“Crazy Ex Girlfriend” holds not-so-crazy message
In the CW show, “Crazy Ex Girlfriend,” we see countless examples of our main character Rebecca Bunch putting aside her own well being for a man. Whether it be moving cross country to be with her high school summer fling, Josh Chan, in the first episode, or repeatedly lying to herself and everyone she loves to create an image of herself that she thinks Josh will like, Rebecca is a constant embodiment of the crazy ex girlfriend trope: obsessive, insane, and more clingy than the word “clingy” could ever convey. However, because of the way the show portrays Rebecca, the men in her life, and her happiness, “Crazy Ex Girlfriend” is ultimately a valuable piece of media that teaches girls the exact opposite of what Rebecca thinks: focusing on the men in your life, and nothing else, will never make you happy.
Ever since the first episode, our protagonist Rebecca Bunch is in two toxic relationships: one with Josh Chan, and one with herself. After running into Josh on the streets of New York after a brief mental breakdown, Rebecca makes an impulse decision to quit her job as a hot-shot New York City lawyer, uproot her whole life and move to Josh’s hometown (West Covina, California), and quite literally dump all of her anxiety and depression medication down the drain of her new house. Rebecca then spends the entirety of season one seeking out Josh’s attention in one way or another, throwing away career opportunities, friendships, and happiness for any chance to be with him. However, in the episode “Josh’s Sister is Getting Married” in season two of the show, Rebecca begins to truly realize how the men in her life have hurt her, whether it was their fault or her own obsession.
The episode begins with Josh questioning Rebecca as to if she’s in love with him after he finds an envelope full of photos of just the two of them. After spending all of season one trying to deny this fact and date Josh at the same time, Rebecca does something she’s never done before: she tells the truth. She tells Josh that she is in love with him, and she knows he doesn’t feel the same. She says she knows her relationship with him is unhealthy, and that she’s trying to be healthier and make better choices. Rebecca apologizes to Josh, and tells him that she will apologize to his long-time girlfriend, Valencia, for the stress she has caused in their relationship.
For a little bit, it works. Rebecca throws away the elements to her Josh shrine, despite her best friend Paula’s protests, and spends time focusing on her career and her own health. But, just like everything in Rebecca’s life, it doesn’t last long. Just as Rebecca is about to throw away the last of the “Josh stuff,” Josh’s sister, Jayma, shows up at her door and asks her to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. Rebecca initially wants to decline, but can’t bring herself to. Instead, she accepts, but only on the condition that Jayma ask Valencia to be a bridesmaid as well.
Throughout the show, we see the Chan family consistently and repeatedly express their hatred for Valencia, despite the fact that Josh has been dating her for years and is very committed to her. Jayma begrudgingly agrees, and the group later goes to a bridal salon so Jayma can try on dresses.
The day starts out with the Chans hating Valencia, and Valencia hating Rebecca. Ever since Rebecca first moved to West Covina and ruined a budding friendship with Valencia by getting drunk at a club, the two have constantly been in conflict, but now, in her new healthier mindset, Rebecca tells Valencia that she’s sorry for everything. Even though Valencia is unwilling to accept the apology, Rebecca promises that she will get the Chans to like Valencia by the end of the day.
Surprisingly, Rebecca is successful. She laughs at Valencia’s jokes, even when they are at her own expense, constantly talks about how incredibly Valencia is, and pulls Valencia up when she puts her down. By the end of the day, Valencia is a part of the group. Even after a mishap with Jayma’s wedding dress, Rebecca throws herself under the bus to save Valencia’s relationship with the Chans.
Rebecca feels as though she no longer has a chance with Josh after making herself a villain in the eyes of his family, but she is still happier than she was before. All she wanted was for Valencia to forgive her, and even though it meant losing Josh forever, she is satisfied with her choices.
Throughout the entire show, and this episode specifically, Rebecca is happier the nicer she is to the other women in her life. She goes on to make countless more mistakes as the season goes on, but there is always a common theme: Rebecca is happier without a boyfriend and with more close female friends. Some of the episodes where we see Rebecca the happiest are when Valencia, her so called “nemesis” is in her life in a positive way. Despite what happens with Josh or any of the other men in her life, we see Rebecca at her lowest when her and her best friend Paula are growing apart. Despite what Rebecca seems to tell herself about the importance of her relationships with men, the audience can clearly see that the women in Rebecca’s life are who is really important; they make her happy, they’re tough on her when she needs it, and they support her unconditionally.
Rebecca does make a lot of mistakes throughout the show involving putting the men in her life before herself, but what’s important is that the show portrays them as just that: mistakes. Rebecca is a very unhappy person, suffering from countless undiagnosed and untreated mental illnesses, but the short moments when she does find happiness always involve other women. We see how unhealthy Rebecca’s actions are and how miserable they make her, and “Crazy Ex Girlfriend” is an incredibly valuable piece of media as long as the show continues to portray her actions that way.
While it’s possible to misinterpret Rebecca’s actions as the desirable outcome, as she is the protagonist, the message of the show is, in reality, a positive one. When we watch “Crazy Ex Girlfriend,” one thing is clear through the mess: women need to be their own number one priority.