“Unbreakable: Kimmy Schmidt” Review

 

The entertainment moguls at Netflix have done it again. The company’s newest original comedy series, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” affectionately referred to as just “Unbreakable,” has swept viewers off of their cozy couches and warm binge-watching pillow nests in a frenzy of laughter and emotional connection. Spunky Kimmy Schmidt is the epitome of the multi-faceted main character: she’s cute, brave, curious, and downright hilarious.

“Unbreakable” focuses on 29 year-old Kimmy Schmidt, portrayed by the convincing Ellie Kemper, a bright woman who is thrown into the fast-paced lifestyle of New York city after being rescued from a doomsday cult in rural Indiana. The show builds its humor and pointed moral messages around the idea that Kimmy still has the mind of a child– she was abducted in the eighth grade and held underground for 15 years by the Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (played by “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm). With only a middle school education and a fondness for light up sneakers, Kimmy moves in with the flamboyant Tithus (Tithuss Burgess), under the strangely involved landlord Lillian (Carol Kane), meets the cute Vietnamese Dong (Ki Hong Lee) and begins work as a nanny for the absurdly rich Voorhees family under Mrs. Jacqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski) .

Netflix originals have received high praise from entertainment critics and the national community alike. “Orange is the New Black,” “BoJack Horseman,” and “House of Cards” are all award-winning programs, and each earned a loyal, cult following from their fans. “Unbreakable” continues to fill the big shoes Netflix established with its preceding online-only shows. IMDB critics rated the show 8.2 stars out of 10, and Rotten Tomatoes gave a dazzling 94% approval rate.

The show may be funniest to loyal viewers who watch every episode linearly, but clever writing and an easily navigable plot allow for anyone to click on any episode at any time and enjoy what they’re watching. Strong supporting characters add a good balance to the show– watchers aren’t bored with story after story of Kimmy’s experiences, but get to laugh while Tithus and Lillian try to film a music video, and see Jacqueline push her way through a messy divorce with her cheating husband.

While most comedies these days gain their audience’s attention with lowbrow and offensive humor, “Unbreakable” balances its sexually-undertoned jokes with lame comebacks, and validates its playfully homophobic or racist comments by pointing out the societal flaws within the joke itself. The show has an unexpected political bite. For instance, the first episode, “Kimmy Goes Outside!”, calls out the lack of representation of minorities in the media as a newscast covering the rescue of the “Mole Women” flashes across the screen.

 

A newscast on the show made a pointed dig at the media's tendency to be racially biased.

A newscast on the show made a pointed dig at the media’s tendency to be racially biased.

Kimmy's years of captivity led her to be a bit confused by 2015's technology.

Kimmy’s years of captivity led her to be a bit confused by 2015’s technology.

The show also places a strong focus on female empowerment. The opening theme song is based around the line “‘cause females are strong as hell,” and each episode sees at least one reference to Kimmy doing something in spite of being a woman; at least one reference destroying the idea that women need men to survive.

Season 1  of “Unbreakable” is on Netflix now, with season 2 being released in late 2015. The show is worth watching, and promises every viewer at least one laugh, even if they don’t fall in love with the series as a whole.