Evan Slead ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant TV Editor
With streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime churning out new content with no weekly wait between episodes, the world of television is surely evolving. Shows like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Derek, and Transparent have already received critical and commercial acclaim for their short lives in the public zeitgeist. Entering in as a new contender, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is the new comedy from comedic powerhouse Tina Fey and longtime Saturday Night Live writer Robert Carlock. The birth of this new series finds itself on Netflix with a 13 episode season to draw viewers into Kimmy’s warped world. However, this comedy proves to be a “where has this show been all of my life” event after just one episode.
The story of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is one that could seem tired; young, independent woman moves to New York to pursue her dreams and have it all. Oh, and she was just released from an underground hub formed by a doomsday cult. That added detail injects new life into the overdone “new to the city” premise, and the show does it very well. While being fresh and intriguing, the atmosphere feels like Leslie Knope’s soul sister got a job at 30 Rock. It’s that good, and makes easing into Kimmy’s (Ellie Kemper) world fairly easy. The rest of the overall story revolves around Kimmy and her new job working for Jacqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski) as a nanny to the young Buckley Voorhees. No relation to the hockey mask, machete wielding Jason sadly. Back to Jacqueline, Krakowski manages to play a character not too dissimilar from her 30 Rock counterpart in a new way. She’s quirky to the max and filled with pious indignation, like a fruit gusher with a new flavor hiding in every bite. Originally born Native American, Jacqueline seized her Mary Tyler Moore life, just with blonde hair. Also working for her is Charles (Andrew Ridings), the only “normal” person in a household of lovable dimwits. The back and forth banter between Charles and Kimmy proves to be charming and not the least bit pandering, a skill that should mainly be contributed to the genius writing of Fey and Carlock.
Speaking of writing, that is the key to this beautiful show. While the performances are all stellar, including Kimmy’s roommate Titus (Tituss Burgess), the words they speak have a comedic power that can only be created from artists like Fey and Carlock. In one episode, Kimmy gets set up on a date with a possible hunk to end all hunks. However, upon her arrival to said date, Kimmy soon learns her hunk is really a one foot in the grave elderly man that can’t retain information. Instead of letting this fact become the punchline, the script takes it a step further and makes this relationship a catalyst for Kimmy to spill all of her fears and misgivings on someone who will listen and not remember. Genius.
What about Kimmy’s acting vehicle, Ellie Kemper? Kemper has worked on several fantastic works of comedy such as Bridesmaids and The Office, but she’s never had the leading role until now. Her portrayal of Kimmy proves that Kemper has a long career of comedy ahead of her. She is equally naive and profound which makes Kimmy a fresh take on the female role model. She questions the important and laughs off the rest that life throws her way. Every scene where Kimmy has to switch between knowledgeable to unaware, is a joy.
Overall, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a series not to be missed. In a world of instant TV gratification, this show is already a staple in the “you haven’t seen that?!” debacle. Cancel all plans, order in, sit back, and start working on that night cheese Netflixers.
Overall Grade: A