The CW musical comedy Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a much-needed deconstruction of a stereotype that holds women’s basic human emotionality against them. While men get credit for holding a boombox outside a window under the rain, the same scene would be considered a display of psychosis, if a woman were to do it.
Rachel Bloom’s show has charmed critics and viewers alike by tackling the topic. In the show, she gives a heartfelt portrayal of a musically-inclined lawyer who impulsively leaves her New York City life behind to unilaterally rekindle a romance with her ex in California.
The show is very much worth your time. Between it and Jane the Virgin, the CW is simply killing it by giving us amazing women to root for while laughing our asses off each week.
Now for the crazies. Because the truth is that the TV landscape is littered with ex-girlfriends who send shivers down our spines. They might entertain us but we are not hoping for a Pleasantville situation anytime soon.
Marnie from Girls
The boyfriend(s): Charlie (Season 1-Season 2), Ray (S3-S4), Desi (S4)
While none of the four leads of Lena Dunham’s Girls is an aspirational model, Marnie takes the crown due to the fact that she is a character who solely defines herself by the same relationships she so spectacularly mishandles. Every. Single. Time.
We first met Marnie in an ambivalent long-term relationship with Charlie, an overly-loving beta male of a musician. Their breakup was long and tedious and once free of him, Marnie only wanted one thing: Charlie back. This, despite Charlie being in a new relationship. Charlie went on to become a startup millionaire and this fueled Marnie’s need for him back — bringing her to the point of openly serenading him at one of his work parties.
The new season of Girls premieres February 21, 2016 and will find Marnie marrying troubadour Desi, another musician who was also in a relationship when Marnie cast her eyes on him. It’s going to be glorious.
Alex Vause from Orange Is the New Black
The girlfriend: Piper Chapman (Who can even keep track at this point?)
If there’s a litmus test for an ex’s craziness, one who lands you in jail certainly passes. Alex Vause is enthralling, manipulative, and has just enough good in her to keep Piper coming back for more each time. Likewise, she brings out the worst in Piper both inside and outside the penitentiary. Someone who can make “international drug smuggling” look like a fun adventure is someone worth avoiding.
In the end, the biggest red flag about Alex Vause might be that she genuinely loved Piper despite all the chaos she unleashed into her life. Still, crazy will get you 20, girl.
Claire Underwood from House of Cards
The boyfriend: Adam Galloway (S1-S2)
We are looking forward to Season 4 of House of Cards, which is set to pit Frank Underwood against the only person who could take him down — Claire Underwood. We’ve seen firsthand what happens to Claire’s exes and it’s nothing short of spiritual annihilation.
Take photographer Adam Galloway. Claire never quite allowed him to move on, enjoying the bohemian alternative her former lover represented when compared to her ruthless husband. Season 1 spent a languid episode in New York, establishing the two’s ineffable connection. When word of their affair leaked to the media in Season 2, Claire had no qualms about burying Galloway once he escapes her control. It took only a few swings for Galloway to tap out, but not without the parting wisdom that Claire was the first and only person whom he had ever hated. Yikes.
Lana Kane from Archer
The boyfriend: Archer
Don’t mistake this entry for rancor; Lana Kane is an icon. Between her twin TEC-9s, foul mouth, and manly hands, she is an integral part of what makes Archer so great. Still, crazy ex-girlfriend credit where crazy ex-girlfriend credit is due: Lana also stole Archer’s sperm, impregnated herself without telling him for months, and eventually revealed the child, Abbiejean Kane-Archer, to be his.
Since then, Lana has made him jump through a series of hoops to demonstrate that he is mature enough to spend time with his daughter — including staging a fake baby-napping.
If Archer is the boyfriend from hell, Lana has shown that she can definitely keep up.
Jan Levinson from The Office
The boyfriend: Michael Scott (S1-S5, mostly)
Introduced as a stern superior in the face of Michael Scott’s antics on The Office, Jan’s role steadily expanded as she eventually gave in to Michael’s very specific range of charm. Melora Hardin, in turn, was able to unleash her comedic chops.
Michael and Jan had a one-night stand, awkwardly began dating, and eventually moved in together. During this time, Jan steadily grew more unstable, got breast implants, exposed them to a superior, got fired, and sued Dunder Mifflin.
Jan became a stay-at-home candlemaker and got married to a man who did not have enough money support her, leading to the most awkward dinner party in The Office’s history. When she wanted a child, she refused to risk the plight of carrying Michael’s seed and thusly used a donor. Even once their relationship ended, Jan still explicitly forbade Michael from pursuing Holly, the woman whom he would eventually end up marrying. The worst monsters are the ones created to your image, Michael Scott.
Ellaria Sand from Game of Thrones
The (whatever) paramour: Oberyn Martell (S4)
The Dornish live to fuck and fight, and nowhere is that more evident than in Ellaria Sand, paramour of Oberyn Martell. Ellaria is a lowborn woman of passion and heat who is not above a good bisexual orgy at a brothel with the father of her multiple unseen daughters.
She is also technically an ex with an asterisk. Had Oberyn’s head retained its structural integrity, their free love would have lasted decades. Oberyn’s death, however, caused something to snap in Ellaria, who now wants to fight. From openly insulting the Prince of Dorne to wanting to maim a teenage girl and send her back to her mother in pieces, Ellaria will stop at nothing to start a war with the Lannisters, whom she blames for her loss. She even went as far as to poison herself as an intermediary to poisoning someone else. Ellaria is the sort of ex that does not care about getting into a fight with your extended family at Thanksgiving — on your behalf.