Watch This: 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend'

Sunday, January 17, 2016 / 8:30 PM

Confession: my biggest pop culture-related regret of 2015 was not watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend from the start.

So, if you know me, you know I'm terrible at keeping up with television shows. Sometimes it's because I forget. Other times, I'm not home. I also don't really know how to use the DVR in my apartment (I know, I know). I often will watch season/series premieres, and then wait until weekends to catch up online on what I've missed.

Truthfully, I didn't tune into Crazy Ex-Girlfriend when it premiered in October on The CW because -- well, I couldn't really grasp what the show was about. The subway ads and the trailers that ran before web videos didn't capture my attention. Also, October was the month where all I did was wake up, work, go home, work, fall asleep while doing work...

The buzz kept growing for the show, and I kept putting the show on my "to watch" list, but didn't get around to actually watching until the Thanksgiving episode which featured a Filipino-American Thanksgiving. I found the show charming (My kind of dry humor! And it's partially a musical too! How could I not love it!) and bought the iTunes season pass for the show and made a mental note to binge-watch it.

After a lot of procrastination, I finally finished watching the eight episodes released this past weekend, and good Lord -- why did I wait this long to finish it??

My three main takeaways:

1.  Rachel Bloom deserves every damn award she's been getting for this show. Whether it's a joke or a heartfelt moment, she delivers each line with charm that makes it hard to not find her endearing. Her character Rebecca could easily be unlikable if played with the wrong tone, but there's something just so wonderful about everything she says or sings that I just want her to be on the screen more. And that's saying something when she's already the star of the show and in almost every scene.

2. Another person who should be on the screen more: Vincent Rodriguez III. As I noted in my 2015 television wrap-up, it was remarkable this past year to see Asian Americans take on big roles on several network television shows, and not just play sidekicks or stereotypes. I love this Vulture article from November about the show, and this part particularly:
Before producers cast Rodriguez, the part was vaguely sketched as “Asian bro” with the understanding that the writers would assign ethnicity when they found the right actor. 
“When I had my final call with Aline and Rachel, I asked them why Josh was an Asian guy and not a white guy,” Rodriguez said in an interview. “They said they’d both grown up in Southern California near the beach. Of all the bros and attractive men they’d encountered, there were definitely Asians among them who were just as hot and as cool and attractive.” His ethnicity is also representative of a large swathe of the area’s demographics — of the approximately 3.5 million Filipino-Americans in the U.S., about a quarter of the population is concentrated in Southern California. 
“[Aline and Rachel] said, ‘We’ve never seen that on TV before.’ I found that so interesting because I grew up with Joshes all around me, so the idea of playing this part felt right to me," Rodriguez said. "It’s cool to have this be my breakout role because it means so much more to me personally that I’m playing a role that is altering network history and putting Filipinos more on the map. The show is not about the fact that Josh is Filipino, but the fact that it was an active choice that was made, and it was treated with such integrity, is what’s important.”

It's so great to see this kind of representation on network television, and I love that the character of Josh Chan is this sweet, attractive, slightly underachieving "Asian bro," which also describes a good number of people I knew in college (UCI, Newport Beach, what up).

And on that note...

3. THE. DIVERSITY. A Filipino love interest, a South Asian neighbor, an important African-American client for the law firm ... I mean, even the background actors are diverse (there's a Girl Scout troupe in one episode sitting at a table and those kids definitely weren't all white). While I admit the show has some progress to make on Latino representation, if I were to look at Crazy Ex-Girlfriend as a whole, it would look like the California I knew and grew up with -- and that's something I rarely see on television, to be quite honest.

Also: what other show on TV right now would talk about eating poke, drinking boba, and going on a date to a taco truck festival? None that I can think of. I propose The CW make its next round of subway ads a screenshot of Rachel Bloom and Vincent Rodriguez III drinking boba in front of Cup of Boba, and if that doesn't convince you to watch it, then I don't think we can really be friends.

In conclusion: watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Do it now. Hey, The CW is even streaming all of the episodes you may have missed for free! You have another week to catch up before the show comes back from hiatus.

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  1. Ok, you make a good case. I'll give it a shot. That sounds like the California I know and love. :)