June 13, 2016
It started with a boring, purposeless Sunday morning, as most TV binge watch sessions usually do; but long story short, it was at 7pm that I found myself staring at the end credits of the last episode, in the 13-episode first season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, wondering where the day had gone. T’was a rare feat, considering the only other TV series I’ve blown through that quickly is Bob’s Burgers – which, let’s be honest, doesn’t really require much invested attention. But something about the Netflix original comedy series had me clicking ‘next’, every time the credits rolled. I’ve been wholly converted, so here’s an attempt at putting that something into ten concrete reasons.
1. The premise is so… original
Seriously – to the point that it’s downright weird. This doesn’t count as a spoiler since it’s the whole point of the storyline; but essentially, protagonist Kimmy Schmidt is one of four hostages held captive in an underground bunker for fifteen years, by a manipulative preacher in the town of Durnsville, Indiana, who’s managed to form a mini cult of the four women by convincing them that the world had ended. Within the first five minutes of the pilot, the women are rescued and brought back above ground – and from there on Kimmy begins her journey to reclaiming her life and starting over. I get that it’s a comedy, but it was such a bizarre start I had to Wikipedia it to confirm I was watching it right.
2. Kimmy is a boss ass lead
For one, anyone else recognise Kimmy as Erin Hannon from The Office, or the socially awkward prude Becca of the bridal party in Bridesmaids? It takes a little getting used to, but Ellie Kemper’s perky, over-smiling Amelia Bedelia act in Unbreakable is so genuine and earnest she quickly grows on you. That, and the fact that despite having missed 15 of her formative years, Kimmy Schmidt still possesses a fighter’s spirit and a golden heart as she navigates New York City, touching people’s lives and standing up for what’s right. Her antics and dialogue are less self-deprecating humour, and more positive wit and good-natured cheek – which makes for a much more comfortable show to watch than a lot of snidely sexist programs on the market.
3. It takes place in New York City
And who doesn’t love the Big Apple? Some of the best series and soaps have been filmed or at least set in New York City – Gossip Girl, How I Met Your Mother, and Friends, just off the top of our heads. The show is chock full of scenes in TV-favourite locations like Central Park! Times Square! Random homey brownstones in Brooklyn! The world is your oyster in NYC, and Unbreakable sure does satisfy viewers who love the idea of an eventful life in the big city. Heck, there’s even an outright Friends reference in one of the episodes – it’ll thrill you once you catch it.
4. One of the leads is a real-life Broadway star
Enter Titus Andromedon, a struggling actor and musician trying to make it big on Broadway, who is Kimmy’s roommate – and is ironically played by real-life Broadway performer Tituss Burgess. We already love the character’s diva antics, salty lines, and natural flair for flamboyance (both Titus and Tituss are openly gay), but you’ll find yourself truly won over by his impressive high tenor voice, which features prominently in most of the episodes. Fun fact: Tituss’s most recognised role on Broadway is as Sebastian the Crab in the musical The Little Mermaid, which, frankly, suits him to a T.
5. Kimmy’s boss Jacqueline Voorhees is kinda like Samantha Jones… but not
Yes – Samantha Jones, as in Sex and the City Kim Cattrall’s Samantha Jones, the powerful and confident Upper East Sider who basically defined the term “boss lady”. At first contact, wealthy Manhattanite Jacqueline Voorhees, who hires Kimmy to be her nanny, seems an exact replica of Samantha Jones’ blonde, authoritative persona. Both women possess a taste for the finest things in life, and aren’t afraid to be brutally frank (read: rude) about their elite statuses. But Jacqueline quickly begins to reveal more about her situation that sets her apart from Jones’ infallible self-assuredness – refreshing, and increasingly endearing.
6. It’s easily digestible
One of the main reasons why the show takes so little effort to breeze through is its ease of consumption. Far-fetched premise aside, the characters are relatable, the storyline is simple, and the humour rolls naturally and easily off the, err, screen. You won’t find any try-hard dialogue or complicated plot twists here; this is 100% leisure watching material.
7. There’s a British dude!
The inclusion of a British love interest for dear Kimmy speaks exclusively to my personal bias towards British accents, but I’m sure it will appeal to you, dear reader, too. Strangely enough, the show even acknowledges the power of a British drawl – there’s a scene where Adam Campbell’s character convinces Kimmy that everything sounds better in a British accent. Amen to that!
8. The show features some great themes
Face it – it’s the 21st Century, and any TV show that still thrives on crass sexist jokes or blatant racism should really check itself (before it wrecks itself). Unbreakable does make a few innocent jibes at Titus’s expense (seriously though; a Black gay man in a comedy series could never escape some stereotyping), but ultimately celebrates equality, women’s rights, and fighting against patriarchal figures, driving home the points while still keeping it light-hearted. Hell yes to that.
9. You’ll get hooked onto the theme song in seconds
If you’re familiar with YouTube channel schmoyoho’s viral remix of one indignant Antoine Dodson’s interview in 2010, you’ll definitely appreciate the opening theme of Unbreakable, which was produced by the same Gregory Brothers as a tribute to their style of auto-tuning news interviews. (If you haven’t, search ‘Bed Intruder Song’ and thank me later.) It’s catchy, it’s fun, and it sets the mood perfectly for the start of each episode.
10. There’re only two seasons
I.e. catching up is no biggie at all – and much less daunting than embarking on older dramas like The Walking Dead, or even 2 Broke Girls, which are already a good six seasons in. With Season Two freshly out in April, Unbreakable will take you all of two days to complete – three, tops. And you won’t even feel the strain of it.
Images courtesy of Netflix and facebook.com/UnbreakableKimmySchmidt.