TV Review: “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”- Hilarious

Written by Michelle Young March 22, 2015

unbreakable kimmy schmidt

On the surface, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” looks like another rendition of the tired ‘single woman trying to make it in the big city’ trope that’s been used so often in the past. But this Netfilx original, which premiered on March 6, proves itself to be so much more. Behind the bubble-gum coloursand plucky string music there lies an utterly original story, packed to the brim with brilliantly crafted jokes and innovative characters.

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is the latest project from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, the creative minds behind “30 Rock”. The show follows the journey of titular character Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper), as she transitions back into modern society after being held captive in a bunker for 15 years by cult leader Rev. Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm). Kimmy decides to leave behind her identity as an “Indiana Mole Woman” and moves to New York City in the hopes of starting fresh. There she meets the exquisite Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), Kimmy’s gay roommate and aspiring Broadway actor; Lillian Kaushtupper (Carol Kane), Kimmy and Titus’ eccentric landlady; and Jacqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski), Kimmy’s boss and desperate Manhattan mother who can be best described as a postmodern Jenna Maroney.

“We’re different. We’re the strong ones, and you can’t break us.”

The show’s main success is in the portrayal of its characters. At first glance, it might seem like most of the characters fit neatly into old stereotypes (ie. the flamboyant gay best friend, the innocent young ingénue, etc.), but through smart writing, the characters are actually able to confront, and break down, the stereotypes they showcase. Kimmy’s naiveté is also her weapon, using her position on the outside to reveal the absurdities of modern society and question other people’s troublesome behaviour.

unbreakable kimmy schmidt

The smart writing of the characters is only aided by great performances. Ellie Kemper delivers a fantastically earnest performance as Kimmy, allowing her to be quirky and weird while still remaining likeable and relatable. It’s not hard to root for her. Tituss Burgess also impresses as Titus, giving episode after episode of quotable lines. His original ode to black penis titled “Pinot Noire” is one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time. The only performances that ever fall flat are the children, Buckely and Xanthippe Voorhees, played by Tanner Flood and Dylan Gelula. The show also manages to score some great guest stars to round out each episode. Some standouts include Jon Hamm, Martin Short, Nick Kroll, Dean Norris, and Tina Fey.

“But I survived, ’cause that’s what women do.”

Another great aspect of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is the jokes, which skilfully weave in cultural allusions, societal critiques, and self-referential humour. Most of the jokes usually consist of Kimmy attempting to use outdated slang or misunderstanding current cultural trends, but they don’t ever feel too forced or tired. From Kimmy’s brilliant retort to being catcalled by a construction worker to Jacqueline’s refusal to be governed by a male voiced GPS system, there are so many clever jokes that satisfy the feminist in all of us. The only time a joke ever seems to fail is when it’s either overly convoluted, requiring too much set-up, or the actor’s delivery is slightly off. However, any faults are made up for by the fact that the episodes are completely filled with jokes, so any bad ones are soon forgotten as they move on to the next laugh.

unbreakable kimmy schmidt

So, just like Kimmy and the other “Indiana Mole Women”, the brilliance of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” lies just beneath the surface. It’s a show that definitely needs to be re-watched in order to fully appreciate just how good it is, but that’s fine because the more and more you watch it, the funnier and funnier it becomes. Its watch-ability is truly a testament to the great writing and terrific acting. It’s not hard to see why Netflix already picked up this wonderfully weird series for two more seasons.

My Rating: 8.5/10

unbreakable kimmy schmidt

 

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