The loveliest of all disfunctional tv-series is finishing off season 4 and with it the end of its run. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was hands-down one of the funniest, most heart-felt and ridiculous stories ever told through song and dance.
In honor of this second-longest running musical tv-show of the 21st century – remember Glee? – let me take this opportunity to give you a glimpse into the best and brightest of the genre:
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (4 seasons)
Rebecca, a highly successful Manhattan lawyer packs up her life and moves to the tiny town of West Covina, California in pursuit of happiness … in the form of ex-boyfriend Josh. Over the course of the show, we follow Rebecca as she turns from The Villain in Her Own Story into maybe Not Such a Heinous Bitch After All.
Every episode features at least two original songs and performances – all of which reflect a different musical genre. To call Crazy Ex an innovative show would be a serious understatement. And I’m not just talking in terms of music. Rachel Bloom, creator and star of the show, mentioned in an interview how her show uses songs and muscal theater to express feelings of someone with mental health issues that could otherwise not be put into words. The music helps to talk about depression, anxiety, BPD, and the added trickiness to the navigation through life that comes with those. Now I call that a very interesting approach to romantic comedy and a pretty cool change of pace in the current tv landscape where mental health is either treated as no biggie or the worst secret to ever have.
Galavant (2 seasons)
You’ll find a quite different kind of hilarity in Galavant than in Crazy Ex. Set in a parody of a medieval kingdom, our protagonist Galavant (Joshua Sasse) has to save his lady from the clutches of the evil king who stole her. But since Gal is a less than heroic idiot, Madalena doesn’t actually want to be “saved” and even Gal’s sidekicks got their own agenda, this typical hero’s quest is not as straightforward as it might have been in Arthurian tales.
Despite only having run for 2 seasons, the show’s self-aware humor and the sheer absurdity of the crew’s adventures stick with you. From land-pirates to jolly monks to oddly sexual fools of the court, there’s never a boring moment in this show.
Hands-down the best song is Maybe You’re Not the Worst Thing Ever.
Smash (2 seasons)
Out of all the shows listed, this is the one with the most celebrity cast – Debra Messing’s in it for crying out loud!
Smash gives a romanticized glimpse behind the scenes of the creation of a Marilyn Monroe musical – beginning with casting the right star. A duel of voices, schemes and condescention ensues between the country-girl-turned-performance-wonder Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee) and the decidedly more experienced could-bring-down-walls-with-that-voice Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty). Beautifully written songs, of which we sometimes see the genesis, and stunning dance performances bring to life a fake musical that lacks nothing in drama and sometimes even overshadows the show’s actual story.
Unfortunately, the show’s not immune to having viewers lose interest, especially since the high-energy songs are often in such stark contrast to flat character interactions. The glossy, top quality visuals and largely good acting rectify a lot of what makes the show otherwise rather forgettable. Nonetheless, the songs are, pardon the pun, SMASHING.
A not so honorable mention:
Glee (6 season)
As much as we would all like to forget this ever happened, we have to acknowledge that, at one point in time, Glee did have a prominent spot in tv schedules and success that should not be sneered at. What started out as a very entertaining coming-of-age tale with a good chunk of high school comedy mixed in, turned into a mess in almost every regard. Solid storylines morphed into a campy tangle that by the end barely offered a negligible tug at the heartstrings. After a while, the performances all felt the same, the characters became caricatures and the show abandoned its message of ‘grow together and meet those around you with tolerance’ entirely as it progressed. I honestly don’t know anyone who actually saw the last season.
But not to rag on the show too much, the cast always looks like they had a blast and that is certainly a positive that shouldn’t simply be brushed off.
And a bonus one for good measure:
Braindead (1 season)
Not a musical! So for those of you needing a breather from the showtunes and costumes and glam, here’s something that might better suit your tastes. Now I won’t spoil anything cause Braindead is one of my favorite shows and it did not deserve to be cancelled but the reason it’s on this list is that every ‘Previously on’ is a hilarious original song complete with acoustic guitar and just enough figurative winking at the audience to make you lol (if you can follow the lyrics, cause my guy is singing QUICK!)
Let us know if you have any other faves that we’ve missed. We’re always on the lookout for new shows that make us wanna put on those dancin’ shoes.