Rachel Bloom was among the first to parlay YouTube success into a television series. Bloom and co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna originally sold the pilot of their musical comedy series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend to Showtime, but when the cable network passed, CW picked it up in fall 2015. Despite never gaining huge ratings, it has received critical acclaim as well as an Emmy and a Golden Globe.
It is also one of the most unique shows on TV, combining biting humor, romance, drama, and music. Over the course of four seasons, Bloom and her team performed more than 150 musical numbers that tackled such issues as suicide, mental illness, bisexuality, rape culture, beauty standards, UTIs, and even period sex.
Following the final episode airing at 8 p.m. tonight on the CW, there will be a musical special entitled Yes, It’s Really Us Singing: The Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Concert Special!
In honor of the end of the series, here is my (totally subjective) list of the top 10 songs–plus one bonus tune.
1. “The Sexy Getting Ready Song” (Season 1, Episode 1)
This song in the very first episode sealed the deal for me. I wasn’t familiar with Bloom’s YouTube career and wasn’t completely sold on the idea of a musical comedy series. (Honestly, the premise sounded cheesy and the title sounded retrograde.) But then came the rap break with the line: “This is how you get ready? This some nasty-ass patriarchal bullshit. I got to apologize to some bitches, I’m forever changed after what I’ve seen.” And I was sold.
2. “I Give Good Parent” (Season 1, Episode 6)
So many of the songs in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend showcase the vocal range and dance talents of the cast or are spot-on spoofs of different musical genres. But this is actually my favorite of the show’s handful of rap songs. It’s a genius juxtaposition of R-rated lyrics and the idea of being respectable and quite literally someone you take home to your parents. The visual gags are pretty good, too: Witness Amy Hill’s sweet, suburban mom singing the hook in a fur, chains, and grill, backed by dancers wearing booty shorts bedazzled with the words ” polite,” “smart,” and “good hygiene.”
3. “Put Yourself First” (Season 1, Episode 10)
Between this song and the “Sexy Getting Ready Song,” you may be sensing a theme in my tastes and sensibilities. Still, this one is funny, clever, and spot on. The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it visual pun of a Terry Richardson lookalike as the male gaze is a perfect example of how Bloom and company carefully craft the humor and messaging. Plus, it just drives home how so much of the “empowerment” bullshit women are sold is nothing more than another way for the multibillion-dollar beauty industry to turn a profit. And let’s not forget the Pussycat Dolls parody, which includes some great lines: “Wear six-inch heels just for yourself / If it’s just for myself shouldn’t I be comfortable? / No!”
4. “West Covina” (Season 1, Episode 1) and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (Season 1 theme)
Yes, technically two separate songs, but I’m putting them together because they both serve to introduce the premise of the show, its unique format, and sweeping ambition. They are among the simplest songs in terms of topic and lyrics, given this is a series that crams in a lot of high- and low-brow concepts, cultural references, and musical genres. But as the series explored more complex and dark places, it’s fun to look back at the splashy opening number with the giant pretzel and middle school marching band. Plus, how can you not love the self-referential nod to the show’s title with the line, “It’s a lot more nuanced than that”?
5. “You Go First” (Season 2, Episode 7)
6. Don’t Be a Lawyer (Season 4, Episode 8)
7. “Settle for Me” (Season 1, Episode 4)
A romantic black-and-white Fred Astaire tribute wrapped up in a beautiful song. You might almost forget what you were watching if it weren’t for trademark clever/bizarre lines such as: “Like 2% milk or seitan beef, I almost taste the same.”
8. Let’s Generalize About Men” (Season 3, Episode 1)
This 1980s send-up is a perfect, self-deprecating song that, not to generalize, but most women can relate to. Singing lines like, “There are no exceptions, all 3 billion men are like this,” the group of girlfriends trot out every single toxic male stereotype that gets perpetuated in pop culture (“When asked how they feel, every man has always grunted”), while simultaneously taking women to task for treating gay men like pets: “They’re never mean, just sassy, adorable, and fun.”
9. “Gettin’ Bi” (Season 1, Episode 14)
Daryl (Pete Gardner) is one of the wackier side characters, but this song is a solid Huey Lewis parody and earns a lot of points for addressing every stereotype and trope that bisexual people face, all in under three minutes. Consider: “It’s not a phase / I’m not confused / Or indecisive / I don’t have the gotta-choose blues.”
10. “Get Your Ass Out of My House” (Season 3, Episode 8)
It’s one of the most low-budget, non-showy tunes in the series, but it’s a sharp parody of those awkward private karaoke rooms with the bizarre graphics. (“What’s up with the random rowboats?”) It’s also a nice nod to what is surely a smaller demographic of Crazy Ex-Girfriend‘s viewership: Baby boomer parents with adult children living at home: “I’m not in the mood to keep buying your food.”
Honorable mention: “I’m Just a Girl in Love” (Season 2 theme)
This song was short and sweet, and I wouldn’t mind at all if the series went out with Bloom’s face breaking through hearts with a “Blam!”