An Honest Review of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I’ll be honest, when I first started watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I did not see the appeal. I felt that the comedy show was playing into all of the stereotypes of crazy exes, female friendships and not to mention those god-awful musical numbers. But after watching the first season, mostly as background noise while doing chores, I actually found myself genuinely caring about the characters and what was happening. Don’t get me wrong, I did still speed through 90% of the songs every season though.

Premise: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Rebecca, serendipitously meets her high school love on the streets of New York as she’s experiencing burnout. He mentions that if she’s ever in West Covina (where he’s from) that they should hang out. Rebecca takes this as a divine sign from above and moves to West Covina, enmeshing herself into his life. 

**SPOILERS BELOW**


What I liked about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend


  • Portrayal of Mental Illness: At the beginning of the series, I’ll admit that I was hesitant about the way that mental illness was portrayed. Rebecca was deemed as being clingy and crazy right off the bat, which as someone who’s been called a ‘crazy’ ex before, that didn’t sit well for me. However, as the show progressed Rebecca was able to grow and not only accept her mental illness but also learn to thrive with it.

  • Complexities of Relationships: We all know that relationships are hard. Sure, there are some out there that have the ideal ‘fairytale’ relationship but for most of us, that’s not the case. Rebecca hopped from suitor to suitor throughout the show, hoping to find salvation with one of them but was never able to. Each main guy, Josh, Greg and Nathaniel, all represent something different for her as do the relationships in our own lives. 
    • Josh was the consummate young love that was never able to develop fully – an idealized love. 
    • Greg was authentic, raw and even uncomfortable at times because he would call Rebecca out all while fighting his own demons- a more adult, but tragic love. 
    • Nathaniel accepted Rebecca, ‘crazy’ and all, while even indulging in it at times – an unhealthy, flawed love. 

  • Real Life Topics – I was not expecting a light hearted show to talk so openly about heavy, life altering topics like suicide, abortions, alcohol addictions, etc. Sure, a lot of shows breeze over these topics – it’s not uncommon. But the way these subjects were approached in the show were refreshing. At many times, I felt like these were conversations that I’d had before with friends or that were intimately familiar. 

  • Gal Pals – Rebecca forms unlikely alliances throughout the show at first to ascertain a better position in Josh’s life; but, ultimately these gal pals become her second family. Paula represents a motherly figure to Rebecca and tries guiding her through the mess that is her life. Valencia, the enemy turned best friend, is as authentic as they come. She knows Rebecca is a mess but also asks her to be a better, higher version of herself. Heather, a one-off experience, adds a level of normalcy to the group – keeping them all grounded throughout the shenanigans. Each friendship goes through a dramatic change during the course of the story – from enabling Rebecca’s behavior to holding her accountable and supporting her to be better.
    • I’m a firm believer in the power of a strong girl group of friends – even though this is something I’ve struggled with maintaining in my own life. 

  • You Don’t Need a Man – The best moment of the entire series was when Rebecca finally realized that she didn’t need a man or relationship, to be whole. She had begun loving herself in a wholly pure way which allowed her to create her own love for herself. At the end of the day, if we’re not actively dealing with our shit, it’ll be hard to find happiness in someone else. 

  • Rachel f*cking Bloom – Talk about a powerhouse of a woman. Bloom, who plays Rebecca in the series, was co-creator and writer on the show. Authentically, Bloom has been diagnosed with anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorders, similar to Rebecca. She also is not your typical main character/love interest – she’s curvy, short and real – something that they portray accurately throughout the show. (See hit song Heavy Boobs from season 2)

I went into this show thinking it was going to be a horrific, hack job of stereotypes but finished the series with a huge level of appreciation for Bloom and the story that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend told. If you’re looking for a fairly light-hearted show to binge through, give this a shot!

Neo-noir & Tech-noir films to add to your watch list

As mentioned a few times, I love films. I’ve spent a majority of my short life watching films and studying them – even majoring in a foreign language in college specifically because I loved French films so much. What I’ve recently realized is that I’m drawn to a very localized type of film: neo- or tech-noir. Neo-noir and tech-noir are a subculture of film noir which lasted from the 1940s-1950s. Film noir was popularized thanks to crime dramas featuring hardcracking detectives and police characters, not to mention the femme fatales. 

So what is Neo-noir & Tech-noir? 

