Wednesday, April 20, 2016

True and Not True: A Look at "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

I kept meaning to write about "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" and then each week they'd do something else, so in some ways I've been waiting to see how many crazy things they could pack into this show because wow.  So now I have a lot of thoughts.  But for today let's start with the core concept.  The core concept, as expressed by the theme song, is that Rebecca ran into her summer camp boyfriend and then quit her job and moved across the country to live in the same town as him. This is both true and not true. 
My mother used to say that I gave a different answer every time someone asked my why I went abroad for college, and I will say that I did have a number of stock answers that I gave, and every one of them was true (I was told I could not cross the Mississippi, it was cheaper than almost every other school I applied to, I wanted to go abroad but had taken Latin in high school).  And each of those things together, along with lots of other things are how me and my family decided that was the best choice for me.
In Rebecca's case she was mid-panic attack at the idea that she might be offered partner in her high powered law firm when she randomly ran into Josh. So, for any observer, it was clear that if being successful was making her that unhappy, something needed to change.  Sure there are lots of other choices besides moving to the town where her summer camp boyfriend lives, but Rebecca also did some things that indicate some level of planning that get a bit glossed over in the theme song.  (Not a knock on the theme song at all here.  It's doing a lot of work.) Rebecca found herself a job, a house, and made a life for herself in West Covina.  She didn't show up with a suitcase on the off chance Josh had a spare room. 
And yes, she has pined after Josh, to the exclusion of other folks who care for her.  And yes, there are clear signs that moving to West Covina hasn't fixed everything.  But she has also found a way to use her law degree that doesn't make her panic, found a kooky band of friends, and, as her dream ghost informed her when she thought about pressing reset and trying to go back to New York, found herself a pack of people who care about her.  In other words, for all the things that are still wrong, the cross country move might still have been one of the best choices she made for herself.
Rachel Bloom (who plays Rebecca) was recently talking about the show and saying that romantic comedies tend to suggest doing grand things in the name of love are signs of how much love is worth, and they wanted to take a look at what that kind of messaging does, and what kinds of people might reach for some sort of gesture like that.  Because sure, Rebecca could have quit her New York job and gone to work for legal aid.  Or starting volunteering at a shelter. There were other choices she could have reached for.  And the move part isn't what's strange, what's strange is she told herself that it was because of Josh. 

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