Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has always been lauded for its smart and nuanced portrayal of mental illness, and this season they're taking things a step further. When the Golden Globe-winning musical returns for Season 3, Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) will receive an official diagnosis that will help explain some of her mental health struggles.
"We're really going to explore that in a very, very specific way. It's something we've done a ton of research on," showrunner Aline Brosh McKenna tells TV Guide. "And that's something where, even though Rachel and I came from different backgrounds, that was something that we had in common, which was just a desire to just get the specificity right, so we always try very hard to delve into the reality of that stuff."
In order to ensure they were handling such an important moment for Rebecca responsibly, Bloom and McKenna approached a therapist with their idea of what they thought Rebecca's diagnosis would be, only to learn there were multiple that might apply.
"We went through the steps [with the therapist] and the more we thought about it, there was one particular diagnosis [that felt right]," Bloom says. "And not to say that everything's cut and dry. Almost every diagnosis has shades of other diagnoses... But we realized that we, in writing a character based on the most extreme versions of ourselves and also based on other people we just met, we inadvertently fell into this certain diagnosis. So that was very interesting."
Of course, getting a diagnosis is only the next step in Rebecca's mental health journey and not necessarily the solution.
"We were fixated on the diagnosis, but what the therapist said is, you know, therapists care about diagnosis, but what they really care about is treatment," the actress explains. "What's going to help this person feel good, whether it's the kind of technique that we're going to use in therapy; if they need to go on medication, what kind? So it's not as cut and dry as 'you are your diagnosis. You are the thing.' And I think Rebecca is someone who has defined herself by outside labels her entire life, so I think that giving her a diagnosis is very interesting because that's going to give her an identity, but also mess with her identity."
But before Rebecca begins identifying as her diagnosis, viewers will get to meet Rebecca, the Vengeful Ex, when Season 3 picks up immediately after Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III) jilted her on their wedding day. "So the story she's telling herself now is, 'I'm the scorned woman. He left me at the altar. I'm now going to be his sexy worst nightmare.' And so that's the story we're going [into this season] telling."
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend returns Friday, Oct. 13 at 9/8c on the CW.
(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS, one of the CW's parent companies.)