Abstract

In the four-season musical television series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, mental illness—as in real life—is insidious, lurking in plain sight, hidden only by our willingness to be distracted by the hilarity of the series’ deftly rendered musical numbers, which continually project dark subjects through a camp lens. While Crazy Ex-Girlfriend borrows from earlier musicals dealing with mental illness (Lady in the Dark, Anyone Can Whistle, Man of La Mancha, next to normal) by giving “crazy” a musical voice, it avoids some of the pitfalls of these models, gesturing toward but then denying easy resolutions and idealization. Rather, the series uses its extended scale to consider a fuller spectrum of “crazy,” relishing the musical number’s capacity to play both sides of the crazy-inspirational divide while allowing the trajectories of mental illness to emerge more fully than in a stage musical.

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