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'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' react: Are you happy?

Season 1 | Episode 1 | “Josh Just Happens to Live Here”| Aired Oct 12, 2015

The highly anticipated Crazy Ex-Girlfriend premiered Monday night on the CW and, in a way new shows rarely do, it met (and perhaps exceeded) all expectations. Putting aside for a moment the monumental talent of writer/creator/star Rachel Bloom (we’ll get back to that in a bit), the show is remarkable because of the questions it poses, the subtle way it forces us to look at—and challenge—what we accept as “normal,” and its undeniably catchy musical numbers.

Rebecca Bunch (Bloom) could be any of us. The epithet assigned to her in the title serves to remind us that anyone can be a little crazy: Rebecca isn’t your typical hot mess. In fact, when she’s not picking up and moving across the country following a chance encounter with an ex-boyfriend (from a decade ago), she’s functioning more successfully than most. She’s an impressive real estate attorney at a fancy New York firm on the verge of being offered partnership. She has, up until this point, managed to subdue her desire to act “a little crazy.”

That all changes a few minutes into the episode. The impetus that brings out the crazy and pushes Rebecca to leave New York and head out to West Covina, California, is also the most fascinating part of this pilot. It’s a question which appears in the form of a ubiquitous ad campaign, asking Rebecca over and over again: “When was the last time you were happy?”

It’s a question we typically don’t ask ourselves. We may talk about happiness in the abstract. We say happy birthday and fill out wedding cards with wishes for years of happiness, but we rarely stop to actually ask ourselves if we are, in fact, happy. We don’t ask, because what would we do if we discovered the answer was “no”? For most people, making major changes that would alter the course of our lives is an impossible idea, one we’d prefer not to think about. Rebecca Bunch has spent the last 10 years avoiding this very question. Happiness is not something that exists in her world—a world crafted by a mother who didn’t allow her to return to the one summer camp that truly brought her joy.

So Rebecca does what few people ever find the courage to do. She picks up and she moves across the country. It’s crazy for all the usual reasons, but what about why it isn’t crazy? Crazy Ex-Girlfriend dares us to put our money where our mouth is. You’re miserable? Do something about it. Seeing Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III) might be the moment that pushed Rebecca out the door, but her misery and desire for change was there all along.

As is often the case, though, the thing that pushes us in a certain direction isn’t always what keeps us there. A highlight of the pilot, and likely of the entire season, is Rebecca’s budding friendship with coworker Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin). Whereas the rest of us were sitting at home judging Rebecca, Paula intuitively understands her choices. Paula’s methods of getting answers are unorthodox, invasive, and lead us to believe her intentions are ugly, but once Rebecca’s motives are laid out clearly, Paula says the opposite of what we’re used to hearing. You’re not crazy for following a guy you barely know out here, you’re in love, and that makes this decision absolutely valid. (Paula is likely a big fan of Felicity). Rebecca goes out to California thinking that the key to happiness is romance, but when was the last time she had a real friend?

In addition to the way it flips the tables on crazy, what really makes Crazy Ex-Girlfriend stand out are its musical numbers. Bloom uses her musical theater background to create a television show unlike anything we’ve seen before. She knows the tenets of musical theater are ridiculous, which allows her to use the musical elements to enhance the comedy. The lyrics are laugh-out-loud funny but also manage to say something important, in the style Amy Schumer has gotten us accustomed to. The best part, though, is that while Bloom is making us laugh—and making us think—she’s also blowing us away with absolutely stunning performances. She has surrounded herself with a brilliant supporting cast, and one of the most exciting aspects of the show is the knowledge that any of them could burst into song at any moment and truly deliver. I was still contemplating Paula’s unique approach to Rebecca’s move when I suddenly had goosebumps from the gorgeous harmonies that seemed to emerge from nowhere.

Looking ahead, there’s a lot to be excited about. In her quest to find Josh, Rebecca stumbles upon his buddy, Greg (Santino Fontana). He is kind, respectful, and completely adorable, and of course, she doesn’t even see him. Rebecca went out to California searching for happiness, certain she knew where to find it. She’s likely completely wrong, but it doesn’t mean getting out of New York was a bad idea.

When was the last time you were truly happy? For me, it was 8 p.m. Monday night.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend airs Mondays at 8/7c on the CW.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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