English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Author: Carson Hulsey

A Crazy-Emotional Character Rollercoaster

As the semester winds down, so does my analysis of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. It has been very interesting seeing the strategies that the creators and writers of the show use to convey themes and develop the characters’ personalities. Character development is a significant part of the show Crazy-Ex Girlfriend and is something that I have kept a close eye-on while watching the first season. In this last post I’d like to analyze the character development of various characters in the show throughout the first season. Rebecca Bunch and Greg Serrano are some of the most amusing characters in the show and their character development is notable.

Rebecca Bunch starts the season making irrational decisions. She quits her job at a high-profile law firm in New York City to be with her former summer camp boyfriend, Josh Chan, in West Covina, California. Bunch tries to rationalize this as normal behavior and denies the reason for her moving to California being because of Chan for most of the season. However, later in the season she begins to admit her love for him and he also admits that he has feelings for her. This shows that she becomes less in-denial throughout the season and becomes more in-tune with her feelings.

Greg Serrano starts the season being extremely sarcastic and keeps his feelings inside. He is reserved and does not like to seem like he feels emotions. He is insecure because he got into Emory University and is quite intelligent, but his friends outshine him socially. Throughout the season he struggles with his insecurities and has problems with keeping his feelings inside. Towards the end of the season he admits he has feeling for Rebecca, which shows development because at the beginning of the season he would not have admitted something that significant. Despite this development he goes to Emory University at the end of the season and does not pursue a relationship with Rebecca.

People Other Than Josh Chan Can Love Me?!

In “Josh Has No Idea Where I Am!”, Rebecca Bunch takes a flight to New York City to go back to her old life because she doesn’t believe she can find love, romantic or with friends, in West Covina. She has a conversation with her “Dream Ghost”, her therapist Dr. Akopian, after taking many sleeping pills. The show is arguing that mental health is a real issue and that adults in professional fields struggle with their mental health.

The show supports this argument by showing the adverse effects of abusing prescription drugs and the realizations that Bunch makes while using these drugs. Bunch ends up having vivid dreams involving her “Dream Ghost”, which shows how the sleeping pills make her hallucinate. She realizes in these dreams that other than her love for music and for her mother she doesn’t have any romantic love in her life. Dr. Akopian proves her wrong by showing her that there are people in her life that love her in different ways. Her therapist ‘takes her’ back to West Covina, where many of her friends are worried about her. Greg is particularly worried and had been searching for her at hospitals and morgues. This shows Bunch that her friends care about her and love her. It also makes her realize that she has been focusing on Josh Chan when she can find love in other places. Her anxiety is displayed through these instances because it demonstrates her worry about how others think about her and her assuming that she is not loved by people in her life.

The theme relates to the show as a whole because much of the show revolves around mental illness and how it affects Rebecca Bunch’s life and those around her. It also relates to conversations about mental health because mental health is something that isn’t heavily discussed in mainstream media. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a show that does discuss mental health and its effects and does so effectively through this episode.

Rebecca Bunch and her therapist, Dr. Akopian.

It’s a text-mergency!!

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend uses several strategies in the cinematography and direction of the show in order to convey the emotions of the characters in the show. In season 1 episode 11 Rebecca Bunch accidentally sends a text to Josh Chan expressing her love for him, and has to figure out a way to delete the text before he sees it. Bunch goes through a rollercoaster of emotions during this episode due to the gravity of the situation and her severe anxiety. She has to find ways to deal with the problems happening in the episode along with this recurring anxiety.

Most of the show is shot with medium shots. You can see the character from the waist up and the background. It is very effective within the show because it shows the characters’ facial expressions and emotions up close, but also what’s going on in the background. There are some close-up shots which truly convey the characters’ emotions and the anxiety experienced by Bunch specifically. There are some long takes, such as the scene where Bunch is in a meeting at work and accidentally sends the text to Chan, but most are quick cuts. It matters because emotions are a significant theme in the show and using certain shots when filming is an effective way to convey them.

