Rachel Bloom, co-creator and star of the irreverent musical comedy Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on the CW, grew up with an affinity for four things: singing, dancing, murder, and death.(#bestfriendstatus?) Her years spent in Southern California’s beachy-clean Manhattan Beach were jointly filled with anxiety and a love for musical theater. An outsider at school, those showy tunes were all she listened to until 18, when the theater nut headed from the shores of CA to the smells of NY to major in musical theater at NYU's Tisch program. But everyone experiments in college. During her time at Tisch, Rachel branched out, started performing with Upright Citizen Brigade Theater, and “fell in love with doing sketch comedy.”
Post NY, back in LA once again, Rachel worked as a staff writer on Cartoon Network’s Robot Chicken, but wasn't entirely satisfied. “My first TV writing job was with a bunch of older, more experienced men, and many of them were brilliant but mean to me. I went home and cried a lot during that period.” And she hadn't shook the musical-comedy bug.
"My first TV writing job was with older, more experienced men. Many of them were brilliant but mean to me."
Six years ago the first video she posted on YouTube, “Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury,” about the sci-fi writer, went viral. For his part, Bradbury reportedly saw said video on his 90th birthday and dug it. A second short, involving a singing "historically accurate Disney princess" who coughs up blood and warbles about a blacksmith with a "daughter-wife, ten-years-old and pregnant," caught the attention of her soon-to-be Crazy Ex-Girlfriend co-creator, Aline Brosh McKenna. It was also the first very public mix of all the things that fascinated Rachel a child. (See above: singing, dancing, murder, and death.) Rachel credits those shorts as the most important step in her career. “Filming what I wrote was immensely important,” she explains. Advice taken from her husband, who many years ago told the actress, "‘Film what you write.’ At the time he was way more experienced than I was," she shares, "so I took his words to heart and it really paid off.”
Even if her road to success was paved with tears, they were not for wont. The CW ordered five additional scripts even before the premiere of My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Last January, Rachel won her first Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Comedy or Musical. And Crazy Ex is just that: a cherry musical on top of a dark, modern day comedy. The blunt name of the show ironically pegs women in a role men have long loved to brand them as: crazy. But the use of music, clever dialogue, and conversations amongst female characters that have nothing to do with men, debunk and deconstruct the male-driven stereotype.
Rachel says that the impetus for the show was always to deal with the contradictory messages women deal with on a daily basis. Telling TIME, “We’re taught to be strong women, we want to be strong women, but both our western ideas of romance and also our own emotions make us crazy. Women are fed all of these contradictory ideas about what love is and what you should and shouldn’t have and you’re supposed to have it all, but you’re also supposed to fall in love.”
Wise words from a woman who says that “female empowerment means seeing oneself as a citizen of Earth first, and how one's gender informs that second.”
Comedy has always appealed to the songstress. “On a primal level,” she shares, “being funny suddenly made me cooler than I could ever be off-stage. I fell in love with comedy writing due to the creative freedom one could find through structure.”
She’s been very open about her own anxieties, “making it,” and capital F fears. “I have a lot more confidence now. I'm not afraid that every bad idea is an omen of me being a talentless hack,” she says. Quoting an acting teacher who once told her, "Laziness is a form of fear," Rachel says that bit of advice has stuck with her. "It really hit home with me."
And now, we welcome Rachel, her oddities and talent, into ours.