One Last Song and Dance With the 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' Cast (Exclusive)
By Emily Krauser
Greg Gayne/The CW
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has wrapped. But it hasn't. But it has. As Rebecca Bunch might say, it's a whole thing, and then she'd break into a show tune fit for Broadway while dressed as Marilyn Monroe.
And it is a whole thing, because when ET visited Rachel Bloom (Rebecca) and her West Covina cohorts, they were rehearsing for a live concert special, which will air directly after tonight's series finale. The show itself has ceased filming, and the cast had already shed many tears during their last table read, followed by quite a few more after shooting their final scene together, which more than two dozen of your most familiar Crazy Ex faces will appear in. (Don't worry, that is not a spoiler alert, nor will we give you any spoilers in this piece, because we like to keep our heads from being chopped off, thankyouverymuch.)
While a final episode would be the end for most casts, this is not most casts. On the warm Southern California afternoon that ET is spending with them -- Bloom, Gabrielle Ruiz (Valencia Perez), Donna Lynne Champlin (Paula Proctor), Vella Lovell (Heather Davis), Scott Michael Foster (Nathaniel Plimpton III), David Hull (White Josh) and a host of other Crazy Ex regulars have already spent a few hours in a windowless studio stuffed with so many costumes, props and blow-up instruments that it looks they've been enveloped by a bar mitzvah fever dream. Ahead of them is still two days of taping the live finale in downtown Los Angeles, a PaleyFest LA panel, plenty of press interviews, two shows at New York City's Radio City Music Hall this summer, and at least one more trip to a theme park once they've all gotten through pilot season and stopped to breathe for a hot minute. All of this time together after the series has wrapped speaks to the camaraderie built over Crazy Ex's four years, though Hull admits that all these upcoming events made the finale feel like an "anti-climatic climax because, in large part, everyone was done, but we all knew this was happening. It felt kind of strange."
But, like, in a good way. "It feels a little like the end of a school year and you know you're going to see them at graduation and again when everyone goes on that trip together in the summer, so it's not like college has come yet," Foster elaborates. "Even after the Radio City show, I don't think it will all be done for us, because we're all on a massive group chat together and we all hang out together. I've been on shows where it's like, 'Bye!' and then you never see them again. I was on a show a few years ago and a lot of the cast I still talk to on a regular basis. Greek was years ago, and we're still pretty good friends. But this one does feel a little different. I've made a lot of good friends in a small amount of time on this show, and it really feels like we've made some lasting friendships."
The crazy close-knit Crazy Ex cast even seems perfectly at ease now despite the work they have ahead of them. In just a couple of days, they'll be playing themselves singing songs from the show, which includes new choreography and some mashup medleys. There were over 150 original tunes to choose from for this concert special, and a solid chunk of fan favorites will be crammed into the hour special, save for one obvious exception -- there will be no live version of "First Penis I Saw."
"I look at 'First Penis,' and I know everyone loves it, but I listen to it and get agita," Champlin admits. It's just stupid actor-singer insecurities. I always think, 'I wish I sang that better.' That particular song happened to be right in my break, so we moved that key around at least four times to try to find a place where I could switch registers without you hearing it, which is a very tricky thing for a soprano. If anyone's disappointed that 'First Penis' is not in the live finale, that is my fault. I said to the music department, please, if you have to pick a song for me, please make it 'Face Your Fears' or 'Maybe This Dream.' That is 100 percent my call and if anyone's angry about it, come at me, do not go over to Rachel or [co-creator and producer] Jack Dolgen or [executive music producer] Adam Schlesinger!"
(She laughed while saying that last sentence, but just know that you can watch "First Penis" below just to feel better, because it's freakin' delightful.)
We promise plenty of other gems are in the show (shoulder pads! sexy getting ready songs!). And after watching the finale, it may be a relief to just sing along to some fan favorites, because we all know that it's been exhausting shipping Josh, Nathaniel and Greg. Looking back at Crazy Ex's four seasons, it's pretty incredible how much groundbreaking one little show that could has done: the cast is extremely diverse, period sex was sung about on primetime TV, mental health issues were treated with respect, and both heterosexual and gay relationships were lauded with little unnecessary fanfare (if you ignore that cliff...). The show was about what it's like to live and love and figure out who you are along the way -- not each element on their own, but all together.
"In regards to diversity, all we did was match what Southern California is like. I grew up here. Especially throughout the San Gabriel Valley, we looked at the demographics -- it's 50 percent Hispanic, it's 25 percent Asian-American. You just match that. It's what life is," Bloom explains. "As far as the tonal stuff, it's kind of an instinctive dogma -- you just know it when you see it. For us, it was always, was it telling the story we wanted to in the show and was it coming, theoretically, from a grounded, emotional place? Like going to jail [at the beginning of season four], we like to think it didn't come out of left field, that this is what the whole season was about, which was the idea of a spiral, coming out of it, and then taking full responsibility for who you are."
Every cast member not only felt like those stories were told well but also that their characters truly had arcs that lined up with those intentions, complete with endings that made perfect sense for each individual fictional person.
"I had assumed the wedding was going to be the end of Heather coming full circle, but there was some stuff with Heather and Hector dealing with their marriage in the last few episodes. It's not like once you're married your life ends and you have no problems -- it's not a perfect ending," Lovell admits. "Heather and Hector are ridiculous. They still have kinks to figure out. It's very interesting that these characters are always going to live on in the fictional West Covina and still have their problems and still have things come up, but in terms of the show, it very much feels like Heather completely came out of her self-inflicted box she was living in."
Champlin feels similarly about Rebecca's BFF and mother figure, Paula. "I'm very satisfied," the Broadway veteran said of her character's final episodes. "It's funny because I feel like Paula is always juggling work, family, friends, and then herself, finally. What I love is that where we end, she's still juggling all of those things, but her priorities are different. It's still the same juggle because as working moms, that doesn't change. You're always juggling your kids and soccer games and work and meetings and babysitters. I live it as a working mom. So, I love that struggle never changed for her, but what did change was the different choices she makes now amidst that same struggle."
And no matter how you think the show will end, for the cast, as Lovell puts it, everything "makes perfect sense."
"I really do feel like the last few episodes are like love letters to the fans. Especially for people who have seen every episode, it's all inside jokes, callbacks, and threads tying up," she says. "Truly, there's not a circle that's left unclosed. At this point, we know who the show is for and the writers and Rachel and [co-creator] Aline Brosh McKenna care so much about that, so it feels like they're very much like, 'What do the fans want and need and how are they going to feel like the story has best been served?' And I think it has been."
But first, the cast has to get through this rehearsal unscathed. Spoiler alert: they mostly did. We make no promises, however, about the plastic saxophones.