CRAZY EX-GIRL­FRIEND

Bitch: A Feminist Response to Pop Culture - - SCREEN REVIEWS - Direc­tors: Var­i­ous { The CW }

Crazy Ex-girl­friend un­der­cuts many rom­com tropes, in­clud­ing the love tri­an­gle,

ro­man­tic des­tiny, and, of course, the ob­ses­sive crazy ex-girl­friend (“That’s a sex­ist term!”). Through­out the first two sea­sons, how­ever, the show’s pro­tag­o­nist, Re­becca Bunch (cocre­ator Rachel Bloom), also re­jects an­other sex­ist trope: women as ri­vals. One needn’t look far to find it in pop cul­ture: My Best Friend’s Wed­ding, Mean Girls, and the Real House­wives fran­chise por­tray women as con­niv­ing and catty, their re­la­tion­ships of­ten de­fined by com­pe­ti­tion.

Crazy Ex-girl­friend turns the girl vs. girl trope on its head by por­tray­ing com­plex fe­male friend­ships. Per­haps the show’s most un­likely friend­ship is be­tween Re­becca and Va­len­cia (Gabrielle Ruiz), the long-term girl­friend of Re­becca’s “one true love,” Josh Chan (Vin­cent Ro­driguez III). They ini­tially play tug-of-war over Josh’s at­ten­tion, but sur­pris­ingly bond when Va­len­cia vol­un­teers to plan Re­becca and Josh’s wed­ding. Re­becca and Heather (Vella Lovell) also have an ex in com­mon: Greg (Santino Fon­tana). When Heather ends things with Greg so he can date Re­becca, she doesn’t blame her friend. In­stead, she of­fers Re­becca sex and re­la­tion­ship ad­vice, and when they are both sin­gle, they be­come room­mates. Re­becca, Va­len­cia, and Heather are able to over­come the past and move for­ward with ma­tu­rity, grace, and mu­tual care.

When Re­becca and her “best friend”

Paula (Donna Lynne Cham­plin) first meet, Paula is threat­ened by Re­becca’s im­pres­sive education and law ca­reer. Yet her at­tempts to sab­o­tage Re­becca quickly end, and the two fall into a deeply code­pen­dent re­la­tion­ship. Paula be­comes ob­sessed with help­ing Re­becca win Josh’s love, and they strug­gle to nav­i­gate healthy bound­aries and in­di­vid­ual needs. Even­tu­ally, Re­becca stops de­mand­ing all of Paula’s time and sup­ports her ef­forts to earn a law de­gree, and Paula stops in­ter­fer­ing with the de­tails of Re­becca’s life. Like all the fe­male friends in the se­ries, they learn how to for­give, apologize, and help each other grow. While so many other sto­ries de­pict women tear­ing each other down, Crazy Ex-girl­friend takes all the clichéd rea­sons women might be ri­vals and turns them into cat­a­lysts for in­di­vid­ual de­vel­op­ment. This show and its char­ac­ters refuse to take the easy way out.

By show­ing fe­male char­ac­ters who re­ject com­pe­ti­tion in fa­vor of friend­ship, Crazy Ex-girl­friend demon­strates an im­por­tant truth: one woman’s ca­reer, re­la­tion­ship, or well-be­ing is not a threat to an­other’s. When women be­lieve in each other and of­fer val­i­da­tion and en­cour­age­ment, they can be­come their best selves.

In sea­son two’s fi­nale, Va­len­cia, Heather, and Paula are all at Re­becca’s side when she learns that Josh has jilted her on their wed­ding day. In a dra­matic clos­ing shot, we see the four women stand­ing

Crazy Ex-girl­friend takes all the clichéd rea­sons women might be ri­vals and turns them into cat­a­lysts for in­di­vid­ual de­vel­op­ment.

to­gether on a sea­side cliff, united in their de­sire to pro­tect one an­other. What­ever mis­takes and tri­umphs come next sea­son, the women will face them to­gether. RAT­ING:

Be­low: Still from A League of Their Own.

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