'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' Showrunner Aline Brosh McKenna Talks Censoring for The CW
"I think the thing where someone gets garroted with their own belt is a little scarier than seeing a woman’s nipples."
"There’s so much stuff on the air now, people want stuff that breaks out and is buzzy, so anytime we come up with something that’s controversial, [The CW] is excited about it," Aline Brosh McKenna, showrunner of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, told The Hollywood Reporter during the Comedy Showrunner Emmy Roundtable. "They really, fully embrace it."
McKenna has earned her stripes in screenwriting, writing hit female comedies such as The Devil Wears Prada and 27 Dresses. She quit television before her return with Ex-Girlfriend. "I did TV right around in that post-Friends time when everyone was trying to copy Friends," McKenna told fellow Roundtable participant and Friends creator Marta Kauffman (who now runs Netflix's Grace and Frankie), "and one of the reasons why I left is because it was so narrow what people wanted, which was Friends or Seinfeld. Now this is 15 years later and the climate couldn’t be more different."
When it comes to censoring her work for television, McKenna says, "It really has to do with that particular standards and practices department. You can take an ice pick and put it through someone’s head…because people are killed on network shows in the most disgusting, gruesome, serial killer-y way, but you can’t show — we had a thing where we have to cover Rachel [Bloom]’s nipples in certain things. I think the thing where someone gets garroted with their own belt is a little scarier than seeing a woman’s nipples."
The showrunners shared their experiences with stunt casting, when a TV show hires well-known movie stars or personalities to play certain roles or versions of themselves. "We had Dr. Phil, and because we have mental health stuff on our show, he was actually the perfect person. And just FYI, he’s an amazing improviser. He was incredible. He’s a really good actor, but he’s a particularly a good improviser," McKenna said. "He basically was like, 'Well, if you want me to say this crap, I’ll say it, but this is not crap I’d ever say in real life.' '”
More roundtables featuring comedy and drama actors and actresses, drama showrunners, and reality hosts and producers will roll out throughout June in print and online. Tune in to new episodes of "Close Up With the Hollywood Reporter" starting June 26 on SundanceTV, with the premiere of the Comedy Showrunners Roundtable on Sunday, July 31. And look for clips at THR.com/roundtables with full episodes on THR.com after broadcast.