Rachel Bloom Was Born This Way

Rachel Bloom is concerned that someone is spying on us. She’s sitting across from me at Echo Park’s Andante Coffee Roasters, sporting a pair of vintage sunglasses that previously belonged to a now-dead Holocaust survivor (more on this later) and a red Free People peasant dress that previously belonged to her Crazy Ex-Girlfriend character Rebecca Bunch (“I’m going to a beer festival after this, so I wanted a dress that I could have a beer belly in,” she explains within 90 seconds of sitting down). In the middle of walking me through the juicy, twisted conclusion to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s season finale — which, on this warm November morning, is months from its February 3 airdate — Bloom stops suddenly, adjusts her Holocaust glasses, and drops her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “We’re being quiet, right?” she asks. “That guy over there isn’t writing down what I’m saying?”

One can forgive Bloom for being slightly paranoid. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which Bloom also co-writes and executive produces, has been one of TV’s strangest, most sidelong success stories in recent memory, the sort of oddball underdog that usually gets Freaks and Geeks’d or My So-Called-Life’d after a single transcendent season. Sprung from the brains of Bloom and co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna, the series was originally purchased by Showtime in 2014 before being dropped unceremoniously. The CW swooped in and rescued it in 2015 and has since renewed it twice, despite consistently low ratings. By all traditional forms of measurement and American taste (see: The Bachelor franchise, Kevin James sitcoms), Crazy Ex-Girlfriend shouldn’t still be on the air. The general consensus is that its survival is due, in part, to its near-unanimous critical acclaim — Zadie Smith called the show “sublime,” The New Yorker‘s Emily Nussbaum tweeted that the show is her “panic room,” the Golden Globes gave Bloom a Best Actress In A Musical or Comedy award last year and nominated her again this year — and the sheer idiosyncrasy of its subject matter and tone.

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