The lighting in the show is usually bright. When Bunch is at work, the colors are mute and serious. The colors became dark when Bunch got back to her apartment and Chan figured out that Bunch had fabricated her story as to why her apartment had gotten broken into. However, in general, the color scheme of the show is bright and cheery due to the light-hearted nature of the show. The episode stands out visually from many other episodes because it has more dark colors. The color scheme leans more to the dark side in this episode.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Really Represents

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of the most unique shows on television. Males and females are mostly represented equally and there is representation of other sexual orientations and of people with mental illness. The genders represented are male and female. The main characters are equally represented by both genders (Rebecca, Paula, Josh Chan, Greg, Darryl and Heather). However, males are represented more in the show because Josh Chan has many male friends and Rebecca does not have many friends other than Heather, Paula, and Valencia.


Male and female characters make decisions in the show, but more often than not, women, mainly Rebecca Bunch, make significant decisions. Rebecca has to decide who she’s going to make friends with, who she wants to be in a relationship with, and many other important decisions. She constantly has internal conflict about social situations and so these decisions are even more difficult for her to make. Josh Chan is a person who simply reacts. His personality doesn’t have much substance and he lets things happen rather than taking action. This matters because it gives the main male figure in the show less of an impact than the main female figure and lowers the significance of male decisions in the show.


Race and gender interact through the varying amount of racial representation in the show. Josh Chan is Filipino, Valencia is Latina, and Darryl claims to be Native American. Class and gender don’t usually interact because they’re all middle class or upper middle class. There is representation for other sexual orientations through Darryl. In the middle of season 1 Darryl comes out as bisexual by performing the song “Gettin’ Bi”. Shortly afterward he began dating White Josh. Mental illness is also represented through Rebecca Bunch. Rebecca has severe social anxiety and other undiagnosed mental illness that is very prevalent throughout the course of the show.

Overall, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend does a great job representing both genders and multiple races, sexual orientations, and mental illnesses. The show gives many different perspectives and explores these perspectives thoroughly.

The Role of Female Characters in Doctor Who from 1960-Present

Colgan, Jenny. “The Bolshie, Brilliant History of the Women of Doctor Who.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 27 Aug. 2018, www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/aug/27/the-bolshie-brilliant-history-of-the-women-of-doctor-who.

This article from The Guardian details the history of women in the show Doctor Who. It speaks of Sarah Jane Smith, a companion who began her stint with the third doctor and ended up being the companion who was on the show the longest. Her character was a feminist and actually kept her job as an investigative reporter after becoming a companion, which was a big deal because the companions before her had not kept their day job and usually did not exhibit any feminist characteristics. The article also analyzes how there was no sexual tension between the doctor and their companions in early seasons but as the seasons progress it becomes more prevalent. This shows how the companions’ roles have become more sexualized over the years. This article has value because it shows the history of women in Doctor Who and how their roles have changed throughout the show’s run.


Gregg, Peter B. “England Looks to the Future: The Cultural Forum Model and Doctor Who.” The Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 37, no. 4, July 2004, pp. 648–661., doi:10.1111/j.0022-3840.2004.00091.x.

This peer-reviewed journal gives insight into how as Doctor Who progresses the cultural structure of the show reflects the cultural structure of society. Most of the show’s themes throughout the years have reflected current cultural norms and popular ideology. The journal also details how some decisions about the direction of the show in the past were made by the actor playing the Doctor, such as the fourth doctor, Tom Baker. The person who played the doctor made decisions about how not only the doctor would be portrayed, but also how companions would be portrayed and viewed by the doctor. This is significant because the Doctor, up until 2018, was always portrayed as a man, and the input from a man’s perspective can be very different than from a woman’s. This journal has value because it shows how the show’s themes and values change as time goes on, which in turn means that gender roles would change.


Orthia, Lindy A., and Rachel Morgain. “The Gendered Culture of Scientific Competence: A     Study of Scientist Characters in Doctor Who 1963–2013.” Sex Roles, vol. 75, no. 3-4, Feb. 2016, pp. 79–94., doi:10.1007/s11199-016-0597-y.

