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Monday, March 9, 2015

Watch This Immediately, You Idiot!: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

I've been racking my brain for the past 48 hours trying to come up with a way to describe my feelings about Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the new Tina Fey-created comedy that debuted on Netflix last Friday, in a single, direct statement that doesn't sound like an incredible exaggeration, and therefore, open to the scoffing and eye-rolling of the general public.  But then I remembered that Giant Electric Penguin is nothing if not one man's hyperbolic ramblings regarding the pop culture he adores, so here's what I came up with.  You can tell me in the comments if you think I've gone too far.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is the funniest half-hour, single-camera situation comedy to ever exist in the history of TV and/or subscription-based entertainment-streaming services.  In fact, it may the greatest comedy program of ALL TIME!!!
In Time's Square--where New Yorkers shop!

I'm willing to agree that perhaps that third exclamation point is a bit "much," but I stand by the rest of my statement.  Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a consistently hilarious endeavor from top (by which I mean the Gregory Brothers-created theme song that has been stuck in my head all weekend) to bottom (the credits, in which the names of all the people responsible for this genius comedy are contained), and I for one am glad I devoted six-and-a-half hours to watching the first season on Friday.  Feels like time well spent, and I mean that.

If the fact that Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was created by Tina Fey and that I was compelled to use three exclamation points earlier--something that I've now decided was not a bit "much" but maybe not "enough"--then maybe I should tell you that it stars Ellie Kemper (of "being hilarious" fame), Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane and Jane Krakowski doing some of the best work of their careers, as well as some amazing guest turns from Richard Kind, Tim Blake Nelson, Martin Short and Jon Hamm as charismatic cult leader/wannabe Apprentice cast member, Richard Wayne Gary Wayne.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a joke machine in the 30 Rock tradition, but I think it tells a more readily identifiable story, even though it revolves around a young woman (the titular Schmidt, played to perfection by Ellie Kemper) who has just been freed from 15 years captivity in an underground bunker located in a local weirdo's backyard.  After being interviewed on the Today show with her fellow cult captives, Kimmy decides she doesn't want to be defined by her past, isn't content to simply live out the rest of her days known as one of the "Indiana Mole Women," and chooses to remain in New York City and make a go at a normal life, even though she sports an eighth grade education, can fit her all of her earthly possessions in a purple backpack, has no place to live and says things like "what the ham sandwich?!?" on a regular basis.  Through the magic of positivity and pure dumb luck, Kimmy finds an affordable basement apartment, which she shares with Titus, an out-of-work actor, and a job keeping house (kinda-sorta) for an eccentric family run by Jane Krakowski, who is never not funny, and while in some ways as strange as 30 Rock's Jenna, is less off-putting and seemingly capable of change--also the handful of flashbacks to her life before moving to the Big Apple and marrying a neglectful millionaire, are some of my favorite moments of the first season.

I don't want to write much more, not for any dumb spoilery reason, but because you need to watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for yourself.  It's funny, strange, sweet and emotionally satisfying.  And it's got the most sophisticated robot character since Screech Powers' Kevin.


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