Showrunners: Tina Fey & Robert Carlock
Starring: Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Jane Krakowski, Carol Kane, Tina Fey
Tina Fey is back with yet another terrific sitcom. After Mean Girls, 30 Rock and her work on Saturday Night Live comes her latest project, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which carries on her fine and hilarious form.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt tells the torrid, yet uplifting tale of Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper), who is trying to feel her way back into modern society after having been rescued from a cult in Indiana, where she was being held by a slightly barmy man, who calls himself the Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne. Not wanting to be seen as a ‘victim’ of said cult, and also wanting to distance herself from what are now known as the ‘mole women’, Kimmy decides to start afresh by moving to New York City – the big apple.
She finds a place to live (which is basically a cupboard), befriends her nice, if a bit odd, landlady Lillian Kaushtupper (Carol Kane) and her new flatmate, struggling actor Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess). She even manages to secure a job, be it as a nanny for one of the most dysfunctional and ridiculously rich families in New York. Kimmy has to learn to survive in this new and unfamiliar world, but with the help of her friends and an almost unnerving ‘can-do’ attitude she’ll do everything within her power to remain unbroken.
If it rhymes, then it’s fines…
All the best sitcoms have fantastically funny characters, this is no different. Kimmy herself is brilliantly portrayed by the wonderful Ellie Kemper; she is always full of energy, has a big bright smile, and an eternal optimism which is incredibly infectious. Fey wrote the character especially for Kemper and it’s easy to see why; you couldn’t imagine anyone else embodying the infectious spirit of Kimmy.
Yet it’s in the supporting characters where the show demonstrates it’s true brilliance. With the help of a witty script – what else would you expect from a Tina Fey show? – Titus, Lillian and Jane Krakowski’s Jacqueline Voorhees (you’ve got to love the names in this series) really steal the show.
Titus has many of the standout moments, with his quick wit and penchant for musical humour. He sings one of the funniest songs ever to be heard on the small screen – you’ll be rhyming things with ‘Pinot Noire’ long after you’ve finished this season.
Fey’s social commentary is superb and always spot on. This is evident in all of her work, from Mean Girls to 30 Rock, yet it’s very evident in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, mainly due to Kimmy’s unfamiliarity with life in the 21st century. It’s great to see how excited she gets by things that seem unremarkable to us: brightly coloured shoes, mobile phones, and even new types of sweets she’s never tasted.
2090 called. You’re dead and you wasted your time on Earth.
Another vital part of any sitcom is its theme song; Friends had “I’ll Be There For You”, Cheers had “Where Everybody Knows You Name”, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has “Unbreakable” by The Gregory Brothers and Mike Britt, who are famous on YouTube for taking funny interviews and auto-tuning them into catchy songs. They’ve done the same thing here with the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt theme song and created a real earworm.
If this first season has one problem, it’s that it takes a few episodes to really hit its stride. However, once it does, it steams along nicely, delivering a bucket-load of laughs along the way. The show also incorporates a great cameo in the form of Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne. After many years on a successful dramatic show, and spending most of the season as an unseen character, his reveal demonstrates what an incredible comedic talent he is.
It’s unbelievable to think that we almost didn’t get to see Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, as it was originally supposed to air on NBC, but then spent some time in development hell, until it was eventually picked up by Netflix where it’s been a huge hit. It’s been so successful that they’ve just commissioned two more seasons, which is great news. It has that quality that so many other sitcoms lack, that ‘go on, just one more episode’ quality. Once you’ve finished the 13 episodes, you’ll be dying to watch another. More of the same please.