“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” wraps up its first season on Monday night, but only around a million people will notice — at least, that’s what you might gather from the Nielsen ratings. Despite the average total audience numbers, however, the CW has already picked up the musical comedy for a second season.
Surprised? As it turns out, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” starring co-creator Rachel Bloom as a depressed lawyer who impulsively moves across the country to be closer to her former boyfriend from camp, is the perfect low-rated show to survive in the truly insane time of “peak TV.” Even with 1,400 scripted series on air at the moment, this type of show can still sustain in an era of fierce competition. Here’s how it’s done:
1) Exist on a very patient network.
If any channel knows the value of word of mouth over numbers, it’s the CW. Catering to a younger crowd, the network realizes its target audience is likely to hear about the show months later from a friend or a Facebook link, and then binge-watch the whole thing online or on-demand. As a result, CW executives tend to give promising freshmen shows time to prove themselves.
2) Have potential to go viral.
In the “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” universe, Rebecca Bunch (Bloom) regularly sees the world through songs as she starts a new job in West Covina, Calif., and winds up in a love triangle with her ex-boyfriend Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III) and his snarky friend Greg (Santino Fontana). Each episode has at least two hilarious musical numbers; and thanks to the fact that they tackle relatable indignities of modern dating and social anxiety, the tunes are primed to go viral.
Some of the songs in the first season included: “The Sexy Getting Ready Song,” about the horrifying beauty regiments women go through while getting ready for a date; “Settle For Me,” begging someone to give up their first choice love interest; “Group Hang,” the enemy of romance everywhere; and “I Gave You a UTI,” which is, well, self-explanatory.
3) Be awards-bait.
With sharp writing and clever production, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” received lots of great reviews — and it got a bigger boost when Golden Globe voters decided to love the show, too. At the awards in January, Bloom won over Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”) and Jamie Lee Curtis (“Scream Queens”) for best actress in a TV musical or comedy. Bloom’s truly shocked, emotional speech was one of the highlights of the night and put the show on viewers’ radar.
That kind of awards prestige is quite valuable to the CW, which rarely gets recognized on the mainstream trophy circuit. Just ask Gina Rodriguez of CW’s “Jane the Virgin.” Rodriguez won the same best actress prize in 2015 and just saw her low-rated show renewed for a third season. If there’s any series that could emulate the same path to multiple seasons without a ton of viewers, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” would be a safe bet.