This story first appeared in The Race Begins issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
When Rachel Bloom first came to Hollywood, the town shocked her. She was an improv comic who’d come up through the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in New York City — and even though she said comedy was “a white, straight and male culture with a competitive, gorilla-beating-the-chest nature,” she’d found creative and accomplished women in that scene.
“I had women I could look up to in New York, but Hollywood was so behind,” she said. “I remember that when ‘Bridesmaids’ came out, there were articles saying, ‘Will “Bridesmaids” finally prove that women can be funny?’ It was insane.
“I’d been seeing women be funny for years — but in Hollywood movies, women just hadn’t been front-and-center funny in the way men had.”
When she and co-creator and showrunner Aline Brosh McKenna pitched their idea for a musical comedy show about a woman who moves across the country to pursue an ex-boyfriend, they found themselves facing rooms full of men. But “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” found a home on The CW — and as Bloom and McKenna prepare for the fourth and final season, they’ve found a climate in Hollywood that is more receptive to women’s voices.
“I do think there have been major strides,” she said of the movement in the entertainment industry and in society in general. “But it’s also definitely pushing a fringe in the other direction.
“That’s why it’s important for us to be mindful, so that we can fight the other side, the reactionary wing that says Time’s Up and #MeToo are bulls— and thinks that men should own women.”
Meanwhile, Bloom is coming off a dark Season 3 of her show, in which her character, Rebecca Bunch, sets out to get revenge on the longtime crush who left her at the altar. As if that weren’t enough, Rebecca faces criminal charges and must own up to her own mental illness. “We knew the season was going to be a [downward] spiral,” she said, “but at some point we knew that we needed to have her come to some kind of realization, which led to the revelation of her mental health problems. This is the season I always wanted to do.”
As an actor — as opposed to her other jobs as writer, co-creator, songwriter and overseer of the show’s musical numbers — Bloom got a particular kick out of the season.
“I was angry a lot, and that’s very soothing to me,” she said. “I like having an excuse to be angry — I have a lot of anger inside that I don’t show, because I’m obsessed with people liking me. I got to go to really dark places, and also use my own experiences with the low points in my life to inform it. It was really intense and challenging and ultimately enjoyable.”
Bloom and McKenna have their eyes on the endgame in Season 4, and on a life after the series that will likely include a Broadway show, a book and an album “of all the dirty songs I couldn’t do on the show.” And when she looks around her at a world in turmoil, she finds a new mission: “If anything,” she said, “it makes us want to look at things with nuance and empathy.”
Read more of TheWrap Emmy magazine’s The Race Begins issue here.