Golden Globe-winner Rachel Bloom talks about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s second season, the thing about period sex, and what to expect from Season 3.
This time last year, many Emmy® watchers positioned Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s Rachel Bloom as a strong contender for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. There definitely were some precursor strengths to make the case. Bloom won both the Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice awards. She gave fantastic, buoyant speeches. She did everything an actress should do to get nominated, including giving a fantastic, challenging performance on a fantastic, challenging show. A musical, no less. One in which she sang, danced, and wrote many of the songs.
But the Television Academy regrettably looked elsewhere to fill the category.
“I was doing so much promotion last year that I began to think I had some control. You get the illusion of control. It’s one of the only things in life where it feels like your teacher is putting the cast list for the high school play up,” Bloom laughs. “You’re waiting for that validation. So I got into reading all the lists and reading all the speculation. I thought I could control the outcome. The fact is, you can’t.”
Still, Rachel Bloom and company found a great deal to be happy about. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend received four Emmy nominations, a record for any series airing on The CW. It won two for editing and choreography. When the show returned for Season 2, it received broad critical acclaim, surpassing the first season’s reaction. With a buzzy, focused second season, star Rachel Bloom is once again in contention, and deservedly so. Plus, any attention on her as star brings overall attention to this great and unique series.
Here, she talks about Season 2, the themes she wanted to explore, and what we can expect from Season 3.
So, I noticed on Wikipedia that someone placed Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in the “Toilet Humor” category. Do you consider this a toilet humor show?
Yes, at this point, I would. We make quite a lot of poop jokes. I think at a base level I and a lot of writers on the show come from sketch comedy. Aline [Brosh McKenna] also loves shit jokes. I think that Jews in general, and this is 100 percent true, have stomach problems. It goes back to the shtetl because we didn’t have milk there. It relates to the fact that, I think, we’re used to peasant food. And I’m not a doctor, so this could be totally wrong. But we have six Jewish people in the writer’s room with stomach problems, and toilet humor’s just hilarious. Something that we just don’t talk about is shitting. It’s something everyone does, but we pretend people don’t do. When you think of guilt and shame, talking about the worst parts of ourselves is kind of looped in there.
We talked to Aline, and she mentioned that you were obsessed with period sex. The song “Period Sex” has three separate incarnations through the season. Do you ever run into any issues with The CW regarding the content of the songs?
Not with The CW at all. It’s more having to navigate through Standards and Practices. We actually have a good relationship there. They want to make a good show as much as we do, and they’re actually huge fans of the show. They just have to comply with the FCC regulations, which they didn’t make. So, it’s not Standards and Practices’ job to make the rules. It’s their job to anticipate what might cause an FCC lawsuit. If the FCC sues you, then you have to pay around a half-million dollars. It’s all up to legal interpretation.
But that’s why, at the end of the day, the full version of “Period Sex” was online only. We wanted to do it, but we just couldn’t because the FCC prohibits graphic content on prime time. But it’s always a conversation, and it’s never the network flat denying us. The network just wants the show to be good.
So what’s your favorite song from Season 2?
It’s so hard because every single song is my baby. The songs are mainly written by me, Adam Schlesinger, and Jack Dolgen. Even those songs that I didn’t write, I still write the scripts for. Every single song that’s in the series, we’ve all given such a huge amount of love, thought, and heart into. So, it’s…
Yes! It’s an impossible question.
I loved Season 1’s “You Stupid Bitch.” It felt so perfect in the message that you were trying to convey.
Thank you! That’s actually up there. It’s also one of the more emotionally cathartic songs to write. So, thank you!
Season 2 Rebecca definitely evolved over Season 1 Rebecca. What are some of the themes you wanted to explore in Season 2?
Most of Season 1 was denial that [Rebecca] wasn’t even here for Josh. Season 2 is, “OK. I am here for Josh, and we’re in love. Love is going to solve all my problems.” So, it’s that idea that love satisfies everything, love conquers all, and her consciously saying that to herself.
