Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

by Kelsey Barritt, Writing Intern

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a new Netflix original comedy, offers a very original concept, to say the least. Produced by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock and starring Ellie Kemper, the show chronicles the New York life of a hopelessly naïve woman who has literally lived under a rock.

As a child, an insane preacher kidnapped Kimmy (Kemper). Under his power, he convinced Kimmy, along with three other women, that the apocalypse occurred and they were the last five people on earth. After being under this crazy man’s spell, and kept in a small bunker for fifteen years, the hatch opens. A SWAT team member’s hand comes through the light, saving Kimmy and her cage-sisters.

After being freed, Kimmy and her co-victims do what every trauma survivor does--an interview on the Today Show. Together, they talk about future plans, one victim gets an ambush makeover, the cameras go off, and Matt Lauer pushes them out the door.

For some reason, Kimmy, who never seemed to lose her wide-eyed optimism in her 15-year prison, sees an opportunity. She could either go back to her hometown of Indiana, or have a completely fresh start, right there in New York City. What she doesn't realize is that this new world she is entering is just as bizarre and dangerous as the one she left behind. With a 1990’s frame of thinking, and an eighth grade education, Kimmy dives head first into a world of selfies, hashtags, and “phones with clocks on them.” She offers blasts from the past by saying things like “later gator” and “As if!”

Kimmy quickly finds a home and a job, which could not be more opposite. She moves in with an eccentric, hopeful actor in a run down neighborhood. But to Kimmy, this feels like a mansion. Her excitability over things like a sliding door and a window is both endearing and corky. Her roommate, Titus (Tituss Burgess) seems like a big reality shock at first, but ends up being a beautiful transition tool. Titus allows his pessimism to outweigh his love for performing until Kimmy relights his flame. Once Titus begins to follow his dream again, viewers see that he is much like Kimmy; he has big dreams with little opportunity.

Her job, on the other hand, shocks Kimmy in a much different way. A nanny for the filthy-rich Voorhes family, she does things like massage the dog and force the mom, Jaqueline (Jane Krakowski), to eat a peanut M&M. If there is one thing more peculiar than the simplicity of an underground bunker, it is the extravagance in which Jaqueline and her children live. Jane Krakowski plays a similar personality to her 30 Rock character—well-meaning but clueless. The sheer humor of her “struggles” becomes even more laughable from Kimmy’s point of view.

Often, these colorful characters seem unrealistic, but Fey and Carlock clearly do not worry about this show being relatable. For the most part, viewers watch Kimmy’s bumpy, heart-warming transition and laugh at some of the more outrageous bumps. Kimmy offers several words of wisdom that only someone kidnapped for 15 years could understand. Kemper plays this role believably, and wins viewers’ hearts by making them laugh at their own so-called problems. If Kimmy can smile constantly, the rest of the world should have no problems.

Overall, this Netflix series offers a fun, silly sitcom with an absolutely insane plot. If anything, the background story adds richness to the comedy, including absurd flashbacks. Viewers get to observe an incredibly unique point of view. They see genuine friendships form, and learn the ins and outs of the world all over again. Kimmy Schmidt charms viewers and has them pressing “next episode” until the sun goes down or comes back up.


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