Neo-noir is to film noir, what grunge is to rock. It’s a modernized version of film noir that includes similar themes. Neo-noir and Tech-noir films often feature a post-apocalyptic urban landscape set in the vague future with a flawed anti-hero traversing the story. Other telltale signs can include oversaturation/coloration of the scenes, stark lighting in close up shots (see chiaroscuro lighting) and plenty of violence or tension. In general both genres share a lot of characteristics with French New Wave films, neo-noir is set in the current time/recent past with heavy tones of realism while tech-noir is set in the future and often includes more science fiction tones (robots, etc). 

****TRIGGER WARNING: Rape, graphic violence, gore, abuse, drugs, alcohol, sexual assault, animal abuse

Here’s a list of some of my favorite neo-noir and tech-noir films.


Guns Akimbo (2019) [Tech-noir]

This film was a wild ride from start to finish. Not only was I thrilled that Daniel Radcliffe was in another movie but Samara Weaving really stole the show with her batshit crazy character. Set in a futuristic world where a villanous group streams real life murder as a game online, Radcliffe finds himself thrust into the middle of a seriously fucked up group of people. This film is dark, gory, raw and yet imbued with a strange amount of comedy and growth. 


**Delicatessen (1991) [Neo-noir]

A boarding house sits atop a butcher shop in post-apocalyptic France where fresh meat is hard to come by. The main characters spend their time trying to survive the chaotic building as well as the butcher as people continue to disappear. Creators Jeunet and Caro create a timeless world through their storytelling – a world that is dark, dirty, flawed and intensely saturated.


**La Cité des Enfants Perdus (1995) [Tech-noir]

(From the same creators of Delicatessen) In a topsy-turvy world where adults act like children and children are forced to provide and care for adults, our heros are Un (played by Ron Pearlman), a circus strong man and Miette, a young leader of the orphan children. Un is searching for his lost little brother Denree who was kidnapped by the mad scientist running the city. 


**Ex Machina (2015) [Tech-noir]

Words cannot describe how much I love this film. Aside from fanboying over the all star, kick-ass casting of this film (cough* Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander and Oscar Isaac* cough), everything about this was a masterpiece. Introducing a remote mansion, a beautifully crafted AI system and a helpless low level employee who won a free vacation – what could go wrong? This film will leave you with chills for days if not weeks.


Gattaca (1997) [Tech-noir]

While my mother was a biology teacher briefly, this was her go to film in class to explain genes and DNA. A fascinating science-led dystopia asks many large and uncomfortable questions: what is right? What is moral? How far can science go and still be deemed good? Plus who wasn’t obsessed with Jude Law, Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke in the 90’s? While the gore in this film is minimal and personally afflicted, the cinematography is peak neo-noir. 


Nightcrawler (2014) [Neo-noir]

At times, this film was extremely uncomfortable to watch. A ruthless journalist chases violent acts across the city to be able to be the first to ‘break’ the news on air. With Jake Gyllenhal as the lead, this film encapsulates so much of what’s wrong with humanity: our obsession with gore and depravity in the media. Similar to Guns Akimbo, people tune in to watch the slaughter. 

****TRIGGER WARNING: Graphic violence, abuse, drugs, alcohol


Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)  [Neo-noir]

This is one of my absolute favorite films – not necessarily for the gory storyline, but the acting, cinematography and soundtrack are divine. A nearly neutral, bordering on cool color palette sets the stage for this frozen thriller. There are higher levels of gore in this film than others and harsh juxtapositions between the present and past as journalist Mikael tries to solve a decades old cold-case. Also, Rooney Mara is absolutely iconic in this film. (But I’ll be that person – you should definitely read the books, they’re just as amazing).

****TRIGGER WARNING: Rape, violence, abuse, drugs, alcohol, sexual assault, animal abuse


I’m Your Woman (2020) [Neo-noir]

This film hit me like a train – I love Rachel Brosnahan from her stellar performance in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but I wanted to see how she’d be in a gritty, crime drama – and boy, was it a good film. I had no clue what the premise was prior to watching it and it lived up to every expectation I had. Meet Jean, a new mother married to a con-man, who is thrust into a dangerous journey to self discovery as her husband disappears after betraying his partners. 


Other Popular Neo-Noir / Tech-Noir Films

What’s your favorite genre of film?

. . .

