This entire weekend has been all about Kimmy. Who is Kimmy? She is unbreakable, as the show will constantly remind. But more than that, she is the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Tina Fey’s newest show, and it deserves all of your attention. Netflix is quickly becoming the savior television needs. This is plainly apparent, especially since it was the only “network” to pick up this show. Without it, we wouldn’t have the uplifting story of the Indiana mole women.
Any fan of 30 Rock will easily fall in love with this show. In fact, most people who love situation comedies will easily be taken with it because it is one of the best new comedies in the past year or two. Done in a very similar style to 30 Rock with the gags and cutaways, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt even takes many of its musical cues and scoring from it. Few people might consider this lazy, but all the rest of us can appreciate these aspects for what they really are: an artistic signature. It’s like a warm hug greeting you after a cold winter of disappointing comedies. Except this winter has lasted for years.
The hardest thing about comedy writing, especially comedy involving running gags, is to make sure it feels fresh and that you end the gag before it grows stale. As we remember from 30 Rock, that is one thing the writers excelled at. The writing duo of Robert Carlock and Tina Fey show us that lightning can, and does, strike more than once. They immediately spark our interest by introducing a very dark premise and turning it into a powerful tale of survival and perseverance. Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) was in 8th grade when she was abducted and locked in a bunker with three other women as part of an apocalypse cult. She had not had the chance to even get to know the world she was part of before she was abducted, so returning to the world after 15 years will take some getting used to. With the help of her fabulously gay, vocally pleasant roommate Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), and a tawdry, yet kind-hearted landlord Lillian (Carol Kane), she must reintegrate into a society that she barely recognizes. Part of that means getting a job, and nothing can prepare you more for living in New York than being the assistant to a self-obsessed 1%-er like Jacqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski).
This entire premise not only helps to set up jokes that map just how much has changed in 15 years (politically, socially and technologically), but also to satirize society and the shifting of values, Liz Lemon style. We grew up experiencing the evolution of society, so we never really noticed the stark differences 15 years can make, and half the fun is seeing Kimmy experience (and comment on) these changes. The other half of the fun is having the secondary characters like Titus and Jacqueline fleshed out and given back stories, especially since their lives were irrevocably affected by the adamantine optimism of Kimmy. Even with some fun cameos by Martin Short, Jon Hamm, and Tina Fey herself, Kemper is the star of the show. More than that, she is the unshakable foundation that makes this comedy so contagious and affecting.
With the writing and supporting cast on point, this show would still be nothing without it’s amazing lead: Ellie Kemper. This is not our first time experiencing her chipper disposition or comedy based on her naivete, but it is those exact prior experiences that make her shine as the unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Even without uttering a single syllable, her smile alone embodies the innocence and optimism that we witness infects everyone she encounters. Meanwhile, her iron will, charm, and ingenuity make us (usually) admire her, rather than pity her and her current situation/sordid past. The entire show is a comment on the difficulty of keeping your virtues and positivism in a city so treacherous, that you get treated better as a man dressed as a werewolf than an actual black man. That’s right, they not only talk about gender equality, but also briefly talk about racial equality. What’s not to love?
Final Thoughts: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is bold, bizarre, and magical. Easily the most palatable comedy in the last few years. The comedy writing styles of Robert Carlock and Tina Fey shine just as bright, if not brighter, than they did in 30 Rock. Backed by great writers and a talented supporting cast, Ellie Kemper is set up to shine to the point where she may go supernova at any second. The show is such an easy and enjoyable watch, that it will be impossible for you not to binge watch it more than once. Luckily, there will be a season two, and this time they won’t have any network limitations NBC might have placed on them. I can only imagine what Carlock and Fey will do with their new found network freedom on Netflix. They’ll probably take a page or two out of Kimmy Schmidt’s life and do something even more spectacular for season 2.
RATING: ★★★★★★★★★(9/10 stars)