Binge Break: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is singing the song in our heads and hearts

The former CW show — one of the most underrated shows of the last decade — has suffered a loss following the death of songwriter Adam Schlesinger, who died from COVID-19 April 1.


Kayli Reese, Managing Editor

I’ve been planning to write a column about one of my favorite shows of all time — the comedy musical Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which ran on the CW from 2015-2019 — for a while, as it’s a show I truly believe more people need to see. I didn’t expect one of the songwriters from the show to die from COVID-19 before I had the chance to write it.

Adam Schlesinger (who you may know best for writing “Stacy’s Mom”) died April 1 at age 52, breaking the hearts of the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend family. The show includes at least two or three original songs an episode, and Schlesinger was nominated for multiple Emmys for his work, including a win for the season four song “Antidepressants Are So Not a Big Deal.”

The music of the show is, hands down, the most unique, special thing to grace a TV screen in a long time. It was magic, and I’m sad a person who contributed to that is no longer here. His work, along with co-creators Rachel Bloom (who also plays Rebecca, one of the best lead characters on TV in years) and Aline Brosh McKenna (writer of The Devil Wears Prada and 27 Dresses), is still here to help us all find some music in these times.

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The show follows Rebecca as she decides to move to California and tries to convince everyone, including herself, that she did not move just to follow her ex-boyfriend Josh (the charming Vincent Rodriguez III). What makes Rebecca revolutionary as a character is that she isn’t necessarily likeable — she’s selfish, not a good friend, lies to manipulate the personal narrative — but you can’t help rooting for her. She’s a flawed human being like the rest of us, and she goes on an amazing journey of self-discovery through song.

From finding the courage to ask for a mental illness diagnosis to blessing us with a fantastic Marilyn Monroe parody, you can’t tear your eyes away from the genius that is Bloom and wish that the Television Academy could retroactively give her an Emmy.

The show explores a whole range of topics that feels groundbreaking for TV (even though they shouldn’t be), talking frankly about feminism and mental illness in ways that are fresh. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend also was one of the first shows I remember loudly celebrating bisexually in an iconic performance of “Gettin’ Bi” by Pete Gardner, the most loveable man on this show. (Seriously, watch this song if nothing else; all you’ve ever needed to see is a man with a great mustache playing the saxophone in front of the bi pride flag).

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While Rebecca’s world may be centered around men — from Josh to Greg (Santino Fontana/Skylar Astin) to Nathaniel (Scott Michael Foster) — it’s the women in Rebecca’s life that are the heart of the show. Rebecca’s best friend Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin, who also deserved an Emmy) is my personal favorite, acting both as a guiding voice for Rebecca and the encourager of bad behavior, all in the name of love. Their friendship is also rocked by disagreements and fractures, just as all real friendships are — of course, real friendship arguments don’t play out in ‘80s rock ballads, but wouldn’t it be better if they did?

I used to watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Sunday nights with my roommate Kyrin over a meal of C-Store smoothies, mozzarella sticks, and Bosco sticks, and I find it just as comforting now as I did then. It’s an undercover gem of the television world, and it provides the perfect soundtrack to do the dishes to as you’re going on week four in your homes.

Thank you, Adam Schlesinger, for the music.