Crazy Ex-Girlfirend and Mental Illness

Before watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I really didn’t know anything about it. The show had been recommended to me on Netflix multiple times (probably because I’ve watched Hello, Dolly! more than a few times, or more than is healthy, since its arrival on the site) and a friend insisted that I would love it, but I didn’t even know what the show was about. Then, I found out it was a musical. I started watching that same day, and since I started watching, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has become one of my favorite shows.

Of course, I loved the fact that the show is a musical, but my favorite aspect of the show quickly became its frank portrayal and discussion of mental illness. As someone who struggles with mental illness, visibility in the media is extremely important. All too often those who struggle with various forms of mental illness are left in the dark, believing that, because there are no examples of people like them in their day-to-day lives, they must be strange and solitary—they must be the only ones struggling for acceptance and understanding.

When it comes to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, however, the visibility of those struggling with mental illness is not a problem. The show’s main character, Rebecca Bunch, is a woman at a crossroads in her life—upon being offered a promotion at her successful law firm in New York City she realizes that she isn’t truly happy and that she needs a change in her life. Immediately following this realization she runs into her ex-boyfriend from camp, Josh Chan. Based on this brief encounter Rebecca decides to move to his town, West Covina, California, in order to make him fall in love with her.

As you may have guessed from this brief description, Rebecca suffers from multiple mental illnesses. Throughout the course of the show, Rebecca deals with everything from anxiety to depression, spending large portions of the show basing the entirety of her self-worth on the opinions of others, lying alone in her house during bouts of depression, and singing about her self-loathing and discontent.

Through Rebecca, the viewer is exposed to the world of mental illness, and its many not-so-fun (to say the least) realities. While very frequently the show portrays mental illness through comedy, the heart of the show lies in the truth it presents even in the face of debilitating mental illness and personal problems. Rebecca attempts to get through her daily life despite her conditions and her obsessions, and with the help of her friends and those around her, she is able to make positive changes in her life, and slowly begin to work on herself and her personal issues.

Even though she never truly overcomes her illnesses, throughout the course of the show Rebecca finally begins to confront her mental health, and her need to work on herself, her friendships, and her dedication to her career. And, despite her imperfections (and despite the fact that she is a television character), Rebecca is a real person with a real life and real problems—and she helps present the portrait of a person with mental illnesses to the world through the media—something that should happen far more often.


Image Credit: Featured Image, 1, 2, 3