In years past, I collaborated on a year-end Best Of list with various other luminaries from Chud.com. Now that I'm on my own, the list will be more unfiltered and nonsensical, and also separated into individual entries. Oh, and it's scripted TV only (it's simpler that way). The ordering of said list is largely arbitrary, but if strict quantification of artistic merit makes you feel safe and aroused, consider this # 10.
10. CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND (THE CW)
I suppose I am a bit of a bro, in that I'm not particularly fond of musicals, and am finicky about which romantic comedies I will tolerate. But Rachel Bloom’s comedy of mental illness (there’s actually going to be a couple of those on this list) showed no respect for my preferences or boundaries when it charged its way into my viewing life late last year. Its extended, holiday-straddling break makes it is harder to place it on a annual “best of” list, since it hasn't aired a complete season in a single calendar year. But the half seasons that aired on either side of winter 2016 have showcased an exceptionally rare beast. An hourlong sitcom that is also a musical that is also an insightful look at the travails (both picayune and crushingly emotional) of dating in your 20s and is also really, really funny. As I recently groused about in a piece on Atlanta, I’ve about had my fill of comedies that turn up their nose at telling actual jokes.
Crazy Ex has no such problems. While the 2-3 original musical numbers in each episode fits more or less seamlessly into the emotional reality of the moment, they are also, across the board, packed with laughs. Whether it’s a dystopian riff on Spice GirlPower, a JAP battle rap, an exuberant celebration of male ego upon finding out your vigorous sexing was responsible for a urinary tract infection, or a similarly exuberant celebration of female ego at finding oneself the (learning disabled) “center” of a love triangle, each song was filled with jokes in addition to being a lovingly thorough homage to dozens of different musical styles.
While the supporting cast, Santino Fontana in particular, do fine work, this is entirely Bloom’s show, and as both star and musical mastermind she is downright virtuosic. Her character should be an off-putting if not terrifying creature, with seemingly no self-control except as it relates to hatching horribly manipulative, frequently felonious schemes to purloin the affections of her high school crush, or whoever else might fall into her bipolar crosshairs on a given day. But Bloom imbues her with such a vulnerable and genuinely altruistic core that you can’t help but forgive the stalking (let’s call it what it is) and want her to succeed not just at getting the medication and treatment that she clearly needs, but also the love and friendship she desperately craves. We all want that, after all, even if we aren’t willing to go to such…nuanced lengths to attain it.
Watch It For: The songs, silly