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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Review: Netfix’s latest is an unbreakable joy

    3+Arts+Entertainment

    3 Arts Entertainment

    Kidnappings, a religious cult and arrested psychological development are wrapped up in a banana yellow sweater and light-up sneakers in Netflix’s new breakout show.

    Released in 13 binge-ready episodes on March 6, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is the creation of “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” writing alums Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. It features their signature stereotypical characters who are simultaneously shown to be unique when compared to the rest of society.

    Kimmy Schmidt, played by rising star Ellie Kemper, has already been compared to comedy legend Lucille Ball. Kemper, with her wide smile, is delightful to watch from frame one and has proven she should no longer be relegated to supporting roles.

    For 15 years, Kimmy lived beneath a bunker in Indiana with three other women — all kidnapped by the Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (John Hamm) — who were brainwashed to believe the apocalypse turned the Earth into a fiery domain. The scripture he taught included the holy Gosh and his son Jeepers, who had his moped stolen by his brother, Terry.

    Similar to the women of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints led by imprisoned, self-proclaimed prophet Warren Jeffs, Kimmy and her bunker mates wear pastel-colored prairie dresses and speak sweetly with Midwestern accents, calling one another “sister.”

    Though brainwashed and only having a partial, middle-school education, Kimmy isn’t pathetic. She proves that in innocence there is strength, resilience and a rebellious spirit. She is a tender-hearted nonconformist who never stopped pushing the Reverend’s buttons during flashbacks to her bunker years.

    If this sounds like a Lifetime original movie, it isn’t. The sharp and witty series has Tina Fey’s comedic fingerprints all over it. Sure, Kimmy has night terrors and once awoke in the shower cleaning a knife, but honestly, it is hilarious.

    Kimmy’s breaking-news rescue becomes an auto-tuned viral video that lands her and the other media-nicknamed “mole women” on the “Today Show” for ambush makeovers. One Spanish speaking “mole woman” is called out for never learning English, despite the three others never learning Spanish, in one of many purposeful examples of racial discrepancies.

    Kimmy stays in New York seeking an identity separate from her “mole woman” status. She moves into a basement apartment with unemployed fame-seeker Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), who tries his best to steer Kimmy away from ’80s and ’90s phrases such as “Hammertime!”

    Experiencing adulthood with the social awareness of a 14-year-old, Kimmy experiences her first kiss, her first boyfriend and her first realization that teacher tenure isn’t really beneficial for students.

    The show not only centers on Kimmy but on her roommate. Kimmy finds a confidant in Titus, who guides her, claims to have written Katy Perry’s “Firework” for Kimmy’s birthday and easily steals each scene he is in.

    Escaping his small-town southern upbringing to make it on Broadway, Titus is now paid in quarters to wear a quasi-Iron Man costume in Manhattan. In “Kimmy Is Bad At Math!,” Titus gets employed as a werewolf, only to find his interactions with others is absurdly more pleasant costumed than living as a gay black man.

    His pursuit of show business, thankfully, hasn’t waned, or else his original song “Pinot Noir” would never become the song you never knew you needed.

    The series features “30 Rock” actress Jane Krakowski as socialite Jacqueline Voorhees, who employs Kimmy as her help. Jacqueline has a secret past, having abandoned her Lakota upbringing, but like Kimmy and Titus, she can’t deny the creeping presence of her secret life.

    Though many storylines were wrapped up in the season finale, many more were set up, including Titus’ unfortunate viral shame and his abandoned wife.

    Season two is set to release on Netflix in March 2016 and will certainly be “a fascinating transition. Dammit!”

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    Follow Anna Mae Ludlum on Twitter.

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