(Beware, spoilers below!)
It’s been a rocky road to get Tina Fey’s new comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt onto the screen, but on March 6th the 13 episode series finally hit Nexflix, and it’s a glorious treat. The series follows twenty-nine year old Kimmy Schmidt as she’s rescued from a doomsday cult and decides to start a new life in New York. Over the course of the season we’re introduced to her new roommate Titus, her landlady Lillian and her new employer Jacqueline.
We navigate some pretty obvious topics along the way, such as Kimmy getting her first kiss, studying to get her high school diploma and try to come to terms with her past. Titus and Jackie too have their problems, the former is a down on his luck actor who’s still holding onto his dream despite every opportunity seeming to pass him by. The odds against him aren’t improved because he’s getting older, is black and is also gay: categories which the entertainment industry isn’t exactly warm about (there are some fantastic jokes where that’s concerned). Jackie’s the definition of a blonde trophy wife that actually harbours deep insecurities, many of them concerning her American Indian heritage and how the conflicts with what she thinks she wants. If you think that sounds like pretty heavy stuff, you’d be right; but the sharpness of the script doesn’t trivialise these issues, only points them out with greater effect. Did I also mention it has a killer theme tune? Watch the episodes back to back and I guarantee you won’t be able to stop humming it!
The double duo of Ellie Kemper and Tituss Burgess makes both their characters delightful to watch onscreen. There were moments when Burgess’ performance did make me cringe a little, but never made me so uncomfortable that I wanted his character to up and disappear. That’s not the case for some of the supporting roles, however, such as Dong Ngyuen or Logan Beakman – the latter two of Kimmy’s three love interests, who fight and bitch their way into getting her heart until she eventually makes a decision. It says something about the writing of Fey and Carlock that never does Kimmy seem like the damsel in distress: and neither does any of the other females that regularly frequent the show. Sure, they all have their problems (there’s a significant episode featuring fellow cult escapee Cyndee in this regard), but you get the impression they’re not out to have their problems fixed for them in some idyllic manner
The show is also filled with some great guest stars, most significant of which is John Hamm as the cult leader who trapped the women in the first place in a latter season arc that manages to parody American news reporting as well as the hilarity of court. Sometimes the disappearance of characters raises an eyebrow or two, but it doesn’t stop each episode being a tour de force of situations and actual tough issues that gets tackled by Ellie Kemper’s sunny side up lead girl. Everything from the Nineties references to the wonderful Carol Kane (taking over our screens in both this and Gotham) makes this show a treat to watch. The first episode or so many be a little wobbly as it sets up its world a little more, but trust me folks, it gets even better from there.