March 30, 2017


Future Women's History Month: Rachel Bloom Subverts Rom-Com Tropes

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Fuse is celebrating Women's History Month by looking at a variety of rising forces who are creating Future Women's History before our eyes. We're honoring the ineffably charming Rachel Bloom, creator, writer and star of The CW's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Her portrayal of Rebecca Bunch has earned her Best Actress nods from the Golden Globes and Critics' Choice.

Bloom gained recognition by producing and starring in parody videos on YouTube, the most popular being "Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury," a NSFW earworm about how much she adores the sci-fi writer. It was a present to him on his 90th birthday and, allegedly, when he saw it he "was charmed by the whole thing."

Hopefully you'll have plenty of time to peruse all of Bloom's early YouTube videos, but her hit CW show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a treasure on its own. Not only does the romantic musical comedy provide us with amazing original songs in every episode, but it pushes to explore themes that aren't common on network TV. While the name of the show makes you assume one thing, the first season's theme song clears up any misconceptions about its intentions right off the back, calling its own title "a sexist term" and asserting that "the situation's a lot more nuanced than that." Obviously, Bloom is very self-aware.

And that's just the start; CEG tackles topics like depression and mental healthJewish heritageFilipino culturefeminismabortion, and bisexuality — to name a few.   

Speaking on her own struggles with depression, Bloom told Glamour in a revealing essay: 

"The thing that has most aided me through my anxiety and depression is realizing I’m not alone. I’m naturally bubbly, even when I’m sad. But here’s what people can’t see: During a spiral the world feels dark. I have anxiety about anxiety, then I worry the anxiety will ruin my life. It’s a snake-eats-tail loop. But in opening up to others, I found a lot of people have felt the same way."

And circling back to the depiction of abortion in season two: Paula, an older married mother of two teenage sons and Bloom's best friend on the show, realizes she's pregnant soon after she is accepted to law school. In a storyline that subverts all our expectations about abortion, Paula has the procedure and shows no signs of shame or regret. In fact, it's a minor point in the plot of the episode—one that moreso provides a vehicle for Bloom's character's self-centeredness than to bring up any moral issues or condemnation of abortion. 

In fact, Bloom has said that the real love story of CEG is between the two best friends on the show, Paula and Rebecca, which flips the "Bechdel test on its head." For a show that's focused on a woman winning back her summer-camp boyfriend, it's remarkable how many tropes are completely shattered (while singing and dancing, natch). 

Rachel Bloom's fearless ability to venture where not many other TV writers will go is something that will undoubtedly be copied by future rom-coms and movies alike. Now that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has been renewed for a third season, it's only the beginning for Bloom and her fresh brand of openness and honesty. (And we're excited for more addicting songs too, obviously.)

We're celebrating Future Women's History all month long! Tune in to Fuse and come back to every day for profiles, videos and more. Find Fuse in your area with our Channel Finder.