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BEYOND CRAZY

Rachel Bloom is saving a generation of women from thinking they’re “crazy”

By Leah Fessler & Meghan McDonough

I wrote my college thesis on women’s experiences with hookup culture. Of the nearly 400 people I surveyed, over 70% said they repressed romantic feelings for the men they were sleeping for fear of appearing “crazy” or “clingy.” I was one of those women, paranoid that my romantic, obsessive, over-analytic tendencies would sentence me to eternal loneliness. After all, society hates nothing more than a “crazy woman.”

When I, and my equally intense peers found Rachel Bloom, everything changed. We saw ourselves in her work, and instead of crying, we laughed. Really hard. Anxiety, it turns out, is far more funny when you turn it into absurd videos about stealing pets and fucking Ray Bradbury, the prolific sci-fi writer. (Fahrenheit 69? Sure.)

Bloom is unapologetically “crazy.” In fact, she’s the creator and star of an Emmy-award winning TV show called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. It’s about Rebecca Bunch (note the name similarity to Bloom), a deeply unhappy lawyer who moves across the country to pursue the boy she dated as a preteen at summer camp.

As a comedian, singer, actor, and writer, Bloom’s work masterfully exposes, then hand-grenades every stereotype of over-emotional women. From the YouTube music videos that made her famous—please watch “Pictures of Your Dick” now—to the parody songs that define Crazy-Ex—it’d be impossible to choose a favorite—Bloom is undeniably hilarious. But to dismiss her vision as pure comedy is to miss the profound social commentary her (often uncomfortably) raw characters prod us to reckon with.

As Crazy-Ex enters its fourth and final season on the CW Network, and Bloom stars in her first feature film, Most Likely to Murder, I sat down with her for an exclusive interview. In it, Bloom explains why musical theatre is the most powerful medium to talk about mental health and romantic obsession, why some male comedians fear funny women, how she writes her infamous songs, and why she confronted a male co-writer who made her cry almost daily.

This interview is part of How We’ll Win, Quartz’s year long series on the fight for gender equality at work.