Time now for a word from a young woman who has everything.
Goddammit all! Way to go, Rachel Bloom!
by Joe Berkowitz
There is nothing else on television quite like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the delightfully unstable show whose heroine regularly breaks into song. There almost wasn’t anything like it on television at all, though.
After Rachel Bloom and co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna sold their musical comedy pilot to Showtime, the network ultimately passed on it. But Showtime’s loss proved The CW’s gain—and the world’s, by extension. Since debuting this fall, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has enchanted critics, inspired almost aggressive word-of-mouth, and it just earned an order for five more episodes to round out its first season. For Bloom, it’s a triumphant loop-de-loop in an emotional roller coaster that started years ago on YouTube.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend follows the story of Rebecca Bunch, a wildly successful young New York lawyer whose life is all-business. Following a chance encounter with a former summer camp fling, she declines a pending offer of partnership at her law firm and inexplicably uproots to the slightly less cosmopolitan confines of West Covina, California—where the fling now lives. It’s this rash decision that underscores the first word of the show’s title, but it’s the character’s dawning awareness of how irrational her behavior is that grounds it all in reality. As far as inciting incidents go, the woman behind the show may not have undertaken anything comparably risky in her real life, but she did sink a lot of money and time into a funny music video with no guarantee that anyone would ever see it.
“I was always really interested in musical comedy growing up,” Bloom says. I wanted to be a musical theater star. I wanted to be on Broadway. And then when I fell in love with sketch comedy writing I slowly realized that my favorite comedies to watch had also always been musical. So I decided to start making what I thought of as musical sketches.”
Bloom’s first video is perhaps her most notorious, setting the tone for the onslaught to come. The bawdy, joke-packed “Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury” established her as a fearless dynamo, crackling with earnest theater-kid ambition and energy while also suffused with satirical wit. The video went online in August of 2010 and quickly went viral. Not the kind of viral that’s completely inescapable, but the kind where agents and managers’s money-sensors tingle. Within three months she had her first TV writing job….