It’s well known that cinema and television have been blended since the dawn of entertainment -figuratively speaking-, to produce all sorts of musical theatre adaptations. Nowadays, we’re pretty much used to watch musical numbers on TV and on big screens.
From Barbra Streisand to Idina Menzel, ‘Glee’ to ‘Smash’ -even a special musical entry on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’- we’ve seen a handful of musical stories, lovely voices and passionate lives grow, and thrive, in order to enthrall TV and film audiences.
For a musical theatre fan, as myself, musicals aren’t just a tawdry representation of a bunch of people bursting out in a song for no good reason. No, musicals are more than this. They are the most utter depiction of our exhilaration to feel and express something so big that simple words can’t. Music makes us feel the same way feelings make us think about music. Music and feelings are forever linked.
Just think about every broken heart you’ve lived. Every laughter. Every promotion. Every downfall in your life. I bet there is a song that reminds you of it. And that’s fine. That’s the most human thing to do. Musicals delves into this very idea.
So, you could imagine how excited I was when I’ve heard that The CW was going to produce a musical-themed TV show starring Rachel Bloom (Youtube musical geek). I was literally screaming to the TV out of excitement. And, dear lord, was I right about it.
‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ narrates the life of Rebecca Bunch, a twenty-something lawyer living in New York. She, as any other musical theatre fan, likes to see everything behind a musical lense. So, when her ex-boyfriend Josh reappears in her life only to tell her he’s moving away the next day to a city on California named West Covina (only 2 hours from the beach; 4 with traffic!), she, naturally, decides it’s a great idea to do so. Whilst singing a song.
From Rebecca’s point of view, every decision she makes is not (at all!) related to the fact that she’s still in love with Josh (at all!). Therefore, abandoning everything from her previous life to start a new one, in a city that she barely knows, it’s a totally plausible thing to do within the context of her contrived yearning to do some changes in her life. The fact that her ex-boyfriend lives in the same city is just a simple (and very convenient) coincidence.
Thus, understanding this premise, we have the privilege to see through her life’s behind the scenes. Where everything it’s perfectly (and wonderfully!) fine whilst all her cracks are hidden behind a riveting facade of happines and (false) confidence embedded with her constant need of self-deprecation.
You see, Rebecca needs to sing in order to convince herself she’s doing the right thing; to assure she has control over her life. Her constant need to burst out in a song is the only way she can accept the woeful reality upon her constantly smashing into her face. Singing is her way to become bystander of her own life. And that’s really the beauty of it. Music in ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ allows us to learn more about her than any other aspect of the show.
Rebecca sings about the smiling skies of West Covina whilst “this guy Josh” also happens to live there. At the same extent, she serenades her sweet “girl crush” on Josh’s girlfriend whom she only wants to lock in the basement with a soundproof wall and take over her identity.
The introvert quirky lawyer, who doesn’t sings on a daily basis, is that part of Rebecca that everybody in the show knows. Not the real one. Her cracks won’t be visible to us until she (or any other person) start to sing out of nowhere. It’s really in that moment when we can quite see through her insecurities, fears, hopes and dreams. That’s when we’re allowed to poke around her mind.
Rebecca isn’t different from any of us, really. Whereas we all use all sort of mechanisms, to some extent, to run away from our realities and problems, she draws uppon music and long colorful sequences to quench all her demons. And on that precise moment is when we, as an audience, are capable to see that the show is really hitting the bull’s-eye.