When the CW first announced that they were making a show titled "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," I cringed inside. As many know, the "crazy ex-girlfriend," also known as the "psycho ex-girlfriend," is a sexist trope where a woman is dismissed as "nuts" in the aftermath of a breakup.
Perhaps one of the most notable examples is from the series "How I Met Your Mother," which uses the trope as a gag. In season two's episode called "Swarley," Barney tells Marshall about this phenomenon. Just by looking into a woman’s eyes, you can tell that she’s incredibly mentally unstable. Barney’s crazy-eyed date wants to have a threesome with a teddy bear.
This trope is not only annoying and exasperating, but also harmful—it should go without saying, but women are multidemensional. To dismiss women as “crazy” unless otherwise proven is not only utterly disrespectful, but it robs us of our emotional complexity. So, when I heard that the CW, a television network famous for the "Vampire Diaries," "Supernatural" and "Arrow," I was apprehensive to say the least. All three are tailored to accentuate their white male stars.
The show's logline according to IMDB is, “A young woman abandons a choice job at a law firm and her life in New York in an attempt to find love in the unlikely locale of West Covina, California,” so I was a bit wary.
Oh how wrong I was, though. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" isn’t a drawn out, overdone stereotype turned into a television show. Rather, the purpose of the show is to explore the person behind the psycho stereotype.
Rebecca Bunch, the show's "crazy ex-girlfriend" and main character, is a woman who actually struggles with mental illness. Despite the fact that she can be frustrating at times, Rebecca is incredibly relatable. We’ve all been where she's been, and though we cringe at some of the stuff she says and does, most of us have said and done those things, too.
Most of all, I’ve never seen such a realistic depiction of mental illness. She has her ups and downs, but most of all, the show debunks the myth that once a depressed girl has found “true love” with a guy, her depression is immediately cured. Because it’s not. Depression involves a journey, and a journey that one must take upon themselves. Other people can help, but are certainly not the cure.
The show is incredible for more reasons than Rebecca, though. For one thing, West Covina is diverse. Josh, the boy who Rebecca follows there, is Filipino. The fact that he is Filipino and not just “Asian” is explicitly said in the show, and his Filipino family and culture are thoroughly explored.
Josh is not the only person of color, though. His girlfriend, Valencia, and friend, Hector, are both Latino. Rebecca’s neighbor, Heather, is mixed race. The show does not treat them like props just to get diversity brownie points. It gives all of them legitimate storylines that make them feel like people, not caricatures of their races.
Meanwhile, we have Darryl Whitefeather, Rebecca’s bisexual boss. Yes, bisexual. And "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" actually uses the word. It’s not like "Orange Is the New Black," where Piper Chapman constantly switches between being gay and being a "former lesbian" throughout the series, or "How to Get Away with Murder" where Annalise says “it’s complicated,” instead of just saying that she’s bisexual.
"Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" repeatedly uses the word bisexual to describe Darryl. In fact, the show even has a whole song about how Darryl is bisexual.
In fact, there are more songs throughout the course of the series—"Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" is styled like a musical in each episode. Song topics range from settling (or not settling) for someone, the long procedure girls undergo to get ready for parties, what it’s like to have heavy boobs, and being the villain of your own story. In short, aside from the cool diversity and feminism and depictions of depression, "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" is truly a hilarious show.
Unfortunately, it appears to not be a popular one. While everyone is more than ready to tune in for "Arrow" or "Supernatural," "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" has been having trouble with ratings this season—despite the fact that critics keep telling everyone to watch it. Maybe it’s the Friday timeslot, a notoriously bad timeslot for television in general. Maybe it’s the fact that people are still deterred by the title, like I was a long time ago. Maybe it’s another reason altogether. To those people, I beg them to give "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" a chance. I did, and it’s one of the best television-related decisions I’ve ever made.