Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) wasn’t necessarily looking to do TV comedy when she stumbled on Rachel Bloom. “I was procrastinating at work,” McKenna says, “and I saw one of Rachel’s videos and I was so smitten with it that I then just watched as many of her videos as I could find.”
Bloom had been quietly prolific, writing for Robot Chicken and producing a collection of shorts and musical comedy sketches. A meeting was organized by CBS. “Here was this really smart, writer girl,” McKenna says, “who I immediately recognized as my kin. So we started talking and it just hit me in the moment that the idea of a crazy ex-girlfriend is something that Rachel had actually done in her video, Pictures of Your Dick. Then we went out to the parking lot and started chatting about it, and to be honest, it started a conversation that three years later is still going.”
Earlier this year, Bloom received a Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice award for her portrayal of Rebecca Bunch–a New York attorney, who, following a chance meeting with her high school ex, ups sticks and moves to West Covina, California, in an attempt to rekindle the romance. Now, Bloom and McKenna are moving into their second season. “We get up every day and come to work and we just hug each other,” Bloom says. “We’re so grateful that we’re going to make more.”
The pilot was made for Showtime, but Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was actually bought by The CW–was it tough to change it up?
McKenna: Obviously there’s less sex. When we sold it to Showtime, I remember Rachel and I were in the car one day and she was like, “what do we do about showing my boobs?” It was kind of my mission to make sure we never showed Rachel’s boobs. I kind of felt like, they’re so fabulous, I’m not sure the world deserves to see them. The great line that Rachel said is, “I would love to show the inside of my butthole, before we show my boobs.”
Bloom: The biggest difference honestly is not the sexual content, but that on Showtime, they were encouraging us to make it a little bit darker and more edgy. The show does have a sense of darkness in it, but it was never quite as dark as it promised to be. The character of Rebecca is so bubbly, that the darkness of the humor comes in more of the contrast between her super sunny disposition. And so, in a funny way it was a better fit for The CW.
How does your writing process work together?
Bloom: For the first three months Aline and I knew each other, we just sat in a room talking about these people. I feel like a lot of writing partners, they’ll come up with ideas together and then someone will take a page, another person will take a page, but the way Aline and I wrote the pilot was out loud improvising together. Nine times out of ten, Aline’s on the computer, and then it’s me doing cartwheels around the room because I need to be moving at all times.
McKenna: We had so much fun writing and doing the pilot, we thought, ‘we’re going to have this show and we’re going to be together every second,’ and now we always feel like we’re Romeo and Juliet being kept apart because it’s busy. Rachel is involved, always, in the break of every story, and the outlines and then at the script process. It’s always a process of trying to find Rachel time, so that she can be a writer and be a songwriter, but since she’s also being an actress and a singer, we try not to run her into the ground.
Why West Covina for the setting? This obscure suburb?
McKenna: We were trying to find the prototypical southern California suburb, but I actually think that the name was the thing. We did a song actually this year that mentions a lot of towns, Azusa, El Monte, and they all have kind of fabulous names. I’ve got to say, Azusa was tempting.
Bloom: I had a high school boyfriend who lived in a town near West Covina. I feel like I said that, and Aline was like, ‘Oh my god, West Covina is such a funny name.’
Why did the musical theme appeal to you?
Bloom: Because Aline found my stuff through my musical work, and was inspired by that to create something with me, it just seemed natural that whatever we did would be musical, because that’s what’s unique about what I was doing. I remember saying to Aline, ‘We want to create a musical TV show.’ I was coming up with all these ideas that were really show business-y, like, ‘Oh, it’s a young person living in New York, trying to be on Broadway,’ and Aline was said, ‘Why don’t we just do a show and not have an excuse for why it’s a musical?’ It’s a person who sees their life in music.
In the Season 1 finale Rebecca finally told Josh she’d been effectively stalking him–right after they slept together. What sort of fallout from that will we see in Season 2?
Bloom: People are like, ‘Oh no, why didn’t she choose Greg?’ One of the things is that, we never have seen it really as a show about this boy or that boy. To us, it’s about this one unhappy person’s quest for happiness. So really, think of the show less as a romantic pursuit, and more of a pursuit of happiness–to explore what women do and how they behave when they are in love. Rebecca thinks that she and Josh are meant to be, and the night they spent together only reinforces that.
Any other projects in the pipeline for either of you?
McKenna: I mean for a long time my other project was my son’s bar mitzvah.
Bloom: It was a really good bar mitzvah. My other project was, I bought a house with my husband. Also a big project of mine is seeing my husband. I hear he’s a really nice guy. If I was an actress on any TV show, of course I would have movies, I would have all these other passion projects, but this is my passion project, this is all I’ve ever wanted to do.