You've probably heard about the hit musical comedy "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," featuring the immensely talented Rachel Bloom and an insanely talented cast of actors who sing, dance and act in every episode (although some of them not often enough - but more on that later), and helmed by Hollywood veteran Aline Brosh McKenna (you can read an interview with her in last week's LA Times here). The songs are tight lyrically and in lampooning/paying homage to musical styles ranging from Broadway musical to rap, from folk to country. I've written about Bloom & CEGF in this piece for the Jewish Journal, and connected her to Mayim Bialik for this interview with Bloom on GrokNation. (To date, the proudest match I've ever made. Yes, I'm a fan.)
So if you're experiencing "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" Withdrawal, or want a crash course in Rachel Bloom, or if for some reason you haven't watched this show yet and want a taste of what it's about, read on - I've done the work for you and all you have to do is click on what interests you. Of course another cure for "no new episodes" is to watch or re-watch the first season. But you knew that. :)
1. Rachel Bloom started on the internet, then got her own show. Themes she plays with in her previous work range from Disney princess culture to Jewish holiday songs, and at all points, celebrating nerd culture and holding up a reality mirror that breaks down cliches. Some examples of her early work:
- "Historically Accurate Princess Song" - Parody of Disney songs in which seemingly medieval-era princesses yearn for their princes, especially that "Bonjour" opening from "Beauty & the Beast."
- "F*&k Me, Ray Bradbury" - A nerd fantasizes not about the jocks on the football team, but about an explicit sexual encounter with the science fiction writer.
- "We Don't Need a Man" - Lampoons the self-empowerment mantra that women spout convincingly after a breakup while in their hearts they may be experiencing a depressive spiral. (I believe this song is the ancestor of "Put Yourself First," see below.)
- "Hanukkah Honey" - Think "Santa Baby," with Jewish jokes and an explicit punchline.
- "What Would Hashem Do?" - In the style of a Hebrew school-style song, quickly develops into something you'd never sing to children.
- "Where the Dirty People Are" - "Little Mermaid"-style take on the East River (from "Robot Chicken")
2. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was originally developed for Showtime, then was dropped and picked up by the CW. A fun fact for us, but probably not for someone at Showtime. Here's Rachel introducing the cast of the Showtime pilot:
3. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is the story of Rebecca Bunch, a high-powered lawyer in New York who's looking for something more; she runs into her ex-boyfriend, Josh Chan, and decides to follow him to West Covina, CA. Check out the first look extended trailer below.
4. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's songs are funny and honest, speaking truths in ways they've never been spoken before. Here are a number of my favorites.
"Sexy Getting Ready Song" - Skewers what women do to get ready for dates AND contrasts it with how men prepare themselves. Bloom also did a version of this in her Spanx as she was getting ready for the Golden Globes, which ended with the honest admission "I can't breathe."
"Good at Yoga" - In an attempt to show how okay she is with her ex dating Valencia, Rebecca goes to Valencia's yoga class, where (she imagines in song) Josh's new girlfriend makes her feel inferior in every way.
"Face Your Fears" - Paula, Rebecca's older best friend, provides some inspirational courage and some truly awful advice in an impressive and powerful ballad. Broadway veteran and hilarious powerhouse Donna Lynne Champlin knocks it out of the park and captures our hearts. This series is at its best when both RB and DLC are onscreen.
"Where's the Bathroom" - Or, as it is likely known, the Jewish Mother song. Any indignation over this song's broad Jewish mother stereotypes and heavy-handed Jewish-sounding music should be mitigated by the fact that many of those stereotypes are true, and that the song is sung by the incredible Tovah Feldshuh.
"Put Yourself First (For Him)" -Another anthem in the guise of self-empowerment, but in meta-form, critiquing the efforts women go through for men.
"I Give Good Parent" - You might be one of those people who's really good with other people's parents - showing them your best side in a way that has them wishing that you were dating their children. Rebecca is one of those people, which she explains in an often-shockingly dirty manner. (I've linked to the version that's less dirty.)
"JAP Battle" - A brilliant rap with very Jewy references, and yes, stereotypes, but rendered brilliantly. Did I say brilliant enough? Let me know if you need one more.
"Flooded with Justice" - This Les Miz style ensemble number has everything: towns in the San Gabriel Valley, flooding, legal battles, empowering the crowds, and - for some reason - B.J. Novak.
"I'm the Villain in My Own Story" - In a moment of self-reflection and insight, Rebecca realizes that her pursuit of Josh is harming other people. Great makeup and a reversal of perspectives that creates some balance for the viewers as well.
"Dream Ghost" - An airplane dream in which Rebecca's trying to work things out in her mind, with the help of a singing trio: Michael Hyatt, Amber Riley and Ricki Lake.
"Heavy Boobs" - "Dense like dying stars, I got them heavy boobs." Rebecca explains what heavy boobs are made of and how cleavage traps things in it. And she dresses as a scientist to explain. :)
"After Everything I've Done for You (That I Didn't Ask For)" - In the final episode of this season, Paula (Champlin, again, incredible) powers up for a song-reprimand, during which Rebecca realizes just how invested Paula has become in the Rebecca-and-Josh storyline. Powerful song. Powerful voice. And a kickass wrap dress. (I mean look at her -->>!)
Speaking of wraps, CEGF Season 1 has concluded, but the show has been renewed for a second season. Looking forward to more antics with this insanely talented and funny bunch of people next season. And until then, I'll see if I can find some more excuses to write about and tweet at them. :)