By Collin Ward, Staff Writer
Females are as strong as hell!
Writer/co-creator Tina Fey has delivered another deeply funny and irreverent comedy in “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” which is now streaming in full on Netflix. Fey co-created the show with her “30 Rock” writing partner Robert Carlock, and anyone who was a fan of the former NBC show will immediately gravitate to the humor and light nuances found in Kimmy Schmidt.
Kimmy, who is played with full on commitment by “The Office” alum Ellie Kemper, a 29 year old living in a doomsday bunker unwillingly with three other members of an apocalypse cult. For 15 years the cult leader, Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, has told his captives that the world has been burned and they are the only living survivors. The captive women are celebrating Christmas when their bunker door is blown open by the FBI, and they are escorted out of the bunker to see that everything is still here, only not as they remembered it.
The “Mole Women” travel to New York City to be interviewed about their lives in the bunker. As the interviews come to an end, all the women are about to return home to their lives, except Kimmy. She is in New York City. She is going to make a new life for herself. Armed with her purple JanSport backpack and positive attitude, Kimmy takes on New York City and the world she has missed out on for the last 15 years.
This show would not work if it wasn’t for Kemper’s 100 percent commitment to the character, and she nails it. Her smile fills up the whole screen, and her obliviousness and wonder towards the modern world can all be read with every single facial expression she gives us.
Fey specifically wrote the part for Kemper and has done a fantastic job creating characters to surround and play off her. Kimmy’s roommate, a down on his luck Barbie collecting Broadway hopeful, Titus Andromedon, played by Tituss Burgess who nails the over the top theatrics of his character. Carol Kane plays their bizarre landlord, with all the craze and humor you would expect from Kane. However it is, Jane Krakowski who steals scene after scene as Kimmy’s employer and trophy wife Jacqueline Voorhees. “30 Rock” watchers will no doubt pick up on the similarities between Krakowski’s Jenna and her character here, and they are more than welcome.
The show, which was passed on by NBC for being, “Too weird” for network TV lands perfectly on Netflix, with a catchy as hell theme song and episodes stock full of colorful guest stars including, Martin Short, Jon Hamm, Tim Blake Nelson, Dean Norris, Horatio Sanz, Amy Sedaris, Nick Kroll, and Fey herself.
With a running time of about 24 minutes per episode and 13 episodes this season, accidentally watching “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” in full in one weekend can be easily done (much like this writer here).
Where Kimmy Schmidt will go from here is half of the excitement. The first season was written to air on network television so time constraints and uses of profanity were all a factor this season. Season two has already been announced by Netflix, and the question of whether or not Fey and Carlock will crank the weirdness up another level and extend the running time have yet to be answered. The direction of this show is so very promising.
At its heart “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is about overcoming your fears, love and acceptance, and being yourself no matter how weird or different you may be.
There is a beautiful line of dialogue in the first episode where Kimmy says to Titus, “The worst thing that has ever happened to me, happened in my front yard. Life beats you up. You can either curl up in a ball and die or you can stand up, and say ‘We’re different and you can’t break us’.”
When Fey was a young kid, a man came up to her while she was in her front yard and slit her face with a knife for no reason. Like Kimmy, Fey could have curled up in a ball and hid herself and her scar, but thankfully for us she hasn’t and has delivered one of the best comedies in the past decade.
Females are strong as hell!