‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ and the Portrayal of Mental Illness

In light of the vibrant, musical TV show ‘Crazy Ex Girlfriend’ coming to an end, I thought about its positive impact associated with the portrayal of mental illness. The story of the show follows Rebecca Bunch, of whom we as an audience are supposed to identify ourselves with. She’s funny, messy, boisterous, sharp, and one of the most interesting people you would ever find. However, she is quite flawed. In many episodes, she becomes obsessed with the love interest of whom she broke up with in her teenage years, and later moved to a city in California to pursue. 

As the show flies through each season, we watch Rebecca face more issues. She’s not just overly reliant on others, but also anxious, severely emotional, and has a history ridden with abandonment, leaving her with trauma and insecurity. But what I really like about the way the show is written, is that it’s not seen as this scary, irreversible, end-all-be-all problem. Instead, her issues are portrayed as musical numbers. She regularly sees a therapist, and reflects the ups and downs of dealing with a mental disorder, which we eventually discover to be BPD (Borderline personality disorder)

It shows that those living with mental disorders aren’t too different than those that aren’t; they’re in plain sight. Many TV shows will over-simplify the effects of disorders, making the character suffering from it appear malicious, crazy, or simply just project them in a poor light. This is also part of the irony of the show’s name. We find that Rebecca isn’t really such a “crazy” ex girlfriend after all. She’s just Rebecca; she’s genuine, honest about her feelings, high-spirited, and loyal to those she loves. 

Mental Illness is commonly misrepresented in hollywood. Suicide is glamorized, illnesses are seen as an inescapable black hole, therapists are for ‘crazy people,’ the characters are overly dramatized and usually made out to be the villain. This is unfair to people who actually suffer from mental illness, and see it from a completely different perspective.

I understand the counterargument; characters dealing with mental illness in healthy ways doesn’t make for good television. Well, to that I say: watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the perfect example to oppose that stance. 

It’s 2019. People living with mental illness do not deserve to be stigmatized in TV and film. It just makes it less likely that people will reach out and get help. So, here’s to supporting quality television that positively impacts mental illness; let’s hope the future of hollywood holds more of it. 

4 thoughts on “‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ and the Portrayal of Mental Illness

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  1. Thank you! I appreciate your thoughtful response.

    Such an awesome way of replying someone. Thanks. Again

    Also, I just posted:

    POEM: The CAULDRON

    Would love to know your views. Love to see your contributions on it. I’m always excited for your comment. 🙂

    You are welcome

    #PATRICKSTORIES
    Peace ✌and Love ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow!
    Thanks for sharing this as I am on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend spree. I just delivered a speech to the college students on mental health using the songs of CXG.
    I am also a mental health advocate and a CXG stan. I am so thankful this show was ever made. I am also glad to find you here.
    I just posted the first part of my speech titled The situation is a lot more nuanced than that. Here it is: https://kloydecaday.wordpress.com/2019/08/24/the-situation-is-a-lot-more-nuanced-than-that/
    I hope you like this speech of mine and I hope that we follow each other because I will post the rest of my speech. It’s my honor to be surrounded with likeminded people/CXG junkies like you! Been looking for resources and podcasts, so thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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