My ideal spring break originally revolved around spending time on the beach, hanging by the pool and pretending Sakai never existed, but then the release of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” proved to be a pleasant surprise and encouraged me to binge-watch in between activities.
Kimmy Schmidt, played by Ellie Kemper (from “The Office” and “Bridesmaids”), offers us an innocent comedy with not only a female lead whose story doesn’t revolve around finding love, but a plot line that is defined by quirky-yet-believable friendships and producer Tina Fey’s biting satire that challenges social norms.
Does the show still have problems to work out? Yes. However, I think this show is moving television in the right direction.
What it’s about:
The show’s focus is on the recently freed Kimmy, who at 14 was taken by a preacher leading an apocalypse cult and spent 15 years locked in an underground bunker. The show starts with a SWAT team breaking into the bunker and freeing the four captives, who had been convinced the world ended in 2006.
The series follows Schmidt’s misadventures after she chooses to move to New York and tries to start a life for herself, despite being behind on the times and moderately traumatized. You can frequently catch Schmidt running with a Walkman, wearing light-up sneakers and trying to figure out what current popular culture is.
Tituss Burgess plays Kimmy’s roommate, Titus Andromedon, an actor who is trying to get back into musical theater. I love Titus for several reasons, but mainly because he is hilarious; he is always there to provide a snarky quip or satirical insight on the struggles of being both black and gay in the city. Plus, he isn’t a static character, but evolves alongside Kimmy.
A golden line from Titus: “She quit, wound up walking the streets selling drugs. She’s a pharmaceutical rep. … I phrased that so badly.”
Lillian (Carol Kane), the blonde, frail, raspy-voiced landlord, is a weird-yet-funny addition to the cast, often serving as an enabler of bad ideas.
A golden line from Lillian: “One day you’ll wake up and say, ‘Who’s that old woman in the mirror?’ And she’ll punch you. And you’ll say, ‘That’s not a mirror, that’s an open window.'”
Then there’s Kimmy’s neurotic boss, Jacqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski), a trophy wife with a billionaire husband who has been absent on a “business trip” for months.
In the first episode, Jacqueline hires Kimmy as a nanny, which leads to entirely unlikely, albeit funny, conflicts. When she isn’t getting plastic surgery on her feet or chanting, “I’m not really here,” as a way to avoid her problems, Jacqueline is learning how to come into her own alongside Kimmy.
A golden line from Jacqueline: “I need to send your information to Buckley’s elementary school. He keeps getting marked down as abducted when you pick him up.”
Season’s best moments:
Kimmy’s attempts at comebacks, outdated pop-culture references and misunderstanding trends make for a large portion of the quips throughout the show. Whether she is saying, “Hashbrown no filter,” or is confused because she didn’t feel anyone Googling her, Kimmy’s confusion makes for great comedy.
They said what? (The underlying race problem of Kimmy Schmidt)
The problem with the show is that it borders on being racist at times, and fans are beginning to speak out. Fey attempts to highlight the unfair advantages in white privilege and points out different stereotypes society uses, but at times the show definitely walks the line of being inappropriate.
For example, Kimmy’s friend and tutor from school, Dong, is an illegal immigrant from Vietnam. At times he seems like he is fitting a stereotyped role, and the jokes about his name are immature at best. However, Fey uses this to flip the stereotype that white women don’t like Asian men.
Jacqueline comes from a Native American family, and the flashbacks to her childhood are really confusing. My first question is, what is this plot line doing for the the show? My second question is, why are there so many Native American stereotypes? I think and hope that the absurdity of these scenes is to point out the absurdity of stereotypes in the first place.
The show may be bordering on racism, but I am hopeful that the audience’s feedback will point writers in the right direction. Overall, the show is inspiring, humorous and full of hope.
Senior English and economics double major Jeremy Verke feels the show has a meaningful message to viewers.
“‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ is hilarious and clever [and] a friendly reminder that people aren’t made of stuff that shatters under pressure,” he said.