Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's Rachel Bloom on the 'Escapism' of Hulu's 'Reboot'

CUL PS Rachel Bloom
Rachel Bloom Benjo Arwas/Getty

"I've always been someone who likes escapism, but also is too smart for escapism."

Reboots have become so popular that it was only a matter of time before there needed to be a show about a reboot poking fun at the very idea of a reboot. Enter Reboot (Hulu, September 20), which follows the cast of a popular family sitcom brought back together for a darker take on the original series. "I think the title is great because it's not only a reboot of a show, but people are wanting a reboot of their lives," says Rachel Bloom, who plays Hannah, the series' showrunner. "What's interesting about my character is that she grew up watching the show and is coming at it from both a nostalgia place, but also then wants to, as she says, f*ck with it. She wants to do something dark." As for where Bloom stands on reboots. "I'm kind of with Hannah. What was the thesis statement of the previous show? Has the world changed where that thesis statement is negated? Have a true reason." That said, there's one show she's eager to see get the reboot treatment. "A Frasier reboot is really exciting to me because I love Frasier. I've seen every episode."

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Reboots are crazy popular right now, so it was only a matter of time before there was a show about reboots. Why do you think this is such a good premise for a show?

I think the cheesier the show, the funnier it is to imagine. You're bringing people back for a reboot, they're 20 years older, the show was kind of for kids. Like with Calum's character [Reed, played by Calum Worthy], you have someone who was a kid and now they're an adult. It's almost like if you made a high school [show] and not only are you going to a high school reunion, but you're going back to high school, and we're going to film it. There's just inherent tension and inherent weirdness in everything. And I think the title is great because it's not only a reboot of a show, but people are wanting a reboot of their lives. What's cool about this is there's a way to have done this show that's purely cynical. Like everyone is a f*cking terrible person. There are definitely dark comedy elements in the show. But I think because the title is Reboot, there's an inherent hope in the show, which I think is actually kind of unique for slice-of-life, showbiz stories, because most of them are so cynical with an inherent thesis statement of everyone is terrible.

Rachel Bloom on Hulu's 'Reboot'
Hannah and Gordon’s relationship is tested when he brings in a new cast member without her knowledge. This cast member also drives a wedge between Reed and Bree. Clay gets sucked into a new relationship with someone close to Zack. Hannah (Rachel Bloom), and Elaine (Krista Marie Yu), shown. Michael Desmond/Hulu

There is an element of nostalgia we have with reboots, in that we want to get back to that version of our lives. Before this and that and this happened. Like with Will & Grace, it brought back a sense of the world pre-9/11, pre-economy crashing, pre-political divisions, in a way, etc.

Yeah, we want to go back to who we were, and I think what the world was. I think the real reason for all these reboots—other than making money, obviously, like you have a bunch of streamers that need to make money and reboots of existing IP of existing properties are going to have an inherent fan base—but also like the Will & Grace reboot was inspired by a thing they did for the Hillary campaign. I think that's really telling because the reason to harken back in the first place was we're all scared that Trump is about to get elected, let's feel something heartwarming and encourage people to vote. And then I think when Trump got elected, and the world got infinitely more and more complicated because of that. I think we were just longing for simplicity. The late '90s and early 2000s, mental health-wise, were terrible for me, but I have a weird nostalgia for them, because there was a simplicity. This is really like pre-9/11 what I'm talking about, there was a simplicity to what the world was. I think the same thing during the Obama years. For a lot of us, there was a simplicity of Obama's presidency. Everything's not perfect, but everything's okay. So I think rebooting stuff from a time when we all felt a steadiness, that's what we want to feel again, we want to feel that steadiness of 1998. Like the Bill Clinton impeachment trial was very complicated, but compared to what's going on now, it's quite farcical. I could feel that even as a kid.

It also harkens back to a time with fewer options. There were four networks, basic cable and maybe HBO, but there weren't so many platforms for content as there are now. My TV schedule had a routine to it.

There's a steadiness to your life at least, a steadiness to the routine of your life. At first I maybe thought I had a nostalgia for that again, despite the fact I was dealing with bullying and what I realized now was crippling OCD, truly horrible, there was a steadiness and predictability to life that I'm just nostalgic for because it was when I was a kid. I think everyone is. I think there was something about the mid-to-late '90s. I feel a similar way about 2010 to 2014. We were coming out of the recession. Again, things were far from perfect; social media was a thing but it hadn't become what it is now.

