In its very early days, Crazy Ex- Girlfriendprompted chatter online that it was anti-feminist. Thanks in large part to its tittle, some people said it perpetuated an old, dangerous notion of women as unstable and man-obsessed rather than in control of their own lives.
The irony that the title's irony went over people's heads took Crazy's producer Aline Brosh McKenna by surprise. "It didn't occur to us at all," she said, adding that, in retrospect, she and her collaborators might have been naive and they'd never do a show that wasn't a send-up of those tropes. After all, the show is not only a three-dimensional, compassionate portrayal of a modern woman, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) — but the show is written and produced by what McKenna calls "super-outspoken feminists."
Nominated for a Golden Globe, Crazy's critical success is a very good look for the show and the team. And with its sister show on the CW network, Jane the Virgin, also written and produced by women, the pair of programs is a testament to the very good things that result when women get to tell and control their own narratives.
"It's really a nice destination for female-driven comedic dramas," Jennie Snyder Urman, producer of Jane, said of the CW. "I feel a sense of pride. I'm proud of the little things we do on the show — all the small choices," like making the directors within the show women. Jane's writer's room is a forum for women to share stories: With the joys and challenges of motherhood an integral part of the Jane story this season, even the men in the writer's room are now able to give breastfeeding tips, she joked.
In the Crazy writing room, discussions about giving Rebecca and her mental-health issues some context were important. Its hilarious black-and-white "The Sexy French Depression" song, for example, started with how they could play with the cliché of women's depression as sexualized — "sexy and bummed out," McKenna called it, particularly in music videos. "What's great is that young girls are able to watch this show," she said, something that may not have been possible on Showtime, its initial home before going to CW.
Of course, there's much more going on in the shows than women's issues: On Jane this season, we'll see a build-up to her wedding, a health crisis among someone in the cast, Rogelio launching his next telenovela in which he time-travels and solves problems. Crazy, returning Jan. 25,will feature more zany songs, including a Latin pop ditty, an '80s metal tune, a take on the Disney villain tune and an appearance by Filipino star Lea Salonga.
Their telling of women's stories in a smart, compassionate and hilarious way gives them both immense joy - and a connection. McKenna said that the minute she got word she'd be doing the CW show, she got Jennie's number to ask about juggling the workload and motherhood. That makes them comrades, and like many other women around the world. "She's been a great resource," McKenna said, "Sometimes I call her, like, 'Dude!"
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend returns Monday Jan. 25 at 8/7c. Jane the Virgin airs Mondays at 9/8c