This peer-reviewed journal delves into the scientific roles that women have played throughout the run of the show Doctor Who. The study found that males and females in the show are not equally represented but they both equally exhibit scientific capability. Women are able to operate the TARDIS and perform important scientific calculations just as well as the men. They make almost as many, if not as many, crucial decisions as the doctor does. Despite this, there are some details of how characters are depicted in the show that indirectly devalue women, such as inadequate male scientists lacking masculinity and having feminine qualities. Lacking masculinity is seen as negative, which therefore means acting like a woman is seen as negative. This journal has value because it shows that although women are represented as scientific equals in the show there are indirect ways that they are not represented equally.


Pelusi, Alessandra J., “Doctor Who and the Creation of a Non-Gendered Hero Archetype” (2014). Theses and Dissertations. Paper 272.

In this thesis/dissertation the author explores how Doctor Who has created one of the only non-gendered characters depicted on television. They do this by analyzing the female and male characters and their roles within the show. The paper also brings up the interesting point that the doctor and their companions are dependent on each other, which elevates the importance of companions and in turn increases the relevance of female characters in the show. Female characters are seen as true game-changers because they are able to change the course of the show simply by voicing their opinions to the doctor. Although there will always be some stereotypes, due to their relevance in popular culture, there are less gender stereotypes displayed in the show due to these points the author explored. This thesis/dissertation has value because it demonstrates how gender does not play a direct part in Doctor Who and women have a significant role in the show.


Peters, Jasper. “Nothing Will Ever Be The Same Again: Exploring Faith, Doubt, and the Disciple     Journey of a Companion to the Doctor.” Implicit Religion, vol. 18, no. 4, 2015, pp. 499–506., doi:10.1558/imre.v18i4.29089.

This peer-reviewed journal demonstrates how the Doctor’s companions, who are predominantly female, sway the Doctor’s actions and how their decisive roles affect the show. The Doctor is the main character of the show and will sometimes make split decisions on their own, but the companions, despite their usual devotedness to the Doctor, will challenge their ideas and significantly impact the plot. The emotions that the Doctor feels toward the companions and vice versa also affect the show and give female companions a symbolic role in the show, despite their role being simply titled as “companion”. There are times presented in the show where a companion and the doctor will actually have romantic feelings for each other, which complicates the situation even more when it comes to decision-making. This journal has value because it talks about how companions can sway the doctor’s decisions and therefore play an important part of the plot.


Ras, Ilse A. “Doctor Who: Companions and Sexism, 1963-1989.” Dr Ilse A. Ras, 2 June 2014, iaras22.wordpress.com/2014/05/31/doctor-who-companions-and-sexism-1963-1989/.

In this blog post the author explores whether or not the show Doctor Who is sexist. They decide that the show is simultaneously sexist and not sexist at the same time. The author cites blatant examples of sexism, such as outfits that female companions have worn and certain things they were made to say. Certain companions have been made to wear revealing costumes and/or bikinis that do not contribute to the plot of the show. There are also times where there is indirect sexism in the show, such as women being seen as a lesser figure in decision-making. She also observes that pre-1989, most of the companions had highly skilled jobs such as a journalist, teacher and heart surgeon. In the most reason seasons many companions have jobs that do not require a college degree. This article has value because it addresses the role of women in Doctor Who and whether or not their role can be seen as sexist.


Let’s Go to the Beach, Beach!! (while simultaneously denying our problems and elevating our anxiety)

Rebecca and Valencia feud on the party bus on the way to the beach.


In Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Rebecca Bunch is prone to getting herself into, wait for it, crazy situations. In season 1 episode 9, “I’m Going to the Beach with Josh and His Friends!”, Bunch gets herself into one of those situations when Valencia invites her to go to the beach with the “crew” that consists of Josh, Greg, White Josh, Hector and Valencia. The writing in the episode is quite unique, as it usually is in the series. This episode was written by Dan Gregor, known for How I Met Your Mother (2011-2014), and Doug Mand, known for How I Met Your Mother (2011-2014).

