Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Is A Delightfully Charming Show About Mental Illness
And everyone needs to be watching it.
If you're not familiar with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (you seriously should be!!!), it is the CW's musical comedy about a love-obsessed women who quits her successful attorney job in New York City to move across the country to West Covina, California after encountering her teenage camp crush.
It's also one of the most important and entertaining shows on TV. Besides being hilariously adorable, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of the most honest portrayals of depression and anxiety you'll ever see.
The situation is a lot more nuanced than that. . .
The thing about mental illness is that it doesn't just have one diagnosis. Everybody's struggle is different. And that is exactly what this show represents. Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) has a multitude of issues that cannot be neatly packed into a single prescription bottle. As she says in the show's first season theme song, "the situation is a lot more nuanced than that."
There has been a welcoming change in the portrayal of mental illness on television in recent years, with shows like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and You're The Worst providing interesting and accurate characterizations. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend juxtaposes whimsical musical numbers with Rebecca's deep loneliness and emotional lability to highlight the complexities of mental illness. Furthermore, You're The Worst captures clinical depression and PTSD in the most relatable, raw, and precise way. Both comedies go beyond the laughs to put a realistic lens on mental disorders. Where depictions on TV were once almost exclusively demeaning and dismissive, many now feel nuanced and compassionate.
Underneath the sporadic songs and the sometimes absurd plot-points, lies a truly relatable story about mental illness. In an essay for Glamour, Rachel Bloom explained how her own struggles with anxiety and depression are infused into the show's titular character. In the pilot episode, her character Rebecca googles, "how long can a person go without sleep?" Inspired by many sleepless nights herself, Bloom wrote this into the script. She revealed that her intrusive thoughts and crippling anxieties would often send her down an unforgiving spiral. Mental illness is disruptive and it can cause people to make poor decisions, which is exactly what Rebecca Bunch grapples with throughout the series.
This is what happy feels like?
Time and time again, Rebecca is seen repeating the manta "this is what happy feels like." But is it? Rebecca often confuses her happiness with the fulfillments of her manic fantasies. Quit high-powered, but unsatisfactory job. Check! Move to California and start over. Check! Get married to Josh Chan. Check! Her impulsivity and emotional dysregulation cause her to make rash decisions that impede on her ability to find true happiness.
By the end of season 2, Rebecca is on the edge of a cliff, literally! Her elated state from the idea of finally getting married to Josh quickly crumbles when Josh decides to leave her on her wedding day. The whole episode takes us on an emotional rollercoaster. We experience Rebecca's highs and also see the severity of her lows. We got a tiny glimpse into her past struggles, so we can look forward to next season giving us more insight into Rebecca's mental health woes. Clearly there is more than just anxiety and depression. Rebecca has frequently engaged in extreme and erratic behavior as well as had intense responses to emotional stimuli. We hope that Rebecca resumes therapy so she can explore these issues and truly make a breakthrough.
We're rooting for you, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend!