Tonight, the extraordinary first season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend wraps up. It could have been a disaster. It had originally been designed as a half-hour comedy for Showtime before being re-tooled as an hour-long comedy for the CW. It was easy for many people to write it off because of the title, but it would be a mistake to do so. Yes, Rebecca moved across the country after running into a former boyfriend, but as the theme song delightfully points out, the situation’s a lot more nuanced than that. It’s a show full of rich, three-dimensional characters, a very flawed protagonist, and a lot of amazing music. In honor of the finale tonight, I’ve chosen ten of my favorites to spotlight.
1. Feeling Kinda Naughty (1×02, “Josh’s Girlfriend is Really Cool!)
First of all, this song is ridiculously catchy. Second, it’s a nice bit of commentary. By the title and the styling, you would expect something similar to Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” and you get exactly the opposite. It rejects the idea that a “girl crush” (or obsession, in this case) is sexual in nature and takes a much darker turn. It takes this performative view of women’s sexuality that too often gets fetishized and in its place, offers up a scenario in which Rebecca’s obsession with everything about Valencia is creepy and destructive.
2. Boy Band Made Up of Four Joshes (1×03 “I Hope Josh Comes to My Party!”)
This song couldn’t be any more made for me if it tried. It is the perfect boyband parody and it’s about psychology. Though I don’t think it’s too likely that anyone specializing in CBT would also be Freudian in their views. But nitpicking aside, I like that right at the beginning, the show didn’t shy away from Rebecca’s mental health struggles. Josh’s love was never going to fix her problems, but it makes sense at this point in time that she could believe it might.
3. Settle for Me (1×04 “I’m Going on a Date with Josh’s Friend!”)
The styling on this is just gorgeous. It’s a homage to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers that suits Santino Fontana’s voice perfectly. The ballroom dancing and tap break and the outfits are beautiful all while the song is incredibly depressing. Greg knows he’s not Rebecca’s choice but he doesn’t care because he thinks so little of himself. They share their self-loathing tendencies and makes them understand each other well and gives them an easy rapport but it also makes you want more for both of them, individually and together.
4. I’m a Good Person (1×05, “Josh and I are Good People!”)
Sometimes, we can need to believe something about ourselves so strongly that we become rather aggressive in our insistence of truthfulness of that claim. In Rebecca’s case, it’s that she’s a good person. She needs to believe that she isn’t awful and using everything as an excuse to get closer to Josh and that she actually does care about others. Rebecca hasn’t been a particularly self-aware person up to this point and that’s especially evident during this song, where she forces someone to proclaim her goodness by holding them at knife point. This song is also hilarious – the “Mother Teresa Luther King” and #humbleandblessed lines in particular.
5. California Christmastime (1×8 “My Mom, Greg’s Mom and Josh’s Sweet Dance Moves!”)
This is going on my regular rotation of Christmas music. It is so much fun and it manages to blend genuine affection for California with a good amount of poking fun at it. It’s ridiculous and funny and so different from what we think of as Christmas music and that makes it great to me. Also, I LOVE group numbers in anything. The energy in them is infectious and I am incapable of watching this number without smiling.
6. West Covina reprise II (1×9, “I’m Going to the Beach with Josh and His Friends!”)
If the brilliance of the previous songs hadn’t convinced me that the musical comedy format was the perfect one for the show, this reprise would have. West Covina was the first song of the series and we feel Rebecca’s joy at being somewhere that wasn’t New York. It was the chance for a fresh start for her and while she didn’t exactly move there for Josh, she was lying to herself and everyone else by pretending he didn’t have anything to do with her decision. But along the way, she fell in love with West Covina. So when the truth comes tumbling out (in the messiest way possible), instead of running away, Josh offers understanding. It’s a shared love of something few others truly understand and in that moment, Josh becomes more than the ex-boyfriend who represented Rebecca’s hope for a new life. It’s an honest, beautiful moment of connection between two people and it could only have been done in this way.
7. You Stupid Bitch (1×11, “This Text Was Not Meant for Josh!”)
In this moment, Rebecca is forced to stop lying to herself and every bit of self-loathing she had been running from catches up with her. So of course it comes out in a powerful but heartbreaking ballad. It’s a glimpse into what Rebecca feels every day and we understand why she’d want to push those feelings aside and search for something more. It’s unflinchingly honest about the negative things we feel and believe about ourselves and for those moments when those voices become overwhelming, this song reminds us we aren’t alone, that others understand that self-loathing. It’s relatable in its pain and that’s why this song struck such a chord with so many people.
8. Cold Showers (1×12, “Josh and I Work on a Case!”)
What better way to musically convince a group of tenants to create a class-action suit to get their hot water back than a Music Man homage? Admittedly, there are approximately 5 musicals I’m familiar with and Music Man isn’t one of them so I entirely missed the reference. But despite of my gaping lack of knowledge, this song still works. And I dare you to listen to it and not have it stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
9. Getting Bi (1×14, “Josh Is Going to Hawaii!”)
I love Darryl Whitefeather. His realization that he’s bisexual through his attraction to White Josh was wonderful in every way and so much of that was because of his joy at discovering or naming a piece of himself that he didn’t quite understand. He’s probably a little too enthusiastic and this would have been awkward to sit through as one of his employees but as a viewer, this was an utter delight. His happiness is radiating out of him and you can’t help but be happy with him. In addition to the joy he brings me as a character, this song is also brilliant for working to dispel all of the destructive myths about bisexuality.
10. Dream Ghosts (1×15, “Josh Has No Idea Where I Am!”)
Can I start a formal petition to officially rename this trope to Dream Ghost? The meta nature of the song would be enough to make me love it on its own but then the song veered into the problem of women being over-represented in low-paying industries and insufficient healthcare coverage and it became even more wonderful to me. It’s been said a lot in my thoughts of these ten songs, but I love how clever the music for this show is. Rachel Bloom has created something truly special in Rebecca and her world.