As most of you know, I am incredibly vocal about my love for the CW show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. If the topic has ever come up between us, I’m so sorry because I never shut up about it. To those of you that haven’t heard of it/haven’t watched it, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a dark comedy/musical created by Aline Brosh McKenna and Rachel Bloom; Rachel plays the main character named Rebecca Bunch, a lawyer who decides on a whim to follow her high school ex-boyfriend Josh Chan to West Covina, California. The show follows Rebecca’s journey to win back Josh’s heart and find her own happiness. The precedent is set pretty early on that she has a mental illness and that most of her actions will end in disaster. But nonetheless, the viewers persist in following Rebecca’s journey.
I’ve re-watched the show at least three times and have forced most of my friends and family to watch it; it is slightly selfish considering I identify so closely with Rebecca and her struggles. Surprise, I have a serious mental illness that ALSO impacts my relationships! But I digress. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of the most thoughtful and funniest shows I’ve seen about mental illness and what it means to find your identity; while it can be painful to watch Rebecca fall over and over again, it makes it all the more satisfying when she does something right.
When I saw Rachel post on her Instagram that she and her two musical co-writers were coming to Austin, I knew I had to be there. I texted one of my best friends from college to see if she wanted to go (it was her birthday the day before and I missed her beautiful face lol) and she agreed. I had been looking forward to this night for the past three weeks and honestly did not sleep the night before. It sounds SO lame but I figured it wouldn’t be such a huge show that we wouldn’t be able to meet Rachel and her awesome co-writers.
Rachel’s two co-writers Jack Dolgen and Adam Schlesinger were also in tow which I was really excited for. The music of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is ridiculous mostly because it’s relatable and points out the nuances of cultural norms in a very direct way; both Dolgen and Schlesinger have written practically every song on the show and oversee the production of the tracks and the videos. To give you a little taste of the tone of the music, a few of the funniest songs are titled “I Give Good Parent,” “You Stupid Bitch,” “Heavy Boobs,” and “We Should Definitely Not Have Sex Right Now.”
To give you the rundown of the show, Rachel twerked on the floor during “Sex With A Stranger,” tap-danced with choreographer Kathryn Burns to “We Tapped That Ass” (which Adam and Jack sung together), and invited the women in the audience to join in the performance of “Heavy Boobs.” They played mostly songs from the TV show but also threw in “Jazz Fever,” an older song that Rachel wrote and most recognizably a slow jam version of “Stacy’s Mom,” which Adam wrote for the early-2000s band Fountains of Wayne.
After the show, my friend and I waited in line to meet Rachel, Adam, and Jack; I started getting really sweaty and almost choked up which was semi-embarrassing. The most recent season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has been more emotionally intense especially for me (SPOILER ALERT) because Rebecca was diagnosed with the mental illness I was diagnosed with the year the show began. Borderline personality disorder is not diagnosed very often and it’s not really represented in the media in general, but especially not in a positive light.
When I walked up to Rachel, I immediately started choking up trying to tell her, Adam and Jack how much the show has meant to me. I told Rachel about my diagnosis and how much clarity the show has given me; I said that I was incredibly thankful for the work that they’ve done and wanted them to know how much it has changed me. She said she was glad that I was getting better and that they could do something to help; I gave her a huge hug and was really happy I got to tell her in person how much I appreciated it. I can’t imagine it’s easy to tackle mental illness in the media and not feel serious responsibility to do it justice; overall, the reception of the way the show portrays mental illness has been very positive and it’s connected lots of people with borderline like me.
Sadly, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend will only have four seasons, but maybe it’s best that way. I am just happy to have the show in my life and glad that I’ve been able to connect with other people who appreciate it too. The community that the show has created has made a huge impact on how we discuss mental illness and I’m hopeful that the fourth and final season will continue that discussion. In the future, I hope that we will see more representation in the media of mental illness, especially in a more positive light. It makes all the difference in the world and I feel blessed to feel represented in an honest and real way.