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Arts and Entertainment

Creators Of 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' TV Show On West Covina's Starring Role

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Despite the misleading name, the only thing crazy about the upcoming CW show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is how crazy good the pilot is. There are a lot of laughs, some gross-out humor (spoiler: ass blood makes an appearance in the premiere) and a few really catchy songs. We had a chance to catch it at Monday night's PaleyFest Fall Preview event and chatted with the actors and creators about the show.

For those who may not know about the musical comedy, it was originally created as a half-hour Showtime series by actress-comedian-writer, Rachel Bloom (Robot Chicken and YouTube's Rachel Does Stuff), and Aline Brosh McKenna, the scribe behind The Devil Wears Prada. Although Showtime ultimately passed, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend eventually landed at the younger-skewing CW network as an hour-long show. It's being paired with Jane the Virgin on Monday nights, beginning on Oct. 12.

The show stars Bloom as Rebecca Bunch, a workaholic corporate lawyer in New York, who's burning out and in the throes of a life crisis just as she's getting promoted to junior partner. She needs a change in her life, and at that exact moment, she runs into an old boyfriend from arts camp, Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III), on the streets of the city. She suggests they go out to catch up, but he's moving back home to West Covina.

Yep, West Covina plays a prominent role in the pilot episode in which Rebecca quits her job and takes a gig at a smaller law firm in the SGV. More specifically, the 91791, which is just "two hours from the beach, four in traffic." (That line is said so much in the pilot that the city should adopt it as its official motto.) Rebecca immediately bursts into full-on musical mode, singing about—and in—West Covina, as seen in the trailer below. (The series songs are all original, co-written by Bloom, Adam Schlesinger and Jack Dolgen.)

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So why West Covina? "We knew we wanted it to be [located] in Southern California," said Bloom. "We wanted it to be a fish-out-of-water story, and practically every fish-out-of-water story takes place in New Jersey or the Midwest." So, she and Brosh McKenna, looked to L.A.'s suburbs for something different. Bloom also wanted the location to channel some of her own childhood experiences—both the good and bad—growing up and feeling a little out of place in Manhattan Beach. "I grew up at the beach living with neurotic Jews," she said. "Basically, I was like Mel Brooks in a 10-year-old girl's body."

Ultimately, they chose West Covina because the name has a nice ring to it (see aforementioned video), and it's become a "symbol of new America," Bloom said. She also added that they were drawn to the city's inordinate number of chain restaurants. "That's what America is—all races and cultures going into the same Applebee's," she said.

Since Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is set in the San Gabriel Valley, they wanted to make sure the lead and background actors represented the culture. "We always wanted the male lead to be Asian because I grew up with Asian bros, and I hadn't seen that represented on TV." Rodriguez, who plays her object of obsession/affection, is Filipino. (Unfortunately, he wasn't able to attend the Paley event.) The show also features Donna Lynne Champlin, who plays Rebecca's office "frenemy," and Santino Fontana (best known as Hans from Frozen) as a local bartender.

The pilot episode reminded us of Ally McBeal (1997-2002), and Brosh McKenna said that while she was a fan of the FOX show, the young woman attorney with flights of fancy is a coincidence. "It wasn't necessarily something that we had patterned the show after, but now that [I've seen episodes] I can see the similarities."

Added Bloom, "I loved the fantastical elements [of Ally McBeal] and also its idea of a nuanced woman on television, especially during the time it was on. I like to say that [our] show is Ally McBeal meets Flight of the Conchords."

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend premieres on Monday, Oct. 12 at 8 pm on the CW.