Anime for Beginners

So, you’re interested in anime. Great! While anime gets a faux bad rep, especially when you’re in middle or high school, there are some truly great shows out there that everyone should watch at least once. Whether you’re ready to jump all in or you’re still testing the waters, here are some great beginner anime shows you should try. 


Classics

Naruto / Naruto Shippuden

TW: Graphic violence, intense action scenes, death

Based off of the popular manga, Naruto is the 4th highest selling manga series in history. Both series follow Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja who aspires to be Hokage of his village. This show balances action, drama and comedy through hundreds of episodes. If you’re looking for something to binge in a weekend, this show is definitely not for you at a total of 500 episodes. But if you want to watch a few episodes at a time and really experience the story, then check it out! 

Differences between Naruto and Naruto Shippuden – Naruto is the very beginning of the storyline, while Naruto Shippuden takes place around 2.5 years after the original. The characters are seemingly more mature making the show a little more palatable to older audiences.


Avatar: The Last Airbender / The Legend of Korra

TW: Violence, intense action scenes

Formerly a Nickelodeon show in the early 2000’s, A:TLA and LoK have seen a resurgence in popularity since landing on streaming giant, Netflix. Each show is broken up into four books – or chapters – while the avatar navigates through their objectives. A:TLA follows Aang, the first avatar in 100 years as he battles the Fire Nation, while LoK follows Korra, the next Avatar, nearly 70 years after A:TLA as she modernizes a nation.

While connected, these are two separate shows and each deserve a watch – with A:TLA at 61 episodes and LoK at 51, it’s fairly easy to binge through. Personally, I feel like LoK is a little easier to watch since it follows a more mature character Korra (aged 17) compared to Aang (technically aged 112 – but 100 of those years, he was frozen). 


*Fullmetal Alchemist / Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

TW: Graphic violence, gore, intense action scenes, death, alchemy/magic, war, genocide

This is, and has always been, one of my favorite shows. I originally watched FMA on AdultSwim, eventually rewatching FMA:B when it was released on Netflix. FMA follows the Elric brothers, Alphonse and Edward, as they learn alchemy and try to become State Alchemists. FMA is a steampunk, post-European industrial revolution dream – full of common themes like the seven deadly sins, social discrimination and ultimately, family and brotherhood. Spurring the storylines along is Alchemy’s First Law of Equivalent Exchange – to create, something of equal value must be lost.

Differences between FMA and FMA:B – They are the same storyline, however FMA diverges from the original manga storyline while FMA:B follows it completely. The animation in FMA:B is also better since it was created five years after the original. 


Action

One-Punch Man
TW: Violence, intense action scenes

As the name depicts, One-Punch Man follows the story of superhero Saitama, who grows bored of his ridiculous strength, striving to find a worthy opponent. Set in a super-Earth, overrun by heroes and villains, Saitama has his work cut out for him. Popularized thanks to fun animation and emotive styles of the protagonist, OPM is a fun action packed anime series that functions as a parody to traditional superhero lore; specifically Superman.  


Soul Eater
TW: Violence, intense action scenes

Soul Eater follows a team at the Death Weapon Meister Academy as they try to become a death scythe to be used by the ruler of the school, Shinigami a.k.a. Death. Primary characters, Maka and humanoid-weapon, Soul, battle other meisters as well as the organization Arachnophobia to save themselves and the DWMA. While this is an action heavy show, there is a heavy dose of comedy, often brought by secondary character Death the Kid and his pistol partners, Liz and Patty Thompson.


Fairy Tail
TW: Violence, intense action scenes

Another popular anime, Fairy Tail, follows Natsu Dragneel and other members from the Fairy Tail guild as they embark on adventures and missions throughout Earth-land. This comedic fantasy show spans over 300 episodes, running for nearly a decade. Although the storyline can be a little light in comparison to other shows, Fairy Tail has been a fan favorite across all age groups for the last few years.


Horror 

Parasyte: The Maxim

TW: Graphic violence, body gore, intense action scenes, death

High schooler, Shinichi Izumi, is inhabited by an alien parasite named Migi whose goal was to enter the human’s brain to control the body – however, the plan didn’t work out fully. This horror anime has elements of dark comedy, which make it a little easier to suffer through. The alien race that Migi is a part of is trying to colonize the Earth, by assuming and devouring their hosts bodies. At 24 episodes, this anime is fairly quick to binge, but it can be a little heavy and dark. 


