh. Greg, the bartender, was subconsciously obsessed with Rebecca, dragged into the relationship even when he tried his hardest to avoid it. Paula, the best friend, was just as obsessed as Rebecca, using her wild schemes as a distraction from her housewife lifestyle. Everything circled back to Rebecca chasing Josh. But here, everyone begins to get lives away from Rebecca’s drama. Rebecca frets over Greg’s feelings, unaware that the man simply no longer cares. Paula begins to chase her own dreams. Even the law firm that Rebecca casually puts in second place to her personal life, toughens up, a new owner stepping in and applying stricter restrictions to her employment. As Rebecca desperately tries to share her wacky life story, she finds herself alone. She might now have her dream relationship, but she has never been more isolated than we find her here.
The clever thing about Season Two is that it knows exactly when to stop the jokes and focus on Rebecca’s character with tragic seriousness. In Season One, she was, as the title song puts it so well, adorably obsessed. Yes, she was the ‘crazy’ ex-girlfriend, but it was funny and therefore good entertainment. There are times here, mainly in a fantastic final episode but truly throughout the whole run, when the comedy is removed from the equation and we focus on Rebecca, as an unhinged woman, struggling through life. Rachel Bloom is phenomenal in the role, breathing life into every moment. It is the way she conveys the emotions. You understand that she is her own worst enemy. Her relationship with Josh is complicated by her over-thinking of simple situation and her inability to express what she really means. When Josh needs a moment of reflection, she overcrowds him, making a small disagreement, an overblown crisis in their love story. While Rebecca isn’t quite as villainous as she was in the first season, her actions are still far from saintly. She is always chasing something that doesn’t necessarily exist. Yet, Rachel Bloom makes you care so much about this poor character that you really want her to somehow find what she is looking for. Every character is well written enough, so when they do something bad, putting them in the role of antagonist for however brief, that you partially see why they do it. Sometimes, one character’s moment of selfishness can be traced back to an origin point that sparked off their motive. Yes, most of the time Rebecca is the one to blame for every bad thing that happens to her. It still hurts to see her suffer. Perhaps the best message to take from the show is that you cannot rely on one person. Rebecca projects her problems onto other people, assuming they will be able to handle it. She presumes that her father will rush in and save the day. She presumes Josh can handle her at her worst. She presumes Paula will always be there to fall back on if her life crumbles around her. When she is let down by these people, sometimes you see why, sometimes you don’t, but deep down, it is Rebecca’s blind reliance on other people that hurts the most. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend wonderfully is able to see-saw from the funniest show on the CW, to a harrowing character study of a girl searching for happiness.
Final Verdict: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend proves it is more than an one joke wonder with a strong second season. Minor quality dip, but the thrills are more consistent.