Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.
In this week’s episode, Variety’s associate features editor of TV, Danielle Turchiano, talks with “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” co-creators Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna about the final season of their CW musical comedy.
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McKenna says the series’ four seasons are “remarkably accurate” to the initial pitch to the network in 2015. “We really conceived of it beginning, middle, and end,” she says. “We really knew this was just going to be about this period in this girl’s life where she’s subject to a very intense romantic obsession and then recovers from it.”
While the season starts with her in jail after pleading guilty to pushing her stalker ex, Trent (Paul Welsh), off a building, Bloom says Rebecca was taking responsibility not just for that action, but for her whole life.
“Taking responsibility is really being fully present in what you are doing in your life and taking that control — ‘This is my life, this is my fate, I’m not going to let other forces determine it,’” she says.
Now that Rebecca is becoming healthier in that respect, Bloom says, “there have definitely been some scenes where it feels like I’m closer to playing myself.”
The 18-episode order for the final season means they’re getting to add more material than they planned, including reprises chosen from their catalog of over 100 songs. But they’re not altering the arc of the season they have had in mind for the past three years. “We’re not going for a big twist,” says Bloom. “We want you to feel by the end of the show that this is not a huge shock, what’s going to happen — it’s going to be organic to what we’ve done.”
In fact, even their final scene is one they’ve had in mind for a while. “There are six words that we pitched as the last words that I think will be the last words,” Bloom reveals.
In the second half of the podcast, “Happy Together” executive producer Ben Winston discusses with Variety‘s executive editor of TV, Debra Birnbaum, the joys of having Harry Styles as a houseguest and what he loves most about working with James Corden.
“Happy Together” centers on Jake (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Claire (Amber Stevens West), a couple who allows Jake’s pop star client (Felix Mallard) to live with them; it is inspired by Winston’s own experience when Styles came to live with him and his wife in England. “He lived with us secretly with nobody knowing for 18 months,” Winston says.
What began as a two-weeks-only request to crash in Winston’s attic while his new house was being renovated evolved into a close friendship with Styles, then just 18. “It was a really beautiful time. He is the most wonderful guy you could ever meet,” Winston says.
Styles is now the godfather to Winston’s first child. “I always say I had a teenager before I had a baby,” says Winston.
Winston also has a producing partnership with “Late Late Show” host Corden, and praises Corden’s “unstoppable ambition” and hunger to try new things, keeping the crew on their toes.
“I just don’t know anybody else who has that many talents,” Winston says of Corden. “A day when he sits behind a desk, tells a few jokes, and then interviews somebody on their new project is a day that he goes home sad … because he’s like, ‘Anybody could have done that job today, you didn’t need me. You could have got anybody.’ … When you are faced with that as a leader in James, it makes you better.”