Jane the Virgin is a show about a young woman who is accidentally artificially inseminated with a strange man’s sperm. And Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a show about a young woman who gives up her seemingly perfect life and moves across the country after a brief encounter with a man she had a summer fling with when she was 16 years old. They sound absolutely insane—and they are.
But both shows are some of the best television on the entire landscape right now.
The purported Golden Age of Television brought with it drab comedies and even moodier dramas. True Detective season two anyone? (Just kidding, I didn’t watch that. Season one was terrible enough.)
But the color and vibrancy Jane and Ex-Girlfriend bring to the screen are a breath of fresh air. And… let’s just say it: they’re both f***ing weird.
I’m totally into it.
That was a musical number about bringing home a one-night stand, smelling his genitals, and hoping he’s not a murderer. And that kind of scene is par for the course on the show.
I knew Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was something special when, before the first commercial break during the pilot, Rebecca is told she’s about to become a junior partner at her law firm—and the first thing she does is run outside and begins dry-heaving. That near-allergic reaction to success, especially in a field you’re not happy in, was one of the most relatable vignettes I had ever seen on television.
That said, on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the title isn’t (just) a sexist term (like Rebecca mentions every opening credits); it’s actually, well, true.
With all of the vibrancy, the musical numbers, and the laugh-out-loud moments, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is probably the darkest show on television at the moment. It’s dealing with mental health issues in the most subversive way possible, yet it’s addressing those issues head-on. Neuroses isn’t just a cute quirk on this show.
In a recent episode, Rebecca makes a life-altering decision based off a butter commercial (for the second time; the first was when she moved from New York City to West Covina, California). During a date with Greg (pictured above), she ditches him and has a one-night stand with a stranger. And when she’s called out on it, she has a complete breakdown; she acknowledges that her thought process is screwed up, that she isn’t “normal.”
Don’t even get me started on her incessant denial that she ditched her entire life on the east coast for Josh, her ex when she was 16.
And do I even have to get into how strange Jane the Virgin is? You’ve probably read an entire season’s worth of think pieces on this very topic. But just in case:
Jane is still unlike any show on television right now. It’s a whirlwind, women are getting pregnant with turkey basters, people are getting kidnapped, and Jane still has her usual hallucinations (literally walking on air).
And just like season one, season two keeps all the characters’ actions in a certain reality that grounds the entire series. Those actions still suprise.
Instead of a complete meltdown once Rafael and Jane found out that Petra impregnated herself, they exhibited a certain calm that was unprecedented, but made perfect sense. (I mean, how else can you act in this situation?) The way the show has treated that storyline alone makes me appreciate Jane the Virgin’s knack for whimsy even more—they don’t just aim to suprise with plot twists, but with deeply rooted characterizations, too. That is simply one of many reasons why I believe it is the best comedy, and one of the best shows period, on all of television.
Look, here’s what I’m trying to say: Television is filled with people with long faces and dramatic speeches and hard-shadow lighting. I honestly don’t think I know how any actor looks like on Netflix’s Daredevil. Don’t get me wrong; I love Daredevil, and The Americans, and Game of Thrones… but there’s something of note with shows like Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend that seem to be made with absolute joy, and can still tackle those dark subjects in its patented tone.
Jane the Virgin is unabashed about its telenovela tropes. And paired with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I don’t think there’s a show that acutely taps into the eccentricity of the human condition.
Their most generous quality is that you can’t quite put your finger on it, they defy being labeled — and that’s just the way both these shows like it. Perhaps they’re breaking way for a new genre, the vibrant, weird dramedy? Who knows.
Simply said, there’s no block on television as twisted and as bright as The CW on Mondays.