The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Season 1
Available on DVD or Netflix online library.
A while ago at a party I was playing “Who Would Play Me in a TV Series: The I Just Met You Edition” with some new acquaintances as a sort of get to know you exercise. Now I have always fancied myself a less caricatured, less Hollywood Jessica Day [Zooey Deschanel in New Girl] with my bangs and my limitless optimistic enthusiasm so when “John Krasinski” – it was that kind of crowd – made the call that I was “clearly an Ellie Kemper”, “I was like, ‘really’?”.
I mean sure, as “The Other Kelly” in The Office, she flies her adorkable flag with Andy, but while I had always seen myself as more of the Nice Girl with a bit of weird, not to mention being exceeeedingly brunette in all understandings of the word, Ellie Kemper always struck me as playing the slightly unstable, definitely fiery-in-the-good-way, but crazy, ginger lady characters.
That was until I caught up and fell in love with The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
From creators who between them have credits on 30 Rock, Friends, Mean Girls and of course, Saturday Night Live – Tina Fey and Robert Carlock – comes a show whose basis is so dark, we’ve burst right through the other side where everything is technicolour and we have to laugh because if we think too much about what happened, it’s really super creepy.
Kimmy Schmidt is one of the “Indiana Mole Women”, a group of ladies kidnapped by the leader of a doomsday cult and held in an underground bunker for fifteen years where, yes, “weird sex stuff happened”. Determined to escape the stigma of victimisation, and equipped with only her unbreakable enthusiasm, a ninth grade education, her Baby-Sitters Club Murder Mystery and her $13,000 Mole Woman Fund, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt follows her adjustment to adventures in the real world.
And it’s Fey/Carlock exactly as we know and love. From a theme song created by Songify the News‘ Gregory Brothers, a tribute to songified viral videos, to challenging the media on their manipulation of “victims” for ratings and press, S01E01 Kimmy Goes Outside! sets Kimmy up as a hard-hitting reference-comedy piece exactly as we would expect from the alumni of Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock.
Enter Ellie Kemper as Kimmy
After a history of cameos as the naive, quirky girl (The Office, Bridesmaids), the psycho redhead (The Mindy Project) and comedy roles in internet shorts and late night television, Ellie Kemper has finally landed a lead role and it’s great to see that it’s one with a little bit of depth: an underlying horror story.
What doesn’t kill us, can only make us stronger, and in the case of Kimmy, her experiences in an apocalypse cult, sex dungeon has only worked to make her Unbreakable. Through the use of positive reinforcement techniques and pure willpower, Kimmy remains upbeat and positive despite dealing with her demons realistically and in a not entirely sane, way. We still don’t know why Kimmy is afraid of velcro.
Protect me? From what? The worst thing that will ever happen to me happened in my own front yard. Life beats you up, Titus. You can either curl up in a ball and die, like we thought Cyndee did that time, or you can stand up and say “we’re different. We’re the strong ones and you can’t break us!”
In the end, Jess Day is a lot like Kimmy Schmidt, in an albeit more realistic and relatable way, both are optimistic, enthusiastic and a little bit naive, but while New Girl is a show about friends and quirky adventures, Kimmy Schmidt is a show about accepting the worst and being your best anyway. And friends and quirky adventures.