Of Rachel Bloom’s many hilarious and successful YouTube videos, one in particular spoke to Aline Brosh McKenna, the co-creator and executive producer of Bloom’s new TV show, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
“There was one called Pictures of Your Dick,” McKenna said during a panel discussion at PaleyFest’s Fall TV Previews in Los Angeles on Monday night. While [Rachel and I] were talking, that just hit me that that’s a ‘crazy ex-girlfriend’ video and could be the perfect thing. What I love about what Rachel does is that there’s this sort of intensity to all her characters, but there’s this kind of warmth and sadness and sense of the absurd throughout.”
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a musical rom-com that premieres on the CW on October 12, is one of the fall’s most anticipated new shows. Bloom plays Rebecca Bunch, a Manhattan lawyer who drops her life and career to follow her high-school boyfriend to the Los Angeles suburb of West Covina, California. The show came to life after McKenna, who was procrastinating writing a script, came upon Bloom’s YouTube selections and had to meet her. The two women appeared at PaleyFest with actors Donna Lynne Champlin and Santino Fontana.
Here are 7 things Vulture learned about the show, including one about assblood:
There’s a little crazy ex-girlfriend in all of us. Just ask Bloom or Champlin. Bloom says her character “is very much an emotional autobiography.” She admits to being boy-crazy since she was 8 years old, driving an hour to run into her high-school crush, and having a secret relationship in college. “I would debase myself to chase that rush of infatuation, to chase that high.” Bloom says she went as far as lying to herself in her journals. “Why am I going to the bookstore at 8 a.m.? Because that’s the time to read books! That’s what I wrote! It was because this dude starting working at eight. We have these delusions where we can’t even face our own craziness ourselves.”
Champlin was so obsessed with one man while she was working in Little Rock, Arkansas, that she would make him mixtapes and mail them to her friend in New York City so she could in turn mail them to him with a New York postmark. “I wanted to be anonymous,” she explained, “but there were clues in the tapes that it was me. It kind of worked. A year later, he asked me out on a date. But I was so crazy and he smelled the crazy and he cancelled at the last minute. Then my brain went poof and I went to a lot of therapy.”
Then Bloom one-upped her: “When I was in high school, I would look in my bathroom mirror when I was alone and [sing,] ‘Loving you is who I am’ and I would watch myself cry. Look at my beautiful tears!”
The pilot includes two big Broadway-style musical productions, and all of the music is original. Each episode will contain two or three original numbers and will cover the musical spectrum — from hip-hop to pop to rap to R&B. There will even be a French tune in the first season. Bloom co-writes all the music with Emmy- and Grammy-winning songwriter Adam Schlesinger and music producer Jack Dolgen, who worked with her on all her videos.
What’s the big deal with a little ass blood? During one of the musical numbers in the pilot, there’s a moment — we’ll preserve the surprise — that involves ass blood. Originally made for Showtime, the scene played out a little differently. The visuals of the ass blood were followed by a musical refrain “Ass Blood!” Now airing on broadcast television, the producers had to make a tough choice: “You can show the ass blood but you can’t label it as such,” Bloom explained. “Or you can say it but not see the said ass blood.” Ass blood decisions are never easy.
True love is not what you think. Rebecca may have chased her high-school crush across the country, but her big love affair will be with Paula (Champlin), who shares in her cray-cray and will become like a surrogate mother to her. “Rebecca needs a nurturing maternal figure who will give her unending love because she’s someone who hasn’t had a lot of unconditional love in her life. I really love doing a story about female friendship. That’s been very important to us. We thought a lot about what it is to be a woman.
Why on earth is the show set in West Covina? “We wanted to do a fish-out-of-water story that felt different,” Bloom said. “Growing up in Southern California, I know how interesting and diverse it is. We like to say, ‘It’s people of all cultures going to the same Applebee’s.’ But nothing is built pre-1975 so there’s this newness, this freshness, and unending optimism. Growing up here, no one knew how to articulate when they’re depressed. You’re almost not allowed to be depressed here. It’s so sunny. But also when I was in high school, I was in love with a boy who lived in Glendora, which is the town over. I would find all kinds of excuses to go to Glendora. I just want to go to Glendora to see the Albertson’s!”
Does it really take two hours to drive to the beach from West Covina? There’s a running joke in the pilot that claims this is so, and a question from an audience member who lives in West Covina almost turned the session into an episode of The Californians. (West Covina is 35 miles from Santa Monica beach.)
“Sure!” Bloom agreed. “With no traffic, maybe it’s an hour. But when do you want to go to the beach? On the weekend! And I’m sorry, weekend traffic on the 10 from West Covina to the beach, there’s no way that’s not two hours.”
Countered the woman, “I go on the 57.”
(That’s a different beach, sweetie.)
Who is that guy Hansen Frozen anyway? Even though Bloom and McKenna weren’t simply casting actors who can sing, the casting director highly recommended that they watch the audition tape of an actor who sang and played the piano while standing up. ‘You have to see this guy — Hansen Frozen,’ McKenna recalled hearing. When the tape arrived, it was marked with the name ‘Santino Fontana,’ leading McKenna to think she had the wrong one. It turns out Fontana, who plays a potential love interest for Rebecca, was the right actor — the casting director had just been trying to inform McKenna that Fontana had played Hans in Frozen.