Emmy spotlight: Rachel Bloom deserves recognition for taking ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ to darker, truthful places

Throughout its three seasons “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” has explored the fine line between love and obsession for Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) during her quest for romance. But underneath it all was lurking a dark strain of mental illness. She attempted suicide and was subsequently diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), forcing her to finally face her demons. It’s not the kind of subject matter you’d expect to find in a TV musical comedy, but Bloom deserves credit — not to mention Emmy recognition — for pulling it off with honesty and pathos.

The series, created by Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna, centers on a lawyer who leaves a successful job at a New York firm to pursue the love of her life, Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III), in West Covina, CA. After numerous wacky attempts Rebecca finally ends up with Josh, only to be left at the altar when secrets from her past come to light.

SEE Aline Brosh McKenna (‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ co-creator) chats exploring ‘some of the more extreme aspects’ of Rachel Bloom character [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Season three opened with Rebecca seeking revenge against Josh. She becomes increasingly unhinged, and in the episode “I Never Want to See Josh Again,” as her life falls apart, she’s forced to move back in with her domineering mother (Tovah Feldshuh). Seeing no hope for the future, she swallows a potentially deadly dose of pills while on a plane back to West Covina. But she reaches out for help just in time, and upon returning home begins therapy to deal with her BPD.

“I Never Want to See Josh Again” received raves from critics, particularly for Bloom. “This may not be the flashiest performance she’s given on the show,” wrote Allison Shoemaker (AV Club), “but it may well be the most affecting. It’s certainly the bravest, culminating in that quiet, raw scene on the plane.”

SEE Over 100 video interviews with 2018 Emmy contenders

Can Bloom find her way into the Emmy race? Despite winning the Golden Globe for Best TV Comedy Actress in 2016 for the show’s first season, Bloom was snubbed in that category at the Emmys. Her consolation prize —  bids for Best Main Title Theme and Best Music and Lyrics for the show. She competed again in the latter category in 2017 as well. And prior to “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” she earned an Emmy bid for Best Short-Form Animated Program for “Robot Chicken” (2015).

While it’s difficult for someone to break through for the first time at the Emmys after multiple seasons, it’s not impossible. Just ask Laurie Metcalf, who surprised everyone by popping up in Best Comedy Actress for the third and final season of “Getting On” in 2016. The same was true for Jane Fonda, who after three seasons on “Grace and Frankie” finally joined her co-star Lily Tomlin in Best Comedy Actress in 2017.

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Emmy queen Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”) is absent due to her show’s hiatus after she dominated this category for six years in a row (2012-2017). Bloom still faces stiff competition from six past nominees hoping to contend again: Fonda, Tomlin, Pamela Adlon (“Better Things”), Allison Janney (“Mom”), Ellie Kemper (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), and Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”).

There’s also a horde of newcomers, including Golden Globe winner Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Globe and SAG Award nominee Alison Brie (“GLOW”), and previous category champ Debra Messing, returning with the revival of “Will & Grace.” But even though Bloom is an underdog with odds of 100/1, it would be crazy not to consider her for her work this season.

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