Trigger Warning: Mental illness, including Borderline Personality Disorder, will be mentioned in this article.
As someone who has been watching television for most of the last twenty years, it is a rare treat when a new show is so honest and relatable that it makes an impact on my life and makes me more self-aware, rather than just entertain me while I procrastinate on my homework.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on the CW is an absolute work of genius that’s managed to both get catchy songs in my head and make me contemplate my own mental health and patterns of behavior.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a show about a woman named Rebecca Bunch who runs into an old boyfriend from her teenage years and decides on a whim to leave her entire life in New York to follow him to California in attempt to rekindle their romance. Through the eyes of Rebecca, who is the main point of view the audience observes, Rebecca is in the middle of a grand romantic comedy for her one true love.
However, it also shows things from the perspective of other people in Rebecca’s life, such as her new coworkers and friends who see Rebecca pursue her quest for love. It is through the other perspectives that remind us this isn’t a grand love story, Rebecca is an unhappy woman who made an insane and unhealthy decision to completely abandon her life for a man she hasn’t even spoken to in over ten years.
The show has taken many typical romantic comedy tropes and turned them on their head, imparting more real-life insight to things, such as humanizing the “evil girlfriend in the way of the main couple being together” as a woman with her own issues and insecurities to deal with, along with the “best friend/Sidekick for the lead to help them get their person of interest” who is using Rebecca’s love life to avoid her own unhappy marriage and unsatisfactory lifestyle. It shows “perfect hot guys who don’t have real problems” aren’t perfect, they’re still people who have insecurities and traumas just like everyone else, and their appearance shouldn’t make their issues less valid.
The show talks about how people interact with each other in odd ways conditioned for them to always be competing when they should be trying to stay together and build each other up. The show often also points out the very unhealthy patterns of behavior Rebecca displays, despite her seeing the world in bright colors and romanticizing everything she does.
Also, a very creative way they present some of the biggest moments in the show are through fantastic musical numbers that take place in Rebecca’s head. As a huge fan of musical theatre, this is one of my favorite aspects of the show. Normally, these are upbeat and funny performances by the entire cast, which I think is one of the brightest highlights of the show. It also uses dark comedy to present very real and relatable truths plenty of people are able to relate to, and I have had yet to show anyone a Crazy Ex-Girlfriend song that they didn’t laugh at.
However, the main reason I love and appreciate this show is because of its relationship to mental health. From the first episode, I felt an odd kinship with Rebecca Bunch. While I may not leave my entire life to follow an old flame, nor would I ever stalk someone I claimed to care for or try to sabotage their relationship, I absolutely understand what it’s like to get so tied up in your feelings you end up over-romanticizing things instead of being aware of the effects your actions have.
I was able to figure out early on what exact mental illness Rebecca suffers from because it’s the same as mine. Rebecca has Borderline Personality Disorder, a horrible mental condition that causes people to do and behave in sometimes outrageous ways based on two simple things. First, the person suffering from BPD wants to feel normal and happy, because it seems everyone else somehow manages to do so with ease. Second, the person suffering from BPD would do literally anything to avoid being abandoned, because they genuinely believe everyone they care for will abandon them.
As someone who knows the pain of this all too well, it’s easy for me to understand Rebecca and why she does some of the “crazy” things she does. BPD isn’t the only mental disorder the show tackles, but it is the main one. The show uses its characters to show any real patterns all different kinds of people make that aren’t healthy to show that everyone struggles with things that would categorize them as “crazy”. It’s an open conversation about specifically love and happiness, and why it can cause people to act in unhealthy ways and has presented one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned. Nobody is normal, we must recognize our unhealthy patterns, and learn to break them.
“Because life is a gradual series of revelations that occur over a period of time. Some things might happen that seem connected, but there’s not always a reason or rhyme. People aren’t characters, they’re complicated and their choices don’t always make sense.” These are the lyrics of one of the more serious songs from the show and is one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard.
This show has helped me realize some unhealthy patterns I held as well, and learn how to acknowledge and work on breaking them. I would recommend this show to everyone and believe strongly everyone could benefit from the lessons this show presents. Everyone has patterns, and everyone is crazy, and it’s for those reasons that maybe we aren’t that crazy after all. We aren’t characters, we’re people who are destined to make mistakes. What’s important is how we learn from them, and use them as tools to get better.