Rachel Bloom Makes A Great Point About Diversity
I was already excited enough about all the attention getting thrown the way of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend after the Golden Globes, but, now that I've heard co-creator and star Rachel Bloom's thoughts on diversity, I'm about to start a standing ovation for her. Bloom won the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series (Musical or Comedy) on Jan. 10, after just one season of her ballsy, ground-breaking musical comedy series, which is a huge accomplishment, and many people in Bloom's same position would take those accolades and scurry off somewhere to enjoy them solo. Like me when I come upon the last bagel in the kitchen. Or candy. Or cake. "I found it, it's mine, why would I share it with anyone else?" (I'm a monster.)
But, luckily, Bloom isn't, and she's done the equivalent of breaking up her tiara (or bagel, if you liked my metaphor) into a bunch of little pieces and throwing it into the crowd a la Mean Girls with her post-ceremony comments in the Globes press room about championing racial diversity:
I have learned so much about Filipino culture. What’s insane is we are not Fresh Off The Boat about specifically being Filipino. One of our characters happened to be Filipino, so when we realized that no one had made the effort to show a Filipino family on an American comedy, it is talking a lot about Filipino culture, mabuhay, but it has also taught me really about how important diversity is if you want to tell a new story.
Let's pause for a second to acknowledge how huge it is that Bloom made a show that's diverse without being about diversity. It's kind of a subtle difference, but it's a biggie — instead of being a show about Bloom's character Rebecca Bunch, who dated a Filipino guy, it's about Rebecca Bunch's complicated relationship with her ex-boyfriend Josh Chan, played by Vincent Rodriguez III, who just happens to be Filipino. Instead of throwing in a token person of color just to move the white protagonist's storyline along, which is a pitfall that many shows stumble into, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend treats Josh like any other character (which he is!!) giving him backstory, fleshing out his personality, and introducing us to his family, without ever pausing to pat themselves on the back.
I love it, and according to Bloom's speech, we're going to see more of it in the future, as she continued:
Anything else I do from now... I would want to make it about people who are diverse, gay, trans, because those are stories that have not been told before, and America is a melting pot of immigrants, and I don’t think it is acknowledged half as much as it is on television.
That's honestly the best explanation for diverse casting choices I've ever heard — our show looks and feels this way because America looks and feels this way. Not because we're getting pressure from the network, or angry letters from fans, or feeling guilty for portraying such a limited perspective. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's perspective has been both broad and inclusive, and portrayed a varied range of experiences from the jump, and I can't wait to see where they take things from here.