Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Review: Tina Fey Strikes Back

Photo Credit:http://uproxx.com/tv/2014/11/tina-feys-new-comedy-the-unbreakable-kimmy-schmidt-moves-from-nbc-to-netflix/

It’s been two years since 30 Rock aired its series finale, but that hasn’t stopped Tina Fey from starting her next project: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the weirdest happy/dark comedy you can imagine with the same whit that made Fey’s previous efforts such a success.

The Office‘s Ellie Kemper stars as Kimmy Schmidt, an Indiana girl whose been trapped in a bunker for 15 years as part of a cult that thinks the rapture has most certainly already happened. Once rescued, she and the rest of the “Mole Women” do a press tour that lands Kimmy in New York City, where she decides to stay and try out a new life. From there, she moves in with Tituss Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), a gay aspiring Broadway performer, and starts working as a nanny for Jacqueline Voorhees (30 Rock alum Jane Krakowski), a rich Manhattanite seemingly part of the white elite.

With this cast of zany characters, the best praise I can say about Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is that it is simply a very funny show. And I mean very funny. Like, laugh-so-hard-you-miss-the-next-joke funny. The delivery of over-the-top ridiculousness and perfect one-liners is very similar to 30 Rock. There’s no question the two shows are from the same mind.

Kemper’s portrayal of Kimmy is occasionally uneven, but she gets enough right that the series really sings when Kimmy is being used well, which is most of the time. But the supporting cast are more than up to the challenge. Krakowski shined as Jenna Maroney, and she shines again as Jacqueline Voorhees. The writers know what lines to give her that she’ll nail right on the head as well as they know when to let her go crazy and chew the scenery.

But the true breakout on the television scene (as he’s been doing stage for years) is Burgess, who has created one of the most watchable, hilarious, and interesting in any comedy on TV recently. Tituss is over the top with his ideas of how to get famous, but it’s how he handles material like going to a straight coach because there are almost no roles for effeminate men that transcends the character to greatness. There’s never a “woe is me” feeling for the gay characters on the show, and Tituss isn’t the only one, just jokes poking fun at real situations gay men face today.

But an honest, though hysterically outrageous, showcase of LGBTQ issues is far from the only way Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is progressive. This is a Tina Fey show so there’s certainly the feminist element. Sometimes it’s a bit heavy handed, but most of it is subtle enough that you don’t feel like the series is on its soapbox. Then there’s the interracial relationship between a white female and an Asian male, which is unheard of on television. So the show is doing a lot while it’s being outwardly hilarious.

If there’s one criticism, it’s that the series may be a little too much like 30 Rock. Right down to the upbeat score, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt feels like any of its characters could cross over with Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy’s world at any time. This is something Parks and Rec. first faced, and eventually overcame, in relation to The Office. In another season, this series will likely feel as original as all the great comedies I just mentioned.

As a whole, this first season is incredibly strong right out of the gate. There’s barely a learning curve as the first couple episodes are certainly funny enough to carry us into around episode four when things go from laugh-out-loud funny to side-splitting. The two episodes before the finale are a little slow, not using enough of the core cast, but the season still ends on a high and comes out on top.

This leaves the question, how well would the show have done in the ratings had it landed on NBC as it was intended to? With the ever-expanding TV golden era continuing to separate farther and farther away from network television, probably not very high. Netflix is the right home for a comedy this quick and on-point. And with a first season this strong, you can see why they didn’t hesitate in ordering a second batch. I for one can’t wait until then. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *