6:00pm PT by Michael O'Connell
'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend': Rachel Bloom Talks Finale, 4-Season Plan and Musical Wish List
[Warning: This article contains spoilers from the season one finale of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, "Paula Needs to Get Over Josh!"]
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is not straying too far into the realm of sanity. The critically favored CW comedy wrapped its freshman season on Monday with a cliffhanger that doubled as an emphatic reminder of the show's title.
Star and co-creator Rachel Bloom caught up with The Hollywood Reporter and explained that while it was always the intention for Rebecca and Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III) to consummate their relationship at season's end, her disclosure that she followed him to West Covina was a more recent choice. And the ramifications of the admission and the act will play heavily into the sophomore season — the first of several renewals Bloom hopes the niche musical has in its future, as she also insists they are nowhere near the end of the planned narrative.
The recent Golden Globe and Critics Choice winner also talked about the struggles of spending less time in the writers room, the first year in musical numbers and why she won't be accepting any feature roles anytime soon.
How did you approach this finale not knowing about the renewal?
We had to operate assuming that we were going to get a second season. There was no way to wrap up the show, literally no way. So we went in hoping for the best. [Showrunner/co-creator] Aline [Brosh McKenna] and I know how the series ends, and we're so far from what that is. Had we not gotten a second season, I think we would have tried to get it made somewhere. We're only beginning to tell the story.
Do you have a number of seasons in mind?
I think the ideal number is around four. That could change. We're a show about a very specific journey in a person's life. And it's not really a sitcom meant to spit out copies of itself. Very early on, we called it a 50-hour movie. I think we're beyond that now. There's always going to be plot movement, so there's only so far I think you can go with that. It could be five, but I think around four would be ideal for us creatively.
You did 18 episodes this season. Do you think that number worked for the show?
When you think about shows that have 22 episodes, oftentimes the weakest episodes are in that middle section when you're treading water until the end. Eighteen was not our breaking point. We told a great story, but it was hard at times. The winter break saved us, to be honest, finishing that 13 episodes and having the break to work on 14 through 18. It ended up being a great number, but definitely the most we could have done. It's an ambitious show.
Was it always the plan to to end the season with Rebecca coming clean?
We always knew that season one would end with her sleeping with Josh. I believe it was Aline who said she should just admit the whole thing. It's brilliant because it gets us into the arc of what we're wanting to do with season two. In some ways, season one was sort of a prologue for what's about to happen. Their relationship now is forever changed, and he's just had sex with her. We can't help but laugh. We watched that scene in the editing room so many times, and it was a last-minute decision to put that "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" [title card] at the end.
It does further the case for her being crazy.
At the end of the day, the title is the title. We are deconstructing a stereotype, yes, but someone said to Aline when she was working on The Devil Wears Prada: "It's called The Devil Wears Prada not The Kind of Mean Lady Wears Prada." It's fulfilling the promise of the premise, which you'll see in season two. And we're already working on it.
You're already working on season two?
Our writers room starts May 9, but Aline and I are already working on it. We want to go in with a plan. What we've learned [in the first season] is that once we go into production, the writers room effectively loses me. It's really important for me to be a part of the writing as much as I can. The earlier we can start, the more thought-out it will be. We're not meeting every day, but we have an overall arc of the season and a lot of the episodes laid out.
Was it hard for you letting go once you had to devote the bulk of your time to filming?
It's been interesting. I would always get a say, it just meant writing on the weekends. I was in the room to help break up until episode 10 or 11, and I was probably part time starting around episode eight. There is some letting go, but Aline and I always get together on the weekends and do a pass. I never felt like my opinion wasn't being heard. The hard part was just coming in late. Next season, I'm going to be much better about reading the treatments and the outlines as they come in.
What can you say about where next season is going?
Half of this first season was all about denial. Rebecca was lying to herself. She was lying about even liking Josh. Next season we'll really be playing with the idea that all of the cards are on the table. They've had sex. She's openly in love with him. What happens now? There are so many scenes and scenarios we couldn't do this season because Rebecca wouldn't even admit that she was in town for Josh. There's just a lot we haven't explored in the ways that characters change, the ways that Rebecca causes those characters to change.
Is there a character on the show that you find most sympathetic at this point?
Darryl, for sure. Darryl and Rebecca are probably the two most similar characters on the show. They're both dreamers. They're both trying to find their identity. The difference is that Darryl took a massive leap and a step forward when he started dating White Josh — whom he just calls "Josh," obviously. (Laughs.) Darryl is just so pure of heart and well-meaning. That's the character, to me, who's the purest. The show is about finding yourself, and I think Darryl comes out of the season winning that game.
Even with the growth of gay storylines on TV, his did feel like a new take.
It felt fresh to us when were doing it. There haven't been many bisexual stories on TV — especially in a positive light. After it aired, a couple articles pointed out that there's this trope of the "evil bisexual" male. It's like, guys who have sex with other guys for power. Also, the stigma of being a guy who's bisexual that gay men sometimes don't believe you. Exploring it from a first-person, sympathetic point of view felt really unique to us. And the whole time we were talking to a representative from GLAAD, and we have people who are bi that work on the show. Darryl could have been a really surface-y character. He can be a bumbling, dopey boss. It started out that he was this small-town guy who was kind of smarmy. But when we cast Pete [Gardner], we had more for the role because Pete is just a ray of sunshine. I grew up in Southern California. Beneath some of the happiest people, there's a deep sadness that they don't even know how to articulate. For Darryl, there was a massive part of his identity missing. And sexual orientation is a huge part of identity. We just went from there. And right now, his is by far the healthiest relationship on the show.
Was there a musical number this season that felt most satisfying for you?
"Settle for Me" had been an idea since basically the Showtime days. For years, I'd been wanting to do a Fred and Ginger number that takes a realistic look at love. Just seeing it come to fruition, that was a really magical night when we filmed it. It felt special. And it's not a pop song. I basically only listened to show tunes until I was 20 years old, and I was really mocked for it. Now I'm making my own TV show and doing a black-and-white tap-dance number. That's amazing. And, honestly, the whole experience of the pilot was incredible. I'd been making my own videos for $2,000 of my own money. To go from that to 175 dancers and flying up in that giant pretzel was amazing. I still feel like when we do a pop song — "Sex With a Stranger," "Heavy Boobs" — those are the more similar to what I was doing before but on a much larger scale.
Which one was the most difficult?
I will say that episode nine song "Women Gotta Stick Together" was around when we started to get a little f—ed on time. We didn't know what the other song in that episode was. And [executive music producer] Adam Schlesinger whipped this up, with almost no planning. It was written so quickly, and the fact that it came out so well when we were so worried and scrounging for time is amazing.
Is there a genre you still really want to explore?
I want to do a Europop number, but I don't know if we'll get to that. I know Vinnie wants to sing a Michael Buble-type song. There are a lot of requests from the actors. We've had one for K-Pop, which would be really funny. That was Vinnie, too. We have a long list of song ideas that we still haven't used.
I'm sure there's been an increase in offers coming your way. Are you doing anything else this summer?
My priority is the show. There's stuff that's long-term, but I can say right now that this show is everything I've wanted to do artistically. It checks off every box. I've had offers, and I don't want to not take advantage of any quote-unquote heat, but if the show were to in any way suffer because of another priority … This show is so much more important to me than anything else ever could be. I can't do a movie this summer. I'm in the writers room. I'm not going to be doing that actor thing of trying to fit in as many projects as possible, and I'm 100 percent OK with it.