April 6, 2019

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Finale Review: “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”


This week marked the end of the road for two of TV’s most distinctive, original takes on the romantic-comedy genre.  FXX’s You’re the Worst and CW’s CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND were both “cult hits,” which is to say that they survived low ratings for multiple seasons (5 for Worst, 4 for Girlfriend) thanks to critical praise and a passionate if limited fanbase.  Both also had the luxury of knowing the current season would be their last, allowing their creators to plan a genuine ending to their stories.  In the case of You’re the Worst, that meant a clever This Is Us-like use of misleading flash-forwards, which allowed the show and its dysfunctional protagonists to both subvert and have a happy–if not necessarily ever after–ending.

Although Crazy Ex-Girlfriend also made use of a strategic time jump, its finale went a different way.  Written by series creators Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna (the latter also directed), the hour followed through on the tone of Season 4 as a whole, the most earnest and overtly meta of the series.  Self-actualization was the theme of the season, and so Rebecca Bunch (Bloom) didn’t choose any of the men who were wholeheartedly pursuing her–Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III), Nathaniel (Scott Michael Foster) and Greg (Skylar Astin)–after she’d spent much of the past 3 seasons pursuing one or more of them, often to their horror.

Instead, Rebecca chose herself, and more than that, she did so by finally coming to terms, through the help of BFF Paula (the invaluable Donna Lynne Champlin), with the musical comedy that’s been going on in her mind all along, the one we in the audience have been watching.  The second half of the finale turned out to be the build toward Rebecca’s announcement to the show’s extended ensemble (just about all of whom got happy endings) that she had begun writing down her songs, and that for now this, rather than romance, would be her focus.

It was a psychologically consistent and even worthy way to leave Rebecca’s story.  Still, with the Season 4 Rebecca doggedly trying to make sense of her life and find a positive way forward, the object of men’s obsessions rather than an obsessive herself (for the most part), there was a loss for the show.  Notably, the last hour had only one full-blown musical number (the musicals Rebecca adored would never have ended without a big finale), and it omitted the season’s snarky opening title sequence, as though that sequence and a more boisterous conclusion would have conflicted with the prevailing message.

This isn’t meant to be ungrateful.  The fact that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend existed at all, let alone for 4 seasons on a broadcast network, was something of a miracle, and its sharp writing, wonderful performances led by Bloom’s star-making work, and hilarious, ingenious musical numbers were a gift to audiences on its wavelength.  But this final season felt somewhat overconsidered, working backwards from the decision to have Rebecca and thus the viewers learn life lessons.  The final scene of the series, with Rebecca gravely sitting down at the keyboard to play her friends the fruits of her serious artistic labor (which we never hear), brought back memories of the very end of The Idolmaker, where the former teen-idol impresario presents himself as a black turtleneck-wearing true musician.

The network followed the finale with a music special, featuring the cast performing greatest hits from the show in front of a live audience, and watching some of those wild, exhilarating numbers like “Let’s Generalize About Men,” “You Stupid Bitch,” and “I’m A Good Person” was a reminder of how high Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s highs have been.  This final season, like its heroine, felt a bit therapied and medicated–it was clearly the best thing for her, but one couldn’t help feeling a little nostalgic for the excitement of the crazy.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."