Elfen Lied

TW: Graphic violence, abuse, psychological torture, genocide, nudity    

An absolute favorite of mine, Elfen Lied was also the inspiration behind Eleven/El from Stranger Things. This gripping 13-episode, horror anime explores the idea of social isolation and division and treatment amongst humans.

A graphic depiction of an attempted hostile takeover, Elfen Lied also has a warmth and love imbued into the storyline as well. Following Lucy/Nyu, a member of the newly mutated Diclonius species, Elfen Lied explores the effects of imprisonment, abuse and the darkness within human nature. Hands down, this is equally one of the most beautiful yet disturbing animes I’ve seen. 


Attack on Titan

TW: Gore, graphic violence, cannibalism

After colossal humanoids, called Titans, breach the walls of town, Eren Yeager and friends decide to protect humanity from these monstrosities by becoming a part of the Scout Regiment. This action heavy, dark fantasy anime has a little bit of something for everyone. While there is surely a high amount of death and destruction (and cannibalism thanks to the Titans), this is a very interesting watch. With 59 episodes and 8 additional releases, AoT will take some time to work through. 


Whether you catch episodes late night on AdultSwim, Toonami or CrunchyRoll there is an anime for everyone.

Shows to Watch When You’re Feeling Blue

Sometimes it’s hard to get invested into a tv show and sometimes you just need some background noise that occasionally makes you laugh. As chaotic as this year has been, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to watch a show that is loaded with emotionally heavy turmoil and drama, like Game of Thrones. While The Office, Friends and Parks and Recreation are the classic favorites, here’s a list of easy to watch shows that you may not know on streaming services that can keep your spirits lifted while filling the void.


Letterkenny (Hulu)

Letterkenny is hands down one of my favorite tv shows – ever – and that’s saying a lot. It is intensely creative, witty and sometimes the humor is so subtle that you’ll absolutely miss it. This Canadian sitcom was the brainchild of Jared Keeso, first launching ‘Letterkenny Problems’ on YouTube in 2013 before it was picked up by Crave in 2015. Centered around the small town of Letterkenny in rural Canada, the show follows the life and shenanigans of Wayne, Katie, Daryl and Squirrely Dan.


Schitt’s Creek (Netflix)

Another Canadian contender, Schitt’s Creek, was recommended by coworkers and I finally caved. The first two seasons are painful to get through – but once it gets going, boy it’s amazing. Synopsis: rich family loses all money aside from a shitty (pun intended) town bought as a joke and now resides there with local, small town folks. Chaos ensues. An easy watch for someone not looking to get attached to characters, also full of subtle humor.


Future Man (Hulu)

This one is completely out of left field. This show features Josh Hutcherson (of the Hunger Games) as a lonely, video game nerd in 2017 who ends up being the savior of humanity – in 2162. With fun time travel mishaps, a crazy crew, endless laughs and an easy to follow storyline, Future Man is a perfect show to just toss on when you don’t know what else to watch. I’m also happy that Hutcherson found something else to do besides Hunger Games!


Great British Bake-Off/
The Great British Baking Show (Netflix)

Let’s be honest, this is the most wholesome, satisfying competition show to watch. If watching Chopped or Iron Chef gives you anxiety, try out Great British Bake-Off. Hosted by comedians, there’s a lighthearted air to the competition. Plus, the bakers are always so nice to each other which is exactly what we need more of this year. There are over 10 years worth of this show, plus spin offs so you’ll be able to rely on this cute show for awhile.


Man Down (Netflix)

Greg Davies, a 6’8” British comedian, plays a primary school drama teacher in Man Down. Loosely based off of his own experience as a teacher in his younger years, this show is created for quick laughs. At only 24 minutes long, these episodes are easy to turn on as background noise while occasionally paying attention to the plot line. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love Greg Davies and everything that he does – but this show doesn’t require constant attention.


The Good Place (Netflix)

A more popular show, The Good Place, seems to be whimsical and fun on the surface but actually includes an accurate portrayal of philosophical questions. With a fun cast, easy to follow plot and a few twists along the way, The Good Place is a feel good show. Kristen Bell is amazing as showrunner, but let’s face it: Janet is the best character. If you can’t get into it, please just watch season 3, episode 9: Janet(s). Her acting range is stupid.