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‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’: Crafting Those Wacky Songs (Emmy Watch)

The creators and songwriters reveal the secret to Rachel Bloom's successful musical comedy on The CW.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Rachel Bloom in “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”

Eddy Chen/The CW

The “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” songs brilliantly serve as the emotional highs and lows for Rachel Bloom’s Rebecca in her pursuit of love for all the wrong reasons.  And the secret to their success is the great chemistry between co-creator-songwriter-star Bloom, co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna (“The Devil Wears Prada” scribe) and songwriters Jack Dolgen and Adam Schlesinger, who also serves as executive music producer.

“The Sexy Getting Ready Song” from the pilot became the staple for the series in upending a conventional ritual. “We’re looking at the contradictions and ridiculousness of what women have been told about what’s necessary to be acceptable,” explained McKenna, who recommended the song as a horrific event when Rebecca prepares for a party encounter with ex-boyfriend Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III).

“It’s like the musical genre is the straight man,” added Bloom. “And what we say within the genre is the joke. The contrast between the two is what we like playing with.” But Bloom didn’t realize this until McKenna (the musical outsider) smartly pointed out that the song lived in what the lyrics were saying versus what we’re witnessing.

“Settle for Me” reveals how pathetic love can be when Rebecca pursues Greg (Santino Fontana), an underachieving bartender, in “I’m Going on a Date with Josh’s Friend!”

“It’s a Fred and Ginger dance number and exploring the nuances of a real fucked-up relationship,” said Bloom, “which, as an artist, I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time. I did the first pass on the lyrics, Adam took a pass on the melody, and Jack did a punch-up on the jokes.”

Santino Fontana and Rachel Bloom in "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Santino Fontana and Rachel Bloom in “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”

Greg Gayne/The CW

In fact, Schlesinger, who also plays most of the instruments and orchestrates more elaborate numbers, came up with a romantic notion: “I wanted the melody to sound perkier, like a Cole Porter standard, and Rachel liked it.”

By contrast, “Getting Bi” celebrates the coming out of Rebecca’s clueless boss, Darryl (Pete Gardner), in “Josh is Going to Hawaii!”

“I came with the idea of doing an ’80s rock thing, a little bit like Huey Lewis because I thought that would be music that Darryl liked,” continued the Grammy and Emmy-winning Schlesinger (“If I Had Time”).

Meanwhile, Bloom has been wanting to tackle the satire of “Heavy Boobs” (from “Josh’s Sister is Getting Married!”) for ages: “It’s a song not meant for a male gaze but from a female point of view, taking these sexy objects and deconstructing them,” she said.

In summing up and looking forward to spiraling down in season two, McKenna observed, “The first season’s really about denial and the lies that we tell ourselves, and in the second season some of those lies are stripped away from her, and so she has to deal with the realities in front of her.”

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