Last Friday saw the debut of Netflix’s latest original series from creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock (30 Rock), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The new series follows 29-year-old Kimmy Schmidt and her readjustment to society after being rescued from an apocalypse cult, where she was held captive underground for 15 years.
Quite a morbid premise, to say the least. So morbid was it, in fact, that NBC decided to pass it up, leaving an opening for streaming giant Netflix to scoop it up. In an interview with NPR, Ellie Kemper, who plays the unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt herself, shared her first reaction when Fey and Carlock first told her about it.
“We sat down to dinner and they said, ‘Okay well we did come up with an idea for this comedy. You are a young lady who has been tapped in a bunker for fifteen years, and you’ve just escaped.’ And so I thought, ‘I don’t know… are you… uh, really?’… I think it was a risk, but I think that we all did the job correctly. And I hope that people appreciate and like the finished version. Something that I already knew but that was reinforced is that bad things happen in the world, and the answer is not to shy away from them, but to address them.”
While the series plays like a typical “fish out of water” scenario, the psychological scarring of the “unbreakable” lead is clear and present. Not only does Kimmy Schmidt have to adjust to life in New York after being underground for 15 years, but she also has to make peace with the trauma she suffered while in the bunker. Early on, she realizes that in order to do this, she has to confront this problem head-on, and that simply smiling and trudging forth won’t completely fix things. And Kimmy’s problems aren’t the only ones that get the spotlight in the series.
On the sidelines, we follow her new roommate, Titus, as he struggles as an actor in the big city. More interestingly, we have Kimmy’s shallow employer, Jaqueline, whose constant feelings of inadequacy propel her to become the worst type of New Yorker possible. These characters have serious issues, of course, but all the same, in typical Tina Fey fashion, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt doesn’t make the mistake of taking itself too seriously.
From the get-go, the series tempers its serious premise with a goofy and catchy opening song, which is made up from an autotune of the news broadcast where Kimmy was rescued. Add in the smart and irreverent commentary on modern society, elitism, and the entertainment industry, and you have gold. A great comedy with some real substance.
If you haven’t checked out the series yet, it’s available only on Netflix. And if you want a small taste, be sure to check out the opening song below.
[Image Credit: Netflix]