The golden age for women in comedy
Golden Globe winner Rachel Bloom is a star on the rise, following in the footsteps of Tina Fey and Lena Dunham, writes CLARE RIGDEN
TWO years ago, if you’d told Rachel Bloom that, while getting ready for this year’s Golden Globes, she’d be uploading a song she recorded in her underwear to social media and that tens of thousands of people would “like” it, she’d have laughed in your face.
If you’d also told her that after recording the song she’d go on to walk the red carpet and win an award, she’d have believed it even less. Yet that’s exactly what happened.
The 28-year-old’s self-penned series Crazy-Ex-Girlfriend, screening now on Eleven, won her a Globe for Best Comedy Actress – and her “Sexy Golden Globey Song” video, which she recorded in her Spanx, scored her a legion of new fans. “Oh my gosh, it’s been unbelievable,” Bloom says over the phone from her base in LA. “I never thought anything like this would happen. And I certainly didn’t think it would happen relatively soon.”
So how did a drama graduate, who just a few years ago was best known for uploading a series of spoof songs to YouTube, go on to become one of the hottest properties in Hollywood?
And how on Earth did she successfully pitch a comedy that’s at once subversive, subtly feminist – and features singing and dancing numbers in every episode?
“It’s all down to my co-creator, Aline Brosh McKenna,” Bloom says.
“When you go into a room with someone like her, people just want to work with her.”
An established screenwriter in Hollywood, Brosh McKenna was trawling YouTube when she stumbled across Bloom’s work. Intrigued, she contacted her about a project she’d been wanting to make, and they went on to collaborate.
“If I’d just gone into a room alone, with something like this, people would have said, ‘ What the f--- are you talking about?’,” Bloom says. The show was a very specific sell. “We knew we wanted it to be dark, and we knew we wanted it to have cursing and stuff. And also, I wanted to play the lead, which with a network, there is no way they would have been automatically on board with. And the idea of auditioning for my own TV show was just noxious to me.”
You’ve got to hand it to Bloom – she’s got chutzpah. But, as she explains, pitching a show as specific as Crazy-Ex-Girlfriend, which is about a young lawyer who gives up her high-powered job in New York to relocate to a tiny Southern Californian town to follow an ex from her teen years, wasn’t as difficult as it would have been if she was doing it even two years ago. She credits the likes of Lena Dunham and Tina Fey for paving the way.
“I’m constantly inspired by my contemporaries, like Abbi and Ilana in Broad City, and Jess St Claire ( Playing House and Best Friends Forever) and Lena Dunham ( Girls) … it’s a time where I am inspired by the people around me writing and performing their own material.
“I think this is a golden age of comedy, and women in comedy, and people performing their own stuff.”
ELEVEN, THURSDAY, 8.30PM