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The musical number as feminist intervention in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

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In just four seasons, Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna’s musical dramedy Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015–2019) has established itself as an important space for contemporary explorations of gender and genre on US television. In this article, we examine how the musical numbers operate as a feminist intervention into a postfeminist diegesis. The musical numbers in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend often parody different popular music genres by simultaneously drawing attention to and subverting their conventions. In doing so, the series critiques the gender norms of traditionally patriarchal and heteronormative Hollywood musicals and misogynistic music videos. The Hollywood film musical genre is typically framed by a tension between the narrative and the numbers. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend exploits this tension to offer a feminist critique of how patriarchal neo-liberal culture encourages women to invest in romantic love and postfeminist forms of appearance-based empowerment. This article argues that the musical numbers in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are a feminist space where the series critiques the postfeminist reality of its diegesis.

Keywords: feminism; gender; music video; parody; television; the musical genre

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Newcastle 2: Queensland University of Technology

Publication date: March 1, 2019

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  • The Australasian Journal of Popular Culture is a double-blind peer-reviewed journal devoted to the scholarly understanding of everyday cultures. It is concerned with the study of the social and cultural meanings that are produced and circulated through everyday media and practices as products of consumption. It explores popular narratives and iconographies as intellectual objects of inquiry, and as integral components of the dynamic forces that shape societies and identities. The journal publishes articles that focus on Australasian examples, as well as broader critical and comparative topics viewed through a global lens.
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