November 12, 2015 at 2:39 am #364875
I hate to be a broken record but I am completely obsessed with this show. It’s my favourite new show in years, probably since Rick & Morty, and it’s pretty rare I come across new shows that I love.
The basic premise: High-powered New York lawyer Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) meets her old summer-camp ex-boyfriend Josh Chan (Vince Rodriguez III), only to discover he’s moving across the country to West Covina, California (“Only two hours from the beach”). Partially inspired by a butter commercial (“When was the last time you were truly happy?”), she impulsively quits her job and decides to move to West Covina herself (“I didn’t move here for Josh, I just needed a change”). The show is co-created by Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna (best-known as the screenwriter of The Devil Wears Prada).
It’s an hour-long comedy-drama, with an emphasis on the comedy, centred around Rebecca, her irrational, delusional and obsessive behaviour, her attempts to get Josh, and the damaged people around her. It’s probably best described as a twisted romantic comedy. It has received good reviews from critics, being the best-reviewed network show of the season, with 78 on Metacritic and 96 on Rotten Tomatoes.
Rachel Bloom is magnificent. The show simply wouldn’t work without her. She’s magnetic and hugely charismatic, inherently likeable, and is committed, fearless and funny. She makes an irresponsible, selfish character, who could easily come across as shrill and unlikeable, into someone you can’t help but root for. Bloom is a complete every-woman, and goes from dumpy (“a homeless”) to drop-dead gorgeous from scene-to-scene – and deserves a ton of credit for the lengths she’s willing to go to to sell a joke. It’s a lazy comparison, but it reminds me of Tina Fey in 30 Rock, who showed a willingness to do anything for a laugh… only Bloom also sings and dances, sometimes donning utterly ridiculous, and often unflattering, costumes for the musical numbers. Bloom is completely deserving of award nominations and I’m certainly hoping she gets them.
And, yes, there’s songs! The show is a musical, with 2-3 original musical numbers per episode! Bloom was known for her YouTube songs before the show (I Steal Pets, Pictures of Your Dick, You Can Touch My Boobies etc), and the show has somehow managed to capture everything that made them compelling on a network TV schedule. The songs are better that they have any right to be, being darkly comedic earworms spanning every musical genre. The show features broadway veterans including Santino Fortana and Donna Lynne Champlin as regulars, and they’re slowly getting around to giving everyone in the cast a musical number. I find myself constantly rewatching the songs on YouTube – in particular, West Covina (and its reprise), The Sexy Getting Ready Song, Feeling Kinda of Naughty and Settle For Me are all fantastic. I’m genuinely surprised none of them have gone viral, which is surely what The CW was hoping for. If you’re not sold on the show already, check them out, as they work standalone without much context.
The CW deserves massive amounts of credit for taking this show on, rescuing it from being a busted 30-minute Showtime pilot. The CW isn’t the network they were 5 years ago, stuck in a rut of Gossip Girl copycats. It doesn’t remotely feel like a CW show, if for no other reason than the the show containing normal-looking, charismatic actors, as opposed to the ridiculously attractive (“CW pretty”) wooden actors the network is known for.
The show is like nothing else on television. The nearest comparison is probably Ally McBeal, which isn’t exactly a fashionable comparison in 2015 (which I’ve long felt is somewhat unfair), but giving Bunch more agency, focusing on her irrationality, and way less emphasis on the legal procedural side and more on the twisted romantic comedy side of the equation.
Finally, I feel I must mention the ratings. They’re awful. And I mean awful. Tying-the-CW’s-lowest-premiere-rating-ever low. It’s a hard show to sell, with an off-putting title, and The CW’s marketing material wasn’t particularly strong at selling people on the concept. The only upside is that the ratings are very slowly but steadily increasing, presumably due to word-of-mouth, after hitting a low with episode 3, narrowly hitting series high with the most recent episode, episode 5. So they’re miserable, but they’re actually getting a little better. But, hey, if it only lasts 13 episodes then I’ll enjoy it for 13 episodes.November 12, 2015 at 6:28 am #364877
I love this show too! I totally didn’t realize no one made a thread for this yet. FYC Best Song “I Love My Daughter (But Not in a Creepy Way)”. I died during that. I also really love Donna Lynne Champlin. She is really great. Bloom is great as well and Santino too. This show deserves even more attention than sloppy Jane the Virgin. If Ex Girlfriend doesn’t make it, that is ridiculousNovember 12, 2015 at 7:23 am #364878
I loathed seeing the trailer for this when it used to come on. It looked so horrible.
You’re review actually makes it seem like a worthy show. Great review. I didn’t realize there was a musical component; that’s interesting.November 23, 2015 at 1:16 pm #364880
The CW just gave it a 5-episode back-order, bringing it to 18 episodes, despite its anaemic ratings.December 17, 2015 at 6:57 am #364881
2nd year in a row that my favorite new network show came from The CW. They have the ratings juggernaut in Arrow and The Flash while they also have the critical acclaim with Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex Girlfriend! Best of both worlds
Now if they can only get Patricia Field as Costume Designer…December 17, 2015 at 8:57 am #364882
I just have to say that Rachel Bloom thoroughly deserves to win the Golden Globe. Her acting (and singing!) is superb and deceptively complex. She absolutely towers over the competition in her category (and yes i’ve seen all of the nominees’ work).
The main problem though, is that people are going to dismiss the show as a silly little CW show, based on the show’s tongue-in-cheek title as well as due to the CW’s reputation in general.December 17, 2015 at 6:15 pm #364883
I hope she wins the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice. That will help a lot in getting more viewers to watch the show. Also I really feel Bloom has a good chance this year at the Globes. I know the show wasn’t nominated in Comedy Series unlike Jane the Virgin last year but they just tend to give it to new contenders. If she made it this far past the nominations, godknows anything is possible.December 23, 2015 at 6:25 am #364884
It sounds interesting. I’m gonna check it out.January 18, 2016 at 12:39 pm #364885
So Rachel Bloom won both the Globe and the Critics’ Choice award!
If nothing else, hopefully it helps its dismal ratings.
Emmy nomination next? Okay, probably not – the Television Academy pays little attention to other awards, is ultra-conservative in its nominees, and everybody knows Emmy voters don’t actually watch much television, let alone The CW. Still, no Poehler, Kudrow or Falco from last year make her an outside shot, especially since it’s a splashy part.
The CW has just put every episode on Hulu for free, so if you want to catch up before it returns next week, now is your chance.January 19, 2016 at 7:37 pm #364886
I love that the Globes and Critics love Rachel Bloom as much as I do! This is such a fun and inventive show that deserves to live on!January 24, 2016 at 8:44 am #364887
Great New York Times article on Bloom: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/magazine/make-em-laugh.htmlMarch 12, 2016 at 10:25 am #364888
The CW just renewed the show, along with every show on the network. I’m absolutely delighted and hope The CW lands an SVOD deal soon so people can easily catch up.
I’m still irrationally hoping Bloom gets a surprise Emmy nomination.March 12, 2016 at 3:52 pm #364889
I think this show is amazing, too! It keeps getting better.