You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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.

More TV

  • OG Review

    Review: 'O.G.' on HBO

    Jeffrey Wright, the most compelling reason to watch HBO’s new film “O.G.,” is among television’s best actors at switching between codes or manners of being. On “Westworld,” his timeline-toggling android swaps personae so delicately that his performance gains in resonance when recalled in retrospect. (Perhaps that’s why Wright has been so oddly underrated through the [...]

  • Nahnatchka Khan Writers Room

    Nahnatchka Khan Exits 20th Century Fox TV for Overall Deal at Universal

    Nahnatchka Khan has signed a four-year overall deal at Universal Television. The deal brings an end to the decade-plus Khan and her Fierce Baby Productions banner spent at 20th Century Fox Television. The move will see Khan exit from her role as showrunner on ABC comedy “Fresh Off the Boat,” which she also created. The [...]

  • David Ajala

    'Nightflyers' Star David Ajala Joins CBS Drama Pilot 'Under the Bridge'

    David Ajala has been cast in a lead role in the CBS drama pilot “Under the Bridge,” Variety has learned. In the project, when a scandal rocks the medical practice she runs with her husband and their friends, a surgeon rises to the occasion and takes the lead in trying to mend both the practice and [...]

  • A Man Walks Into the Cnn

    CNN Puts Former Sessions Aide in Newsroom Role

    Sarah Isgur Flores, a press aide to former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has been hired to help coordinate political coverage for CNN, a move that generated some pushback on social media Tuesday. Politico previously reported the CNN hire. Flores in the past has criticized CNN coverage. She will be just the latest political operative [...]

  • Gerald Blum, Inspiration for 'WKRP In

    Gerald Blum, Inspiration for 'Big Guy' Carlson on 'WKRP in Cincinnati,' Dies at 86

    Gerald “Jerry” Blum, the inspiration for the character of radio station general manager Art “Big Guy” Carlson on the long-running TV sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati,” died Saturday at 86. The Atlanta radio veteran was affectionately transformed into the fictional Carlson by veteran comic actor Gordon Jump on “WKRP,” which ran for four seasons on CBS [...]

  • Arrested Development Season 5 review

    TV News Roundup: 'Arrested Development' Sets Season 5 Return Date at Netflix

    In today’s TV news roundup, the second half of “Arrested Development” season five gets a release date and Netflix announces the voice cast for “Green Eggs and Ham.” CASTING Netflix has announced the ensemble voice cast for the upcoming “Green Eggs and Ham” series executive produced by Ellen DeGeneres and based on the Dr. Seuss book. [...]

  • LA Rams running back Todd Gurley

    Live+7 Ratings for Week of Jan. 28: Super Bowl LIII Clobbers Competition

    In a shock to no one, the 2019 Super Bowl handily defeated all of its broadcast competition in the Live+7 numbers for the week of Jan. 28. Live sports typically receive virtually no lift in delayed viewing, and Super Bowl LIII was no exception. The game did, however, rise from a 31.1 rating in adults [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content