Non-Geek TV From The Geek Perspective: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Gabbing Geek What We're Watching

There’s a lot of TV out there, and some of it is hilarious and on Netflix.

I speak of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

unbreakable-kimmy-schmidt

What’s the premise?

A young woman, Kimmy Schmidt, is rescued from a bunker in her hometown of Durnville, Indiana.  She and three other women have been living underground for 15 years with a crazy reverend who told them they were riding out the end of the world.  Kimmy was taken when she was about 14 and her emotional and intellectual growth appears to have been stymied since then.  During a trip to New York City to appear on The Today Show, Kimmy decides to stay in the Big Apple, where her overwhelmingly positive attitude have a positive effect on her new black gay roommate Titus, daffy landlady Lillian, and overprivileged employer Jacqueline.

What’s the appeal?

This show is basically Tina Fey’s follow-up to 30 Rock, and it’s just plain funny.  This is the sort of show where just about every line has a joke in it and a second viewing may be required to catch them all.  And despite Kimmy’s generally sunny nature, this show doesn’t shy away from dark humor either.  Stuff slips out once in a while that suggests just how horrible Kimmy’s life underground was.  For instance, she tried to strangle Titus while both were sleeping, and she woke up another time standing in the shower cleaning a kitchen knife.

Anything stand out?

Many things.  Besides the scripts that, as I said, seem to layer in a joke with every line of dialogue, there’s the casting.  30 Rock veterans Jane Krakowski and Tituss Burgess shine as Jacqueline and Titus, respectively, as does Carol Kane as Lillian.  Ellie Kemper anchors everything as Kimmy, a woman that you could believe still mostly thinks like an 8th grader from 1999.

The humor runs a broad range of word play, slapstick, and even the occasional intellectual stuff.  Titus’s full name is Titus Andromedon, which is a reference to the Shakespeare play Titus Andronicus, which his acting nemesis is named for another Shakespeare play, Coriolanus.  Both plays are rather lesser known tragedies about Roman soldiers.

There’s also a very recognizable actor who shows up at the end of the season as the Reverend.  I won’t say who it is.  But he gives a great comedic performance that looks as if the writers were wondering what sort of goofy stuff they could make him say and do.  And he apparently did all of them.

Any downsides?

Fey herself and actor Jerry Minor play the prosecuting attorneys for the Reverend’s trial, and for some reason, they were riffing on the OJ trial.  I am not sure how relevant that is given how long ago that trial actually was.

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