How The "Insanity" Of Obsessive Love Inspired Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Photo: Scott Everett White/The CW.
Rachel Bloom in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
The last time I obsessed over a boy, there was no Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. There were only telephones and all you could do was stare at them. I thought staring at the phone would make it ring. We all did.

Now, the options for stalking and obsessing are endless. I’m not sure how anyone does their homework or gets a job when it’s so easy to spend your time tracking and following a crush. When you’re in the throes of an obsession, it must seem logical to spend the whole day checking the list of who liked your crush’s Instagram post or to scramble around Facebook looking up his last five exes to see if they look better in a bikini than you do.

When Rachel Bloom and I began working on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, we regaled each other for hours with stories of the unwise things we had done for love, especially the loves that had rejected us. It was the ones who got away (or in the case of my husband, tried to get away and failed) who were particularly compelling. We both had vivid memories of all the ex-boyfriend scheming we had done and the lies we had told ourselves to justify those schemes. Those memories formed much of the basis for our show.

In Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Rebecca Bunch (played by Rachel) takes this kind of obsessive behavior to an extreme, but the truth is, we have never found her actions to be all that exaggerated. We’ve all done seriously dumb things for love, haven’t we?

When we pitched the show, we were amazed when every meeting turned into a confessional. People were eager to tell us the shocking, silly, outrageous things they had done during various courtships. One executive described in detail a tattoo of a tiger on her back, gotten to commemorate her freedom after a terrible breakup.

In all these stories, people talked about feeling out of control. When you are in love and especially when you are spurned by love, your body is coursing with powerful chemicals, ones that control your behavior in ways you know are not rational. We all know that, on some level, love makes you at least a little crazy.
Advertisement
Photo: Scott Everett White/The CW.
(From left) Donna Lynne Champlin, Bloom, and Aline Brosh McKenna on the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend set.
Our lead character, Rebecca, has no rational reason for being so drawn to her obsession, Josh Chan. Sure, he’s kind and handsome, but it’s a deeper, more irrational urge calling out from her to him —the hope that her childhood wounds will be fixed by who she imagines him to be (hence the boy band song where she envisions him singing that he will solve all her childhood traumas.)

Rebecca’s infatuation is exacerbated by her many unresolved psychological issues — depression, anxiety, obsessive tendencies — that make her particularly susceptible to getting on the love roller coaster.

On some level, Rebecca knows that Josh Chan is not really worthy of her focussed attention. That’s part of what makes her obsession so relatable. How many times have you looked back on someone you would have leapt off a cliff for and thought, Really? What was I thinking?

Our culture is always telling us how critically important love is — in songs, books, movies, TV shows — it’s always presented and marketed as our ultimate happy ending. Women, especially, are taught to see life as a story that ends with romantic completion — a kiss, a wedding, a happily ever after.

But love is not an answer or a cure-all for anyone and especially not for Rebecca. No man will ever “fix” her. As one of our characters tells her, “It’s not the guys!” Josh Chan is not a solution. He’s an object, an oasis, a totem. On some level, Rebecca knows this. And still, she struggles to let go.

At some point we all, just like Rebecca, have to look past the easy solutions offered by fairy tales and love songs. We have to do the tough work of figuring out what makes us happy, who we are, how to be a good person, and how to be useful in the world.

That work is hard to do. It’s tempting, and maybe somehow comforting, to sit by the phone — or nowadays, the screen — and hope for someone to come along and sweep us away into a fantasy where love makes our problems disappear.

Aline Brosh McKenna is the executive producer and co-creator of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. She is also a screenwriter whose credits include The Devil Wears Prada, 27 Dresses, and Morning Glory.
Advertisement

More from TV

A new Anne of Green Gables movie is on the way! Those of you who have been fearing the inevitable tense political debate with a long-lost relative that ...
There are two kinds of TV-watchers out there. The first are normal, well-balanced people who are dying from the very beginning to know how a series ends...
The Pfeffermans are back! To quickly get up to speed, check out our Binge Club for season 2. Already set? Let's get this started. Episode 1: "Elizah" ...
The 2016 Emmy Awards were off to a great start when a surprising announcement came over the loudspeaker. A voiceover announced the next presenter: none ...
It's been over 12 years since Friends ended. And we still miss the shit out of that show. Luckily, every once in a while we're blessed with a nostalgic ...
Wait, what? American Horror Story co-creator Ryan Murphy just dropped a bomb on viewers — who are currently caught up in AHS season six, My Roanoke ...
Glee's cast sounds as dramatic as the characters they played. Ryan Murphy recently told Entertainment Weekly that all the fights and relationships ...
Kimmy Schmidt lives in her own world. It's a cross between middle school, the year 1999, and present-day New York. Mix in the fact that she was held ...
In a move that made Big Brother history, female contestant Nicole Franzel beat Paul Abrahamian in Wednesday night's finale, Buzzfeed reports. While this ...
It's no secret that Eleven on Stranger Things was the little-less-conversation-little-bit-more-action sort — minus the sexual Ariana Grande overtones. We...
There’s a certain feeling that wells up when you’ve just entered a room you were never supposed to be in. These rooms never have an overt warning sign; ...
Grey's Anatomy is back, and Alex is maybe a felon! The hospital's most lovable hothead finally snapped in a criminal way, beating the hell out of DeLuca ...
Amazing news, TV lovers of the world: Since we first published this story in 2013, there have been leaps and bounds in the number of streaming platforms ...
Awkward school photos, we've taken a few. That's why we can't help but sympathize with the doozy Kristen Bell pulled out on The Late Late Show Wednesday ...