'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' Set Visit: Behind the Scenes With Rachel Bloom, Aline Brosh McKenna

Koury Angelo
Bloom (center, with Hill, left, and Salonga) in front of one of the series’ central sets, a boba tea stand. 2 “All showrunners should direct an episode,” says Brosh McKenna. “You see an episode in a really different way. A lot of the things I learned have already come into play [while writing the second season

"Typically I’m in the writers room, recording a song, in editing, listening to a cut of the music, or sometimes I get to take a nap," Bloom says of working on The CW's sleeper hit, which celebrated its season finale with trophy aerobics, a directing newbie and more song and dance.

Hair and makeup shakes from collective excitement. The trailer, tucked in the back of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's obscure North Hollywood lot, is overcrowded and buzzing. It's not only the last day of The CW breakout's freshman season, the musical comedy's first soundtrack also dropped on iTunes a few hours earlier. "Should I write a review?" Rachel Bloom asks showrunner and co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna, pondering a pseudonym. Bloom waffles before turning her attention to her tight curls and questioning the versatility of "wedding hair."

A few minutes later the 29-year-old star and co-creator is on set doing triceps extensions with her Critics' Choice Award for best actress in a comedy series, freshly delivered after a win the previous month. It's perhaps the first time in seven months the multihyphenate has been able to goof around on the clock. "When I'm not in a scene, it's pretty much every EP duty," Bloom later explains. "Typically I'm in the writers room, recording a song, in editing, listening to a cut of the music, or sometimes I get to take a nap."

This last day requires her to anchor two scenes. The first, an encounter between Bloom's Rebecca Bunch and her comparatively sane ex-boyfriend's mother and aunt (recurring Amy Hill and guest Lea Salonga, respectively), has many fawning between takes. Broadway veteran Salonga — "the voice of Jasmine in Aladdin," one crewmember whispers indiscreetly to another — is lending her pipes to the season's final musical number.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, after all, has little in common with most other hourlong shows. As its co-creators affectionately describe it, the series is more a half-hour sitcom bound together with two music videos. "The regular parts of the show we cover very traditionally," says Brosh McKenna, who took her first turn in the director's chair for the finale. "We strive for elegance and naturalism in those parts. The more we establish a clean palette, we can have the musical stuff be more out-there and emotionally intense."  

This story first appeared in a special Emmy issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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