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.