Mar 19, 2015

[TV] Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 1

The Netflix model of television is proving to be an interesting one that continues to gain support. Instead of the weekly crawl through a story revealed in bits and pieces, we're seeing the value in shows released all at once, and thus indirectly encourage viewers to watch a season in its entirety without leaving the house for a weekend or something like that. It's a strange new world that we live in.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a surprisingly entertaining new sitcom from Netflix that proves that they're beyond just strong drama shows. Sure, Orange is the New Black is positioned as a comedy for some reason, but that show can get rather heavy at times. This show follows the more "traditional" sitcom concept of a half-hour show that's designed to actually laugh out loud as opposed to the sort of comedy that makes you smirk and say "how humorous" right before you chuckle into your handkerchief.

This show may not be the most amazing comedy since sliced bread (yes, I'm not making sense), but it's a pretty good one with a nicely distinct tone that certainly gives it an endearing quality of its own. It should work for most, but I'm sure a good number of folks will still scoff at it being too silly or something.

Synopsis: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is an original Netflix sitcom created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. The show was originally created for NBC but was sold to Netflix instead with a two-season order.

The story focuses on Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper), one of four Indiana women who are locked in an underground bunker as part of Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne's doomsday cult. The begins with their rescue and reintegration with with society and Kimmy deciding to stay in New York rather than return to Indiana and forever be remembered as one of the victims of the cult. However she and her fellows have been locked underground for 15 years and thus the 29 year old Kimmy pretty much has the experience of a teenage girl who didn't get a chance to finish the 8th grade.

She quickly meets Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), who becomes her roommate in New York thanks to the landlady Lilian Kauschtupper (Carol Kane). She also gets a job as a nanny for wealthy Manhattanite Jacqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski), although that household is a whole different sort of crazy as is the case for the extremely wealthy. Thus Kimmy tries to find her way in the world and tries to fit in as best she can despite being this practically out-of-time small town girl from a bunker in Indiana.

Given this is a Tina Fey creation, a lot of the humor seems to rely on 80's and 90's references thanks to Kimmy's displaced nature. She's the sort of girl who cites celebrities like Michael Jackson without realizing they're already dead or being all excited about getting the Rain Man album on cassette since she still owns a Sony Walkman. We've seen this sort of humor time and time again from Fey's writing and they really make the most of it here to much comedic effect.

Ellie Kemper is this rather amazing ray of sunshine at the center of the show and it's hard not to smile at her "unbreakable" optimism. Sure, she's actually a highly traumatized individual who is doing her best to keep a smile on her face despite her rather messed up past, but Kemper accomplishes this on-screen quite well. She's downright adorable in her brightly colored outfits and her light-up Sketchers.

I think the real scene-stealer is Jane Krakowski given how well the character is written. Sure, it's probably unfair to rich people on some level to assume that she's an accurate depiction of things. But despite being a crazy, over the top exaggeration of how the very rich might act, she's a mazing at it. And her ability to remain in character despite the many crazy things she says so matter-of-factly is really what makes her so funny as a character.

And that also defines the sort of humor that we see in characters like Titus and the landlady Lilian. In many ways, a lot of what they do seems totally crazy and couldn't possibly be rational human behavior. But then you give things a second thought and you start to imagine people that you know with similar quirks and eccentricities and then you realize just how "real" everyone may be after all. And that just makes things all the more entertaining.

I really enjoyed this first season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and I've ended up watching pretty much the whole season twice since I had to make Tobie watch it. I recommend the show strongly and I can totally see this show getting even better with a second season. Thus the series gets a good 4 strange outdated catchphrases that Kimmy blurts out, out of a possible 5.

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