In praise of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

It would have been very easy for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to get lost in the shuffle among the vast array of new American sitcoms that arrive with such unmanageable regularity. With more shows than ever now on offer, even the most avid TV devourer needs to pick and choose their viewings very carefully. All credit to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt however, it has proved increasingly popular since its debut on Netflix in 2015. The first two seasons have received rave reviews pretty much across the board and even garnered several Emmy Award nominations for the show.   So what exactly makes it stand out from the crowd?

Keeping it upbeat

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is perfect feel-good viewing thanks to its relentlessly upbeat and positive tone that is devoid of all cynicism. Its central focus is on its titular characher and her quest to rehabilitate in to normal society after having spent 15 years in a bunker due to an apocalypse cult. Kimmy’s positivity, desire to succeed and determination to make something of her freedom are infectious and it is a joy to watch her make the best of every situation. Much like Leslie Knope in Parks and Rec, she is a ray of sunshine that only wants to make things better for everyone around her.

Tina Fey

The show is created by Robert Carlock and the always excellent, Tina Fey. Fans of the latter’s hit show 30 Rock will find plenty of its DNA in Kimmy, from its blend of incisive wit and adorable silliness, to a firm love of pop culture references. The show’s lack of cynicism does not mean that it is overly sugary or cheesy however. Instead, much like Parks and Rec and The Office (US) the upbeat comedy is perfectly honed and each character is fully rounded and gives you reasons to genuinely care about them as they develop. Fey’s influence is plain to see and it’s refreshing to find such a strong feminist message running through the show too. Kimmy stands on her own two feet and decides to make her dream happen on her own terms.

The Cast

Kimmy herself is a distinctive and instantly likeable central character with Ellie Kemper’s wholesome and innocent demeanour put to great use. It could be argued that on paper, a fish out of water country girl filled with childlike wonder and new to the big city, doesn’t sound like a particularly original character. However the unique twist that she was abducted for 15 years and thus missed out on huge swathes of modern life is a quirk mined to great effect.  Distinctly 21st century phenomenon such as social media and the rise of the Kardashians are therefore able to be cleverly utilised and mocked for their own inherent absurdities.

As well as Kemper’s Kimmy though there is also a great supporting cast including Carol Kane as Lillian, an unhinged landlady who seems to get weirder and weirder as the show goes on, and Jane Krakowski  as Jacqueline, a New York socialite and highly delusional trophy wife. The latter especially is a great foil for Kimmy with her lack of perspective and ability to find strife even in her comfortable and sheltered life standing regularly at odds with our heroine’s positivity.

Titus Andromedon

The show’s true MVP though is the unique comic creation that is Titus Andromedon, played with sass and gusto by Titus Burgess. Titus believes he is destined to be a star and while he isn’t necessarily willing to put in the work to achieve it, he’s more than capable of acting the part in the meantime. Titus is blessed with a lot of the show’s best lines, and he has all but perfected the art of the withering putdown. His finest moment in season one however might just be the musical masterpiece that is “Peeno Noir”, a true anthem for our times.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt finds just the right balance between absurdity and cleverness and is fully committed to its positive message. If you were toying with giving the show a try but have resisted until now, I heartily recommend you do so right way before season 3 arrives in May of this year.

 

(Photo credits : Netflix)