The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend returns with compelling character-based humor.
Premiering last Fall, The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend seemed an insane gambit. A musical comedy about a woman chasing an old summer fling, the show garnered bonus points for originality. Nothing else on television compared, and, like a flaming car wreck, you couldn’t look away. Funny thing, the show was anything but a flaming car wreck, and it eventually won the prestige-starved network two Emmys.
Now, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend returns with a second season set to answer one very important question. Can writer/star Rachel Bloom continue this insane high-wire act? Good news from the Magic 8 ball (and this reviewer). All signs point to yes.
We open 15 minutes after Season 1’s closer in which Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) foolishly confided in love Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez II) that she’d moved to West Covina, California, for him. Freaked out, Josh immediately starts pulling away. Rebecca relies on her shrew legal skills (and takes advantage of the amiably dim-witted Josh) to flip the script, and she convinces Josh he’s in the wrong. The bulk of the pilot explores the tenuous, awkward, and admittedly passionate relationship between Rebecca and Josh. Best friend Paula (the great Donna Lynne Champlin) watches from the sidelines with horror, addicted to the relationship drama. Meanwhile, ex-flame Greg (Santino Fontana) disappears after his drunken season finale escapade.
The biggest surprise
I love Crazy Ex-Girlfriend for exploring its characters’ neuroses. Not just exploring them, but pushing them into the limelight for all to see. These characters evolve and avoid the stagnation that often plagues sitcom stereotypes. Sure, Rebecca remains the catalyst for most of the action, and Rachel Bloom’s performance remains as sharp, funny, and poignant as ever before (damn you, Emmys). Yet, we also explore the frailties of Paula, Greg, and even the perma-sunny Josh Chan. Season 2 clearly wants to redefine its core characters in realistic ways, and that’s the hallmark of a great show.
The episode’s two musical numbers (the Beyonce-inspired “Love Kernels” and “We Should Definitely Not Have Sex Right Now”) are also pretty great – particularly “Love Kernels,” which balances the sexy and the ridiculous ridiculously well. It even offers an amusing meta commentary on the production budget.
To its dedicated fans, it will be no surprise that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend returns in Season 2 every bit the great comedy it was in Season 1. What does surprise, though, is the mature balance of comedy and emotional growth the show manages to sustain over its premiere hour. The hour was a welcome return to a show that continues to surprise and entertain. Bravo, guys. Bravo.