Before she was cowriting the musical comedy show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Aline Brosh McKenna had already cut her teeth working on some big movie hits (she’s one of the creative geniuses responsible for The Devil Wears Prada and 27 Dresses). But after discovering comedian Rachel Bloom on YouTube, McKenna made the jump from big to small screen. Bloom, who she describes as her “work wife-sister-daughter-friend,” now stars and cowrites the show with McKenna. Bloom earned a Golden Globe in 2016 for her performance on the show.
Motto talked with McKenna about the power of finding your creative soul mate and what the partnership with Bloom has done for both of their careers.
Motto: How did you and Bloom come together to start making Crazy Ex-Girlfriend?
McKenna: It all started because I was writing movies and I saw Rachel’s work. I just wanted to meet her and see if I could help. … I had been toying with the “crazy ex-girlfriend” idea for a long time, and as we were talking, it just struck me that the part suited her really well—her characters have this manic intensity. … We hit it off right away. We talked about [the show] for months and months before we even pitched it.
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What is it like working with Bloom?
I believe that you can find soul mates anywhere, at any age. I’ve had writing partners, producers and a number of really close collaborations—but not one like this. We ended up writing 900 pages of material for the show. It’s productive and intense. …We have developed twin speak—we’re basically like tree elves gibbering in our own language. No one makes me laugh harder. I basically ran away with a younger lady!
How have your different experiences influenced your work together?
We are exactly 20 years apart. We have different creative backgrounds and don’t take similar approaches to things. I’m from a long-form writing, big-picture background, and she’s from more short-form stuff. You can see that in the show. It’s fun to be able to draw from two different generations of background. It’s “our” voice and a pretty distinct meshing of storytelling. A lot of the humor comes from her, and that’s a side I had never expressed before.
Do you think it’s important for older women to mentor younger women?
Mentoring sounds like a thing you do to be a nice person, but the truth is, I have found joy and pleasure in working with people older than me and younger than me. One of the great things in life is finding people you can collaborate with. I spend so much solitary time writing screenplays that it’s great getting out there and working with other people. I don’t think of [mentoring] as a public service. We got a TV show out of it, so that’s been pretty good!
This interview has been edited and condensed.