Crazy Ex Girlfriend Ends With Rebecca Bunch Finally Finding Love
We'll miss the hell out of this groundbreaking series.
SPOILER ALERT: This post discusses ALL the events of the series finale.
After four brilliant seasons and more than 150 songs, The CW’s Crazy Ex Girlfriend ended its run exactly where we hoped it would: with a happy and healthy Rebecca Bunch. We know that all TV series have an end date (unless they are Law & Order: SVU, which will be airing new episodes long after the apocalypse), but the ending of CEG feels like an especially painful loss.
There’s a lot to miss with the wildly unique series: the multi-talented cast, the catchy and hilarious musical numbers, and the show’s singular ability to weave filthy jokes within a feminist deconstruction of love, relationships, and romantic comedies. What other show could so effortlessly pivot from a song about urinary tract infections to a serious meditation on mental health? What show could tackle subjects like abortion, sexuality, the prison industrial complex with also singing an ode to “period sex”?
While watching CEG over the years, I was frequently struck with the thought, “I can’t believe they’re getting away with this!” How does a show so daringly feminist, so smart and unafraid to go to dark places, survive on a major network? Despite low ratings, the show was consistently a critical fave, earning a devoted fan base yet always floating on the cancellation bubble. CEG had “your favorite show cancelled too soon” vibes all over it, yet it persisted to tell the full story that creators Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna envisioned. What an achievement.
When the show launched in 2015, Rebecca Bunch was an unhappy woman in the throes of denial and delusion. She gives up her fancy lawyer job in New York City to chase her summer camp boyfriend Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III) to West Covina, CA, where she sets about making him fall in love with her. Along the way, Rebecca attempts suicide, forces herself to reconcile with her mental illness, and makes strides towards self discovery. Along the way, she also finds herself in a love quadrangle with three men: Josh, Greg (Santino Fontana/Skylar Astin), and Nathaniel (Scott Michael Foster).
The series finale “I’m in Love”, finds Rebecca at a crossroads. After a Bachelor-style whirlwind three dates with her suitors, she finds herself unable to make a decision. Rebecca’s Dream Ghost/therapist Dr. Akopian (Michael Hyatt) guides her through three visions of domestic bliss with all three men, yet despite their idyllic trappings, Rebecca remains unhappy in each vision. The reason, she realizes, is that she can’t be happily in love with any man until she figures herself out.
In the number “Eleven O’Clock”, Rebecca expresses frustration that, despite all the medication, therapy, and workbooks, she still doesn’t know who she is. She cycles through a reprise of all four of the show’s theme songs, as a spinning stage showcases her various dresses and looks. Rebecca takes stock of her life and how she got there, with some of her defining songs.
The defining moment comes immediately after the number, where Paula (Donna Lynne-Champlin) finally asks where Rebecca goes when she gazes off into the distance. While the show dips into musical numbers to reflect the inner thoughts and feelings of its characters, we’re reminded that these musical theater moments happen entirely in Rebecca’s head.
And for the first time the series, Rebecca tells Paula that fact. That every time she zones out, she’s starring in her own musical. It’s a revelation that’s startling in its honesty: we’ve always known that Rebecca had a passion for musicals, and that they truly make her happy. But we forget that, as the audience, we’re the only ones privy to this knowledge.
When Rebecca invites Paula into her fantasy theater space, she is being the most honest she has ever been; a massive stride from the woman who sang of West Covina, “it happens to be where Josh is from, but that’s not why I’m here!”. Together, She and Paula sing a soulful reprise of their episode one “West Covina” bonding moment:
And of course it had to be Paula. Ever since that premiere episode, Rebecca’s friendship with Paula Proctor has been the emotional center point of the series. What started as two best friends encouraging each other’s most toxic behavior has pivoted into one of the most honest and refreshing female friendship on television. Of course it would be Paula, Rebecca’s surrogate mom who draws this out of her.
The show jumps to a year later, where we catch up with everyone: Josh is in a new relationship with a girl he met in Magic Club, Nathaniel is working as a lawyer AT A ZOO, Valencia and Beth are engaged, and Heather and Victor got a hot tub. Rebecca has spent the year writing and working on songs, which she is performing that night at an open mic. She is surrounded by people who love her, doing the thing she loves to do. You couldn’t ask for a better ending than that.
(image: Greg Gayne/The CW)
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