The second season of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is underway and the series — which racked up a Golden Globe, two Emmys and a Critic’s Choice Award for its first year — has impressively returned even better than before. With a new theme song, and picking up from the exact moment where Season 1 ended, the self-aware, genre-bending musical comedy is funnier and more nuanced than ever: Taking on a scope beyond the love triangle of Rebecca (Rachel Bloom), Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III) and Greg (Santino Fontana), the show explores everyone’s underlying emotional issues while remaining quick-witted and wonderfully musical.
Earning one of the show’s well-deserved Emmys was choreographer, Kathryn Burns. Screener got a chance to speak with Burns while she was location scouting for the final few episodes of Season 2, and we got to ask her about all the upcoming quirky music videos we have to look forward to this season. We also wanted to know how she got the plum gig in the first place, which cast member has the hardest time picking up the dance moves and just how much time and work go into each music video.
How did that come about, getting this job?
Kathryn Burns: Well, I know Rachel Bloom from [Upright Citizens Brigade] shows. She was a part of my Quick and Funny Musical Company. I had also worked with her on a Funny or Die music video that I choreographed and was in her live musical reading at UCB.
Originally, when it was a Showtime pilot, Marc Webb directed and Michael Rooney choreographed. Way later, when it moved to the CW, there was a lot of readjusting, mostly budgetary. They hired the DP of “Key and Peele,” and after his interview, he was like, “Expect a phone call, because I basically talked about you the whole time.”
I worked on “Key and Peele” all five seasons, every time there was a musical moment or choreography. So sure enough, I went into the meeting and it was cool because Rachel and I knew each other in a comedy context, but she didn’t know about all my other stuff.
What’s the process like, choreographing for this show?
It’s most definitely collaborative. Luckily I’m a part of all the meetings since it’s a musical show — I get to be there every week. A lot of times, the dance concept can get side-barred, because they need to make the music first. Our music composers are really great. They come up with the concept, tone and genre. Then we get inside Rachel’s head, talk about it and I’m off to do my thing.
Then we do a “Show & Tell.” Well, I call it Show & Tell to make it less intimidating. I basically show everybody — the EPs, writers and producers — what I’ve choreographed. So there’re notes, like “Change it all!” or “No, it’s great!” and then things can change, or will change, once we’re on set.
How long does it take to complete one routine?
It depends. Typically, we have half a day. We have a seven-day shoot for an hour-long show and two music videos, so it’s pretty tight.
How long did it take to film ‘Love Kernels’?
There’s a lyric where it says “this music video eats up our production budget” — we shot at a bunch of different locations. And for some reason, we had nine days to shoot that one episode, so that was a little different. But there’s another one, “We Definitely Shouldn’t Have Sex Right Now,” and that was half a day. Six hours. And then of course, with this first episode, part of the reason we had nine days [was that] we had to shoot the new theme song, which was shot in a day. So, we had 12 hours to shoot that.
Tell us about the new theme song… was that always planned?
You’re selling the saga, right? The first one obviously, was she quit her job in New York and followed her ex-boyfriend. Well, now she’s crazy in love — “you can’t call her crazy, she’s just a girl in love.” That was always their [Rachel and Aline’s] intention, to keep it changing. Just like life.
Who struggles the most picking up the choreography?
He’s our dance captain, but he got nervous — Pete [Gardner], bless his heart, this is the first time he has sang or danced for camera. Last season, for “California Christmas,” all the leads danced. I made a video of the choreography, with eight counts, very slowly. And his sweet wife Susie broke it down to four-second segments, so he could watch it over and over again.
You have an awesome co-starring role in the premiere! How did that come about?
Well, Rachel and I performed together on stage, so that’s how that came about. And it’s so meta to have the choreographer play the dancer… It’s like, does this exist? And she’s like no — it’s in my head. That’s our music video premise.
What music videos are you most excited for audiences to see this season?
There’s a really amazing Marilyn Monroe moment [Rebecca does “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” and we can confirm that it is amazing]. There’s a lot of silly dancing, which is super fun but was strangely harder! Not harder to film, but hard to figure out… There are two forms, classical dance styles, that we flip on its head and make really dirty and weird.
Do you still dance?
I do. When I can, I dance at Ryan Heffington’s studio, The Sweat Spot in Silverlake. I’m in one of his music videos this year. And I’m performing with the cast of “Red Hot American Summer.” I choreographed “The First Day of Camp,” and we’re doing the songs and performing at Festival Supreme on Oct. 29. One of the dancers couldn’t do it, so since it’s choreographed and it’s live, I am going to dance and perform with them. I also perform at UCB on the last Tuesday of every month.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
Squeeze in other work? Because I’m a lunatic? [laughing]. Seriously. Or I drink red wine with my friends and nap with my cat, like a proper crazy cat lady. I have been spotted at Gelson’s buying chocolate, red wine and cat litter. And I’m not ashamed of it.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Thank you. Thank you!
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” airs Friday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.