Crazy Ex-Girlfriend just concluded a terrific second season. I reviewed the finale here, and I have a spoiler-filled interview with co-creator/star Rachel Bloom and co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna coming up just as soon as I call Oscar-winning movies “clients”…
So, as discussed in that finale review, season two closes with Josh leaving Rebecca at the altar so that he can enter the priesthood, which prompts Rebecca — whom we have just learned was once institutionalized after having an affair with a married professor and trying to burn down his house when he broke up with her — to stand on a cliff at the edge of the Pacific and coldly tell her squad, “Josh Chan must be destroyed.” Here’s what McKenna and Bloom had to say about that, and a lot more.
How much faith did you have that the show would continue, and were you comfortable with the idea that this could have been the last episode?
Aline Brosh McKenna: I always say it’s like the Tim McGraw song, “Live Like You Were Dying.” We just always write like we’re not getting canceled. This was our plan to do it, to do these four seasons in this way, and so we just stuck to that. And they’re so supportive of the show that we felt more confident this year than we did the previous year.
Rachel Bloom: I was incredibly confident. And if they were at all on the fence about renewing us, I think they would have given us some sort of warning about, “Hey, maybe you want to start wrapping things up.” We’ve been pretty open with them about our plan and what the arc of the show is. They respect the show and they respect us. They wouldn’t fuck us like that.
So why is this an important place to take Rebecca to as the series reaches its planned midpoint?
McKenna: When we pitched it initially, however many years ago, this was in our very first pitch in the first round of meetings we took with various networks: “Josh Chan must be destroyed.” So this was something that we always wanted to end this season with. [Rebecca] has a tendency to take on roles that she understands in the culture. And in this moment of intense disappointment, instead of looking within, which is something she doesn’t like to do very much, she grabs at another prototype: the spurned woman, who is a destroyer.
Bloom: When you think of the title Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, this is what you think of. You think of someone vindictive, and we wanted to fully explore the full implications of the title when we thought of the show.
McKenna: So this is a different mode. The first season mode was, “Oh, you’re at Starbucks, I’m at Starbucks!” And the second season was, “We’ve slept together and you have to say that you love me.” Now we’re moving more towards what you think of when you think of the title, which is, “How do I get this person off of me?”
And now you’ve pretty much left behind any will-they/won’t-they questions about Rebecca and Josh as a couple. This is new territory.
Bloom: Exactly. Seasons 1 and 2 were a rom-com, at least in Rebecca’s head, and now it’s a stalker thriller.
McKenna: “Now I’m Glenn Close.”
Bloom: Now it’s the movie Swimfan, which is a lesser-known but similar to Fatal Attraction stalker movie about a woman who’s a fan of swimming, as the title would imply.
McKenna: Also, the idea for her is that this is a prototype and something she can play, but she’s fundamentally a good person, so I think this is going to be a struggle for her to pull it off with quite the amount of evil brio that she would like to.
What are some of the things you learned from making the first season — whether story or tone or what your actors could do — that you were able to apply to making this one?
McKenna: We knew the actors pretty well. The big discovery for us was Scott Michael Foster, who just exploded onto the show. I can’t overstate how well he’s fit into our traveling troupe. He can do anything. He’s been the biggest discovery.
Bloom: And as far as what we learned in the first season, so many things. But there’s something that Aline says really well about story on the show, which is you need almost like an excuse into the propulsion. Aline, I always remember you saying with episode 114, “Josh Is Going to Hawaii!” It isn’t enough that she just kissed Josh, now it’s like, “I need to make Josh see that we’re in love.” We had to give her a tangible goal — get tickets to Hawaii — so that the thematic stuff wasn’t overbearing.
McKenna: In season 2 of this year, when she’s trying to show Josh she’s cool, we conquertized it with her saying she’s good at ping pong. Which is just stupid, but that’s how she’s boiled it down in her mind, that she’s fixated on one thing that’s going to make her think she’s awesome.
Bloom: Otherwise, the story kind of wanders. “If I want to make Josh think I’m cool, I’m going to try this, then I’m going to try this,” and it becomes The Three Bears, where you’re just trying different things, and the story doesn’t have any build or propulsion, really. That’s been a really interesting thing that Aline has said a lot that’s spawned.