Netflix recently released the first season of its new series, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” The show revolves around the adventures of Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper), and how she attempts to readjust to modern life after she is rescued from being held hostage by the Indiana Doomsday Cult. Being rescued from an underground bunker after thinking the apocalypse occurred was a wake-up call for Kimmy and the three other women trapped with her.
Having been been abducted as a middle schooler, Kimmy’s new adult life in New York comically contrasts her childhood and provides a plethora of entertaining situations. She lives with her talented, flashy, and very broke roommate, Titus Andromedon (Titus Burgess), who helps Kimmy get a better grasp of how the world works today. Kimmy also ends up working as a nanny for a wealthy mother in Manhattan, Jacqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski), and shenanigans ensue as Kimmy begins to learn about the lifestyle of the wealthy.
Ellie Kemper does a great job playing the role of the naïve and upbeat Kimmy Schmidt. She’s definitely had preparation for the role, having played the similar Erin Hannon on “The Office.” Kimmy simply wants to learn how to grow up and take charge of her life, and Kemper portrays her energetically and vibrantly without coming off as a phony. Jane Krakowski does a fantastic job playing the neurotic and wealthy Jacquelyn. As the over- the-top roommate who wants to be on Broadway, Titus Burgess is cheeky and entertaining.
The show was created by Tina Fey and it retains her ability to pervade intellectual and lowbrow jokes. There is a general, refreshing theme of female empowerment, including Kimmy’s search for independence and Jacquelyn’s struggle for respect from her inattentive husband. Fey manages to satirize different issues facing society today (classism, sexism, and racism) hilariously–for the most part.
In “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Jacquelyn has a bizarre backstory where she is a Native American woman named Jackie Lynn who decided to dye her hair blond, and become a white woman. She reconnects with her past through stereotypical references to indigenous culture and the while this subplot is panning out, I’m wondering why it was necessary. This was supposed to be self-aware satire, but there is a line between being satirical and being offensive. It is true that indigenous groups could use more media representation, but they deserve something less offensive than the Jacquelyn Voorhees subplot.
From a surface level perspective, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is an entertaining show about the adventures of a liberated young adult trying to find her place in New York. The show is lighthearted enough to binge watch in one afternoon, but raises odd questions about racial representation in the media.