First episodes are a tricky thing to get right. There’s a lot of information to unpack, so many shows’ first episodes are a bit awkward. After watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s first episode, though, I wouldn’t include this show within that category. “Josh Just Happens to Live Here!” is an engaging episode, and its cinematography and direction especially stands out. There’s major visual appeal, and not only does this stand out – this also compliments the show’s other aspects. One example of this: the color tone. The tone of the show varies from scene to scene, based on what’s happening, and this contrast of warm- and cool-looking scenes adds to the viewing experience. By seeing moments like Rachel, the show’s protagonist, first arriving in West Covina tinted with a warm tone – and Rachel’s mom berating her for moving, via-phone call, with a cool tone – we, the viewers, get a better understanding of how different scenes affect Rachel.
Another example of the show’s quality cinematography and direction comes from the composition of the scenes themselves. The scenes are directed in such a way that they last for as long as the director intends. Scenes that would typically feel too long, like when Rachel waits for Josh to text back, don’t drag at all, and this is thanks to effects like the superimposing of her typing her text. In contrast, any of Rachel’s awkward interactions, especially with Nathaniel at the party, appear painfully long. Besides this, the scenes also don’t feel bloated. For all that’s being introduced, most of the scenes only possess as much detail as is necessary. The best example of this is Rachel’s mom: throughout the episode, the viewer never catches a glimpse of her. All we get of her is her voice – and yet, from the dialogue she has, that’s all we need to know that she’s cold, ruthless, and ambitious. Of course, this only applies to most of the scenes. There’s one significant exception to this observation, and that’s the musical scenes.
These scenes are very elaborate, complete with choreography, costumes, and back-up dancers. There’s a lot of detail within these scenes, and this is best exemplified in how the locations and actual happenings of the scene affect the songs. A shot of the music program being cut is shown just as Rachel sings a reference to it – and later in “West Covina,” the same band plays before being forcibly stopped. The explanation-parts of “West Covina,” where Rachel justifies moving to West Covina, are set to shots of her defending herself in conversation. The rapper in “The Sexy Getting Ready Song” stops rapping after seeing the state of Rachel’s bathroom and leaves to apologize to the women “he’s wronged” (which the show kindly shows us at the end.)
Overall, the cinematography and direction in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s first episode was excellent and has left me eager for what comes next.