|Rachel Bloom as Rebecca Bunch in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.|
One of the fundamental things that distinguish television series from other forms of art, such as novels, movies, and plays, is the fact that their creators divide up their narratives and present them to us in episodic sequence. This extra time gives them greater freedom to present more elaborate plot and characterization, but it also makes the form much more open-ended, which can be both a blessing and a curse. I’ve written before about how shows that start off strong can find themselves slumping in their second season, while long-running, beloved programs like The Good Wife sometimes barely manage to limp over the finish line, despite having a long track record of excellent earlier seasons.
At times, it seems like the CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend runs the risk of falling into the former trap as it enters its second year of life. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend began as the textbook example of a cult hit: it fused comedy and drama with original musical numbers, garnering a devoted but very small audience, as well as critical acclaim (including from Mark Clamen here at Critics at Large). After the first season wrapped up and the CW decided, against all odds, to renew the show, it began to gain more attention (although that hasn’t necessarily shown up in the ratings for its second season). It’s not hard to see why its fans are so devoted: the first season’s enthusiasm is infectious, and at times it stands out as some of the funniest and most inventive television in recent years.