TV Binge: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
By Sarah Wolff
The success of Netflix’s newest addition to their portfolio of hugely hyped shows comes as a bit of a surprise, after they bargained it from US channel NBC, where Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt wasn’t deemed a promising candidate in the run for viewing figures. Then again the names behind the sitcom should have been reason enough to believe in it. Created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, who previously worked together on 30 Rock, Kimmy comes with a substantial amount of VIP backing (and an unbelievably catchy theme tune!).
Abducted by a narcissist priest under the pretence of the emerging apocalypse, Kimmy and her three fellow ‘mole-women’ spent 15 years in an atomic bunker. Naturally, their final rise onto the surface of the earth is accompanied by extensive media coverage which leads the disturbed women out of rural Inidiana. New York tastes like freedom and Kimmy (played by Ellie Kemper) decides to take her fate to the Big Apple permanently. Equipped with the cultural knowledge of a 15-year old from 1998 and an unbreakable spirit, she sets off on a journey towards a regular life. She soon moves in with Titus Andromedon, a failed Broadway singer who is trying to find his place in the world by assuming the guise of a werewolf or taking lessons in lad-culture to conceal his minority statuses. Other recurring characters include Kimmy’s rich but refreshingly likeable boss Jacqueline, Jacqueline’s spoilt teenage daughter Xanthippe and rich, wannabe-British ‘Daddy’s-boy’ and love interest, Logan.
Kimmy’s enchanting quirkiness is conveyed visually through brave colour choices throughout her wardrobe and aurally through her constant inventiveness, expressed through all sorts of fun neologisms replacing the standard swear word (yes, the only swearing is in the title sequence).
Comparisons to shows like New Girl are warrantable as both series share their en vogue weirdness that makes their characters so amiably annoying. This being said, when New Girl falls victim to its own tendency of getting stuck in the cutesy corner of boy-meets-girl dramatics, Kimmy Schmidt takes it that one step further and ultimately delivers a notably higher level of punch with its lines. The main difference between the two programmes is exactly the importance they assign to the romance aspect of the plot: while New Girl revolves around the on/off relationship of Jess and Nick, Kimmy is more concerned with living. When romance does play a part it remains the subplot to some bigger issue Kimmy has to deal with—finding a job, turning 30 or getting accustomed to the phenomenon that is electronic music. Hence Kimmy isn’t just the cutesy weirdo trying to solve her problems by expressing them in song, she actually gets things done. This leads back to the hint in the theme tune (which I’d really like to give Tina Fey credit for): Females are strong as hell.
The refreshing Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt takes all the familiar stereotypes to a new level by portraying its characters as fully aware of living their cliché, which isn’t only funny but also makes the show a lot cleverer than most of its contestants, regardless of its silliness. Sadly, TV doesn’t seem to assume its audience to be capable of relating to something of quality without the usual taste of schmaltz. Have some faith, damn it!