The dialogue begins after Rebecca goes and sees a movie by herself. She walks out of the movie theater and sings about how she “totally has friends”. This dialogue shows how lonely Rebecca is because she’s dealing with the fact that she actually has no friends and can only talk to herself about the situation. Throughout the episode there is also a lot of dialogue attempting to directly address the issues that Rebecca are facing. Much of the current conflict is that Rebecca won’t admit that she’s in love with Josh Chan and hiding that truth is affecting her social life and her mental health. Paula calls Rebecca out in the episode and states that Rebecca is in love with Josh Chan and that by going to the beach she is going to be humiliated by Valencia and it’s going to be “another one of her disasters”. This dialogue is significant because it’s saying what we’re all thinking and the direct format presents reality right in front of Rebecca, which, probably, along with the fact that Paula gets mad at Rebecca for being in denial, heightens her anxiety about the situation. There isn’t a voice over which doesn’t really matter because most of the situations in the show are presented by the characters directly.

There isn’t much intentional silence in the episode, but there is a little bit at the beginning. When Rebecca is walking out of the movie theater alone there is muffled chatter between the friend groups outside of the theater. This muffled speaking accentuates how alone Rebecca feels. There are several external references about Seinfeld, Magnum P.I., and The Butterfly Effect. Most of these references are for comedic purposes within the small jokes and jabs and don’t have a huge bearing on the plot. Despite this, the use of these references in creative and makes references to some niche humor.

The writing in this episode was very direct, as it is a lot of the time during the show. However, the episode dives deeper into Rebecca’s insecurities and anxieties and shows how the move to West Covina has affected her. Josh Chan’s cluelessness about Rebecca’s feelings for him and the reasons why she moved to West Covina is a recurring detail that stands out to me in the writing, especially instances where the characters indirectly reference it and it goes over Josh’s head.

This is Real, This is Me, I’m So Excited to Learn About Feminism and TVVVV!!

Hey everyone!! My name is Carson Hulsey, my major is Literature, Media and Communication, and I plan on graduating in 2022.

I had the opportunity to take a photo with a real Oscar at Disney World in February.

This is my first English class at Georgia Tech and I’m very excited to delve into the material. I enjoy written communication because I have always been able to get my message across most effectively through the written mode. I started writing short stories when I was in Kindergarten and have enjoyed it ever since. I struggle with oral communication because I have always been least confident delivering my message using the oral mode. I have given many presentations throughout my academic career and I always get nervous and shaky when doing so. I definitely hope to improve my oral communication skills this semester by having more confidence in myself and practicing presentations.

I am unquestionably a TV addict. I don’t watch TV every single day necessarily, but I have watched it a bunch these last few years. I bought a ChromeCast about a year ago, which allows me to cast Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc. onto my TV. Since I bought a ChromeCast I have watched countless shows and YouTube videos. One of my favorite lazy past times is to dive into a new show. I watch a mix of comedic shows, like The Office and Workaholics, more serious shows, like Parts Unknown and The Crown, and shows in the middle, like Shameless.

I have chosen to review Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a CW series that revolves around a lawyer, Rebecca Bunch, who went to Harvard and Yale and works at an elite New York law firm. After a stressful day at work, Bunch runs into her first love, Josh Chan. He tells her that he’s moving to West Covina, California because New York wasn’t for him. Later, Bunch decides on a whim that she’s going to move to West Covina herself so she can find happiness as well. I chose to review this show because I have friends who’ve watched it and enjoyed it and because I’ve read positive reviews online. I have also heard that it’s a polarizing show that gives viewpoints that usually aren’t displayed on TV so I’m excited to see how those viewpoints are portrayed.

I believe that this semester is going to bring up many points that I have never explored and give me a new perspective on how television and feminism intertwine. I’m so excited to learn and grow with all of you this semester!

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Co-Creator and Star: Rachel Bloom

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