Rachel Bloom On Playing A Character Who Is “Broken Inside”

Photo: Courtesy of Smallz & Raskind/The CW.
If you haven't seen the ending of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend season 1, step away from this story and go tune into Netflix immediately — unless, that is, you're comfortable with spoilers and don't need to witness the moment Rebecca Bunch and Josh Chan consummate their long-awaited love connection. Actually, that was a spoiler. You might as well stick around. Moving on! We're big fans of Rebecca Bunch around these parts — not to mention, the woman behind both the character and the series: Rachel Bloom. We spoke with the Emmy winner about her show's sophomore-season return on October 21, and she spilled about some relationship-status updates we've been wondering about, plus some of her own "crazy" ex-girlfriend behaviors from back in the day. The poster tagline for season 2 is "I can fix that," against the backdrop of a broken heart. Any spoilers about what Rebecca has to fix?
"There is a line coming up where she says: 'I can fix this, I can fix this, I can fix this.' In the broadest sense, you can never un-say what she said to Josh in the season finale; in some sense, [this] season is trying to scramble and put together the pieces of the thing she broke in the season [1] finale. In a deeper sense, there is something about Rebecca that is broken inside, and she’s trying to pursue happiness and fix it. "I think that the question of the series is: What does it take to be truly happy? What will it take for Rebecca to be happy, and can she fix her broken self? She’s in for a ride, let’s say, this season. She's more open about how she feels, and with that comes vulnerability, more heartbreak, and more opportunities to be hurt. Because when you're open about what you want, and then you don't get what you want, it makes it worse in some ways."

Why do male screenwriters often write, 'Pretty but doesn't know it'? Why is that such a fantasy?

Rachel Bloom
Does that "I can fix this" theme in season 2 apply to other characters — like Paula, for instance?
"Oh, yes — I would say this season, we open it up to the other characters even more. We really look at everyone's journey of, 'What does it actually take you to be happy?' Oftentimes, that means hard work, and complications along the way. That's where I think the most change comes this season, is people actually asking themselves: 'What does it take for me to be happy?' And if you aren't happy, and you wanna be happy, you gotta change something." Change can be a scary thing, especially at a point in a woman's life at which she is on the cusp of major life changes anyway.
"Yeah. Paula's in her forties, and she has a certain lifestyle. She has two kids, she has obligations that women in their twenties, like Rebecca, don't have. We talk about women in their twenties, and [how] it's a hard time — and it is a hard time, because you're still finding who you are — but being a woman in your forties, and still not quite where you wanna be in terms of happiness, is arguably more difficult. You're locked into certain decisions that are harder to get out of." What's going on with White Josh and Darryl?
"Oh, they are still together. They're going strong. They are really cute. Let's just say: They're still together, and we'll be exploring them further."

Nine times out of 10, if someone is acting insane, the other person has done something to merit that person being insane.

Rachel Bloom
Has digging into season 2 made you think about your own crazy ex-girlfriend moments, if you have any?
"In some ways, I always felt like a crazy ex-girlfriend. But it was very self-flagellating, because when you're a crazy ex, it's like: 'Oh my god, my ex is crazy.' Nine times out of 10, if someone is acting insane, the other person has done something to merit that person being insane — there's a culpability on the side of both parties. "I never did anything like Rebecca because, in some ways, I think that I have always been able to pursue happiness in ways that Rebecca can't. I've always pursued theater — that was always my passion. My parents never forced me to do anything I didn't wanna do, unlike Rebecca's mother." Her mom is just terrifying.
"Terrifying, but so true — so relatable to me [laughs]. I never got to that level of misery. I think I was always afraid of being seen as crazy. Which, Rebecca doesn't have that fear as much. For me, it's really like: I want to be seen as rational, I want to be seen as not crazy. "And so, I think that inside I felt like Rebecca, emotionally. But I never did half the things that she did because there was a certain — in a good way — self-censorship on my actions. But I let myself become boy-crazy in ways that I still find debasing of myself. I didn't ever climb outside of a guy's room to stalk him — it was all subtle things. But those subtle things, in many ways, were me lying to myself. That's almost more humiliating than climbing a tree outside of a guy's house to stalk him." We also seem to have our work cut out for us in terms of undoing the "crazy girlfriend" stereotype.
"The world, for so many years, has been ruled by men. Still is. With that, you get the male gaze, the way men see the world. [It's] the de facto: 'This is the way everything should be.' I was talking to a screenwriter, and I asked him: 'Why do male screenwriters often write, Pretty but doesn't know it? Why is that such a fantasy — that a woman would be pretty and doesn't know it?' "He goes: 'Well, men want to write someone who is hot, but who they could theoretically fuck. Because women who are pretty and do know it don't wanna fuck screenwriters.' [laughs] If women were the prevailing force in the world, I think you'd have a different standard. Gender is a very complicated thing that I'm still actively learning about — I think we're all still actively learning about gender. Especially people I know who are trans. They think about gender in a way that I have never had to." Crazy Ex-Girlfriend returns to the CW on Friday, October 21, at 9 p.m. EST.

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