I had it in my head that I was going to write a post about the musical comedy TV
show phenomenon “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” today, but that’s not exactly what’s going to happen. It’s a very good show–smart, funny, sharp, and raw–and I think that it should be drawing a much, much larger audience than it has been. I wanted to write a post that would give a breakdown of the show, and maybe encourage some new viewers.
But I’m not going to do that.
The show does far too many things, far too well, for me to try to sum it up in such a way as to get the right people to understand that they not only might enjoy the show, but that they might well need to watch the show. At the same time, this show is definitely not for everybody.
If you want to know more about the series, and if you’ll like it, google around. I’m betting there are plenty of articles on it. You can also go to YouTube, and try watching any number of the musical numbers from the show, or perhaps start with Rachel Bloom’s song/video Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury.
In fact, even if you have seen that one before, I encourage you to watch it again. It’s a classic.
Initially I was too busy watching the show to really notice how good it was. The songs were funny, sweet, sad, and often were skillful parodies of songs, singers, or genres. I was just going along, watching this show, making note of good aspects here or there, minding my own business, having a good time.
Then the dangerously talented Rachel Bloom reached out of the television, grabbed me, threw my emotional self into a goddamned wall, and I was crying.
I don’t cry often.
I’m not saying that this song will make you cry. You may very well not have the same emotional buttons and triggers that I do, and you probably don’t have the same view of the same world that I have. But what set me off was a painful recognition of captured truth unleashed into my heart and my brain. I’d never seen that episode before, and I’d never heard Rachel Bloom sing that song before, but I knew it by reputation.
I knew it because I’ve seen women that I love singing their own version of it to themselves.
I knew it because men have our own versions of this song, and I’ve heard those playing in my head many times after making a horrifyingly painful mistake. The song itself is part of the pain, the self-inflicted insult to the injury.
This song “You Stupid Bitch” is about “self-indulgent self-loathing,” and takes place after the character Rebecca Bunch (played by Rachel Bloom, of course) has her zany romcom-style stalking antics blow up in her face.
This is the point where you, my readers, need to either click on that link and watch the video, or to consciously decide NOT to. I’d have some kind of trigger warning here, but I believe that the sort of people who are likely to be triggered by this song have already sung their own variations countless times, personalized versions just for them, that would hurt much more than listening to this song will.
When you’ve watched the video, come back here and scroll down to read more.
The first time I watched this song, it started off being kind of amusing. Then it became a bit uncomfortable. Then it was amusing again, then suddenly insightful into one of the largest problem in many doomed relationships (“Yes, Josh completes me, but how can that be, when there’s no me left to complete?”).
It goes right back to amusing again, as she invites the audience to sing along with her, to help heap abuse on her, because “Yes, I deserve this!”.
The part that got to me–that still gets to me, every time I listen to this song–starts with “he sees me for what I am,” as Rebecca launches into a stream of familiar words that have been weaponized against women, using those words to cut at herself the way I’ve seen far too many other women attack themselves after fucking something up somehow.
Bloom plays things perfectly, using the word “bitch”–that sharpened sword of a word–sparingly at first, then increasingly to the point of discomfort, then holding off for one final pointed stab at the end. There’s the playful kick to the side, the “and lose some weight,” the kind of pointless, gratuitous, self-hating thought that occurs to people when they’re in that kind of self-abusive mood.
With this song, she crafts the image of a demon that we’re all familiar with either first-hand or second, and by doing so she captures this demon into a less harmful form. Women will watch this song, and it might sting them, but it’ll sting less than the song that their own demon sings. And the next time their own demon starts singing to them, they’ll remember this performance, and the dark humor will undercut the damage of their own self-flagellation. By skewering this demon in painful parody, Rachel Bloom is creating a tool that countless people will be able to use in their real lives, to help survive and endure some very harsh moments.
And she does this while singing beautifully, looking stunning in her glamorous dress.
Rachel Bloom is a force to be reckoned with, and she’s spend three years attacking some of the biggest chains and torture implements that women are subjected to, both by themselves and by society at large.
This show deserves more attention.