You’ve mentioned your Jewish heritage. Rebecca really struggles with that in Season 2. Is that something you’ve based on personal experience or others that you’ve known?
Kind of. In that episode, especially when we do “Remember That We Suffered,” it’s her coming to terms with all of it. Her fundamental discomfort with herself, and of course, our cultural background is a major part of our identity. It’s all part and parcel with that. She’s almost about to have in that episode a big revelation and then Josh proposes. I think reckoning her discomfort with what makes her her, and part of that is her Jewishness, is definitely part of her journey and part of her taking two steps back.
You explore that, other aspects of religion, Daryl’s sexuality, Paula’s abortion. There’s so much diversity and diverse experiences within the show. Is that something you specifically sought out to bring to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend?
Yeah. When Aline and I first started talking about the show, something she pointed about about Southern California that’s very true is that it’s quite diverse. Sometimes, you don’t even notice it or talk about it. She grew up in New Jersey, which is all white people. It’s diverse in a way that’s a symbol of what America is now which is a melting pot. We all say that it’s people of different cultural backgrounds going to the same Applebee’s. That was always a part of what we wanted to do. The show goes beneath stereotypes and explores what truly makes you happy, not what you think makes you happy. What makes you actually happy, so with that comes a diversity of experiences.
Speaking of Southern California, I was there last year, and I was the only one in my family who wanted to go to West Covina!
[Laughs] It has this gorgeous hiking area, but it’s fun. You can spot things from the show there.
Tell me about exploring Paula’s abortion. What were you looking to convey with that choice, particularly after her optimistic “Maybe This Dream” number?
We wanted to convey that, her whole life, Paula has seen herself as a victim of circumstance, right or wrong. She was going to say, “No, I have to have this baby because that’s what I do.” That’s not necessarily saying that being a mother is bad or that you can’t have a career as a working mother. Most of our staff at this point are moms. It’s saying that she already has two kids, she gave a lot of her life to that, and now she wants to pursue a new dream.
Her getting an abortion was her taking her life into her own hands. If she’d had that baby, then she would have resented that child and wrongfully. Your life is your own, and if you choose to bring a child into this world, it’s not that child’s fault. You hear a lot of circumstances where parents blame their kids for a dream deferred. It’s just not a good situation.
It’s heartbreaking to watch the Rebecca and Paula’s friendship drift apart around that.
Yeah. Rebecca’s just so lost and broken. She’s not going to give Paula the comfort that she needs. Rebecca just wouldn’t understand. She thinks you can have it all in a very naive way. Yes, lean in and be career women, but it is a very elitist point of view to say that you can have it all. If you’re middle class, and in a country that doesn’t pay people for maternity or paternity leave, there are choices you have to make. Being an adult requires certain sacrifices and weighing the pros and cons.
The abortion was a decision that she made with her husband, and we wanted to explore the truth of most women who have abortions. It’s women who already have kids. They just don’t want another child. That’s the definition of family planning. It’s a husband and a wife or partners or a family making the decision together.
Absolutely. Looking forward to Season 3, it feels like you’re going to full adopt the “crazy ex-girlfriend” mantle. Is that where you’re headed?
Yeah. Obviously, there are many twists and turns. This is my favorite season already. We pitched the entire show, and we know how the series ends. We know that it’s a 4-season show. This has always been the season that I’ve been most excited to write. As of right now, it’s really living up to my personal excitement and expectations. This is getting to the heart of what that title suggests and, of course, going beneath it.
Amazing. I can’t wait. So, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a 4-season series. What do you want to do after it finishes?
It’s kind of like let the idea take me. I have a few ideas for movies that I’m pitching around. I have a book that’s coming out in two years that I need to get jamming on. But I think letting the idea dictate what it is first. What do I want to say? What do I want to explore? What’s the best venue for that? Is it a play? Is it a movie? Another show? Comic book? It’s all about the ideas.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend currently steams on Netflix and on The CW. Season 3 airs this fall.