×

Review: ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ Finishes Terrific Season on a High Note (SPOILERS)

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” certainly didn’t have much of a ratings pedigree to back up the CW’s decision to renew the show. But it did prove to be one of the year’s best new programs, a musical romantic comedy that proved endlessly inventive in its lyrics and gutsy in its approach to a “broken inside” leading lady. The season finale, moreover, took additional chances, offering a plethora of possibilities as the series looks to find a little more love — from viewers, that is — in season two.

The series was rather famously developed for Showtime, and in some respects, those pay cable sensibilities — and the more rarefied audience they usually invite — never left it. Yet while this wasn’t going to be a show for everybody (people with an avid taste for musical theater amount to a subset of the network-TV crowd), its comedic sensibilities and sense of melancholy made it such a perfect companion to “Jane the Virgin” as to seemingly justify CW’s leap of faith.

Having impulsively uprooted herself from a New York career to chase a perceived chance at love in West Covina, Cal., Rebecca (star and co-creator Rachel Bloom) spent the better part of the season pining for Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III), the one-time boyfriend she identified as the potential solution to her unhappiness. In the finale, however (and SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t watched), she landed the big game, only to produce almost immediate pangs of concern in him when, in the midst of a romantic clinch, she confessed, “I just knew you were the answer to all my problems.”

That’s a lot of weight for any relationship to bear, and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” had the audacity to present Rebecca’s twisted psyche warts and all. Where the show really excelled, though, was in making everyone around her just a little bit crazy, if not quite broken, but still lovable — from the commitment-phobic Greg (Santino Fontana), Josh’s pal, whose attraction to Rebecca couldn’t quite overcome his cynicism and snark; to Rebecca’s co-worker Paula (Donna Lynn Champlin), who became so emotionally invested in seeing this romantic fable fulfilled as to lose all perspective over whether Josh would be Rebecca’s prize or theirs.

The songs, meanwhile — a hurdle for every series to brave this on a weekly basis, from “Cop Rock” to “Smash” to (most recently) “Galavant” — were not only consistently clever and funny but actually managed to advance the story. The writers also operated in a host of musical genres, although Rebecca’s attempt to warble the equivalent of a Disney princess-type ballad fell intentionally flat, since this is a show about the illusions and unrealistic expectations we forge around the concept of happiness, not the “ever after” part of it.

In that regard, Josh’s pained expression in the closing moments brought back memories of “The Graduate,” where what would normally be the uplifting ending yields unsettled questions — and second thoughts — about what comes next.

Even with the renewal, of course, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is hardly out of the woods. CW has enjoyed enough success on its terms to take a flyer on a series that its executives understandably loved, but unless word of mouth and critical accolades inspire more sampling, the network won’t be able to sustain the show as a charitable endeavor.

On the plus side, the show not only maintained an impressive level of quality throughout its run, but consistently improved by fleshing out supporting players like Darryl (Pete Gardner), Valencia (Gabrielle Ruiz) and Heather (Vella Lovell). So while Rebecca might have thrown away that New York job to look for love in the wrong place, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” gave those who watched it an awful lot to love. The trick now, in TV terms, will be whether it’s possible to inspire a few more folks to make a commitment.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Masters of the Universe: Revelation

    Kevin Smith Announces Anime 'He-Man' Series for Netflix

    Kevin Smith surprised audiences at Sunday’s annual Power-Con convention by announcing a new anime “He-Man” series for Netflix. The new series, titled “Masters of the Universe: Revelation,” will take place in the Mattel toy inspired world and will focus on some of the unresolved storylines of the classic ‘80s show. Smith will serve as showrunner [...]

  • T.J. Dillashaw, right, kicks Cody Garbrandt

    Disney Plans UFC Broadcast for FX

    UFC matches will return to FX  – but not on a permanent basis. ESPN has been showing preliminary bouts to UFC pay-per-view events for the last while on ESPN and ESPN2, and then showing the main card on its ESPN+ subscription video service. In September, the early lineup will air on FX, which the UFC [...]

  • George RR Martin

    George R.R. Martin Says HBO's 'Game of Thrones' Ending Won't Influence Future Novels

    Geroge R.R. Martin is sticking to his original plan when it comes to the future of “Game of Thrones.” In an interview with The Observer, Martin claimed that HBO’s controversial ending for the series would have no affect on the endings of the last two novels. “No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t change anything at all,” [...]

  • Listen: 'Pennyworth' Producer Talks Delving into

    Listen: 'Pennyworth' Executive Producer Talks Delving into Alfred's Backstory

    Bruno Heller may have served as an executive producer on the Batman-inspired series “Gotham” for the past five years, but it’s actually real-life people (not superheroes) that intrigue the producer the most. It’s for that exact reason that Heller’s newest series finds him exploring the origin stories of Batman’s butler Alfred in the Epix drama [...]

  • "Trust Issues" - Dylan and Lizzie

    'Instinct' Canceled After Two Seasons

    CBS has canceled “Instinct” after two seasons. Series creator Michael Rauch announced the cancellation Friday on Twitter, writing, “I’m very sad to relay the news that @instinctcbs won’t be renewed for a 3rd season. We will double up this Sunday and our season/series finale will be Aug 25.” Rauch also thanked series stars Alan Cumming [...]

  • Maisel Day

    My Mostly OK Maisel Day (Column)

    When Amazon announced its first-ever Maisel Day, I was intrigued. For one day, Aug. 15, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” fans and Angelenos (fangelenos?) could hit up various restaurants, theaters and retailers throughout Los Angeles for special deals, all at 1959 prices. Among the gems: $2.50 makeovers, $0.99 pastrami sandwiches and $0.30 for a gallon of [...]

  • Nordisk Film & TV Fond Announces

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond Backs Joachim Trier, Ole Bornedal, Yellow Bird

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond has announced three features, two series and a documentary set to receive $1.4m in financing, as well as distribution, dubbing and cultural initiative support recipients. Doing so, it highlights some of the key titles moving forward in the Nordic region. Already backed by the Danish Film Institute’s largest ever grant [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content