Casts of popular shows are kind of stuck in that group forever, right?

That's a really good point. I think in the show, they've almost been magnetically drawn back because as complicated as the show was, it was still the best thing that ever happened to them. So they all have a weird nostalgia for being in the show. What's interesting about my character is that my character, you find out, grew up watching the show and is coming at it from both a nostalgia place, but also then wants to, as she says, f*ck with it. She wants to do something dark, which is another type of reboot. Because there are two types. There's the reboot that wants to capture the exact essence of what the show is and just be like, let's give you more episodes of what you liked. And then there's stuff like Bel Air, which is a complete reboot, a reimagining. And that's kind of what my character is going for. So it's a little bit having your cake and eating it too.

Rachel Bloom on Hulu's 'Reboot'
Hannah and Gordon’s relationship is tested when he brings in a new cast member without her knowledge. This cast member also drives a wedge between Reed and Bree. Clay gets sucked into a new relationship with someone close to Zack. Gordon (Paul Reiser), and Hannah (Rachel Bloom), shown. Hulu

Your character also has this dance between leaning in to the fun of the nostalgia, but also like keeping it cool.

Drama and gossip over a thing give you an excuse to be, "Yes, it'd be cool." I feel a lot of that. I've always been someone who likes escapism, but also is too smart for escapism. So there's a dark part of my personality and then a light side, and they're almost always at war and they're almost always commenting on each other. And never the two shall meet, and I feel like the character I'm playing in Reboot is that type of person. Struggling with this nostalgia but also some very dark parts of herself and how do they come together?

And your character really finds that balance.

That's why I think there are very different parts of her. Throughout the show, she continues to struggle with how to marry those two sides of herself. Hannah's take on the reboot, she says in the opening scene, "I want to f*ck with it." Right? She wants to take something that was a happy show that she loved as a kid and show the dark side of the characters, which is more than I can say for most reboots. Because if you ask why reboots [are] a thing, I don't think most people have an answer.

What shows would you like to see reboot that haven't been rebooted yet?

I mean, I have joke answers for this. I think the most excitement I ever feel when I read about a reboot is the press release, because it's the promise of this is going to happen. When you actually see it, we'll just go back and watch all the episodes now that we have every show streaming. That's your reboot. Just go back and watch. I'm trying to earnestly answer this question. A Frasier reboot is really exciting to me because I love Frasier. I've seen every episode.

If in 20 years, there was a reboot for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, where would your character Rebecca be? And how do you think it would be done?

Well, here's what I think is actually really interesting. So Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I got very specific with the timeline. We did the math, and the series finale, because it jumps ahead a year, the series finale takes place on February 14, 2020. On February 14, Rebecca realized her true life's ambition was to go into live performance. Now if Crazy Ex-Girlfriend takes place in a world where COVID happened, the ending is kind of a tragedy because she's realized this potential, and then everything goes to sh*t. What I think is interesting is we had this show that is all about not who are you inside? Who do you want to be? Make your own fate, you tell your own story, you write your own song. But then a pandemic happens and that has nothing to do with personal fulfillment, has nothing to do with destiny, people are f*cking dying. And so suddenly, all these themes of what makes you truly happy pale in comparison. You need to stay inside so you don't die. We thought about [this storyline] because one of my writing partners, Adam Schlesinger, died of this. And it puts a lot of myths in perspective. So if I were to reboot Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, it's almost like I wouldn't call it Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, because that's a title that was purposefully deconstructed. You'd almost want to call it like Rebecca's Journey. That's a terrible title. A lot of people have problems with the title Crazy Ex-Girlfriend because they take it at face value. For me, that was always the perfect title because the whole show is a deconstruction of the outside. It's the deconstruction of tropes. So if I were to reboot it, it's almost like you take the characters and tell a new story and you call it like West Covina or something. I wouldn't call it Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. So that's what I find interesting and that's a reason to potentially reboot Crazy Ex at some point. I don't know. I'm kind of with Hannah on a reason to reboot something. What was the thesis statement of the previous show? Has the world changed where that thesis statement is negated? Have a true reason.

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