After 51 episodes, spread over 4 seasons, shared over 4 years, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has come to an end. The Netflix exclusive comedy series had some serious pedigree, as well as show creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock we had an impressive writing team who had credits on Friends, SNL, 30 Rock amongst much more, so expectation were sky high. So how was it and is it worth a binge watch?
The story revolves around Kimmy Schmidt and four other women, who are kept in an underground bunker for 15 years by a charismatic doomsday cult leader. Finally freed by the feds the 'Indiana Mole Women' adapt to life in the real world. Kimmy, who was only 14 when she was kidnapped, decides to go to New York and make it there, all whilst trying to keep her past traumas a secret. Over the course of the seasons she meets the self-centred but effervescent wannabe-actor Titus Andromodon, and a tough as old boots, from the streets landlady, Lillian Kaushtupper. The series revolves around the relationships and social dynamics between this odd family, whilst centring on Kimmy adapting to the tough world whilst remaining true to herself.
This sounds really bleak, like something you'd see on Dispatches, Panorama or something similarly po-faced with a gritty grey filter on Channel 4, but it is in the fact one of the funniest, warmest shows ever written with some of the best one liners and characterisations you'll ever see.
I love the enthusiasm of the ensemble cast, Ellie Kempers portrayal of Kimmy, a woman suffering from PTSD, is wonderfully offbeat and nuanced, she has a lot of naivete but has a wide eyed optimism that only really exists in children, before the world crushes it. Titus Andromodon, played wonderfully by Tituss Burgess, could come off as a one note flamboyant gay stereotype but through flashbacks we see his journey and start to understand his selfish behaviour. We see him as a flawed but likeable character who develops empathy and grows through the seasons. Lillian Kaushtupper, the formidable landlady given such a strong personality and Bostonian accent, is played by Carol Kane. Her dalliance with murder, arson, drug running and the free love movement of the 70s gives her a unique perspective on what is happening in her neighbourhood. Divorcee Socialite Jacqueline White, played by Jane Krakowski, is given the biggest character arc. She turns from a money grabbing rich socialite to a Lacota Sioux woman who is proud of her heritage and builds up her own career as a talent agent. She has some of the best one liners in the show and her comedic timing is formidable.
We are living in the darkest timeline and things can seem impossibly bad but through perseverance, optimism and a little humanity we can achieve and live our best life; this is what The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt shows us. Even though Kimmy is strange, damaged and flawed she's human; she keeps of trying and sees the best in all situations. Like Jessica Day from New Girl, Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation or Eleanor Shelstrop from The Good Place, she's trying to develop and be a better person and that's all any one of us can hope to do.
Through this oddball cast, we've been given characters we can get behind, like the cast of Brooklyn 99, Community or even Bob's Burgers. The show isn't all just fluffy stuff, it covers the #MeToo movement, PTSD, social media and the issue with privacy and toxic masculinity. It promotes tolerance, equality and respect, all whilst delivering killer lines and an engaging story arc that keeps you invested.
If you are looking for a show with heart, characters you can root for, a stunning minute to joke ratio and a story arc that matters check out The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, one of the smartest dumb shows available.