There’s been a lot of buzz lately surrounding Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a CW comedy about a successful Manhattan lawyer who drops everything to follow her high school boyfriend to West Covina, California. For starters, our very own Lea Salonga will be appearing in the show’s season finale. Also, our culture is at last being represented on American television via the protagonist’s ex-boyfriend, Josh Chan.
Not that this is the first time we’re encountering Filipinos on American TV, seeing as that you can occasionally see snippets of supportive Pinoy families, adobo and/or sinigang whenever there is a Filipino contender on Top Chef, So You Think You Can Dance, or American Idol. But this is actually the first time our culture is being depicted fictionally, and authentically at that — a conscious effort on the part of the show’s creators. Makes me realize we’ve come a long way from those cheap racial slurs occasionally thrown at us by the writers of Ugly Betty and Friends (always an innuendo about a Filipino child laborer, domestic helper, sex worker).
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is good-natured at best, mixing comedy, light drama and musical, skewing more towards camp than thespian. Each episode swings between straight narrative and magical realism. The show’s protagonist Rebecca is on the side of cuckoo (hence the title) so some exaggeration was deemed necessary. Lead star and creator Rachel Bloom’s recent showing at the Golden Globes reveals that like Empire’s Taraji P. Henson to her character Cookie, she’s not far from her fictional counterpart.