WELL THAT HAPPENED: Dammit! Kimmy Schmidt is the New Liz Lemon

By on March 25, 2015
Jacqueline (Krakowski) shows Kimmy (Kemper) how to look skinny in a selfie. (Photo credit: Netflix)

Jacqueline (Krakowski) shows Kimmy (Kemper) how to look skinny in a selfie. (Photo credit: Netflix)

“Unbreakable! They’re alive, dammit! It’s a miracle! Unbreakable! They’re alive, dammit! But females are strong as hell! Unbreakable! They’re alive, dammit. It’s a miracle! Unbreakable! They’re alive, dammit! That’s gonna be uh, you know, uh, a fascinating transition… Dammit!”

The lyrics to the opening song of the new Netflix comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt are frustratingly catchy and impossible to shake once they’ve settled into your brain. The character of Kimmy Schmidt (played by The Office actress Ellie Kemper) is equally as infecting and wonderful, and I am so happy to proclaim myself a SchmidtHead.

Tina Fey, who created and starred in the seven-season comedy phenomenon 30 Rock is one of the creators and executive producers of the new show, which details the life of Kimmy, an Indiana “mole woman” who has been trapped in a bunker for the last decade and a half. Kidnapped by an insane preacher when she was 15, she and three other women lived underground, as they were told an apocalypse wiped out all of humanity and would die if they left.

Originally, Fey proposed the show to NBC, but they ultimately passed. Netflix quickly swooped in and picked up the show for two seasons with an option to extend. This, as it turns out, was a godsend for fans of Fey’s humor. Netflix, being its own streaming network, does not have to abide by typical FCC censors.

“I have a dog named Abattoir, and Ellie’s character says, ‘Mrs. Voorhees, I’m not sure but I’m a little worried because Abattoir hasn’t gone to the bathroom in days,’” says actress Jane Krakowski who plays a billionaire stay-at-home mother named Jacqueline Voorhees. “And I said, ‘Oh honey, don’t worry about that. They bred that out years ago.’ Which I never thought would make the final cut. But now that we’re on Netflix, [all the jokes] make it.”

Over the course of 13 consistently funny episodes, the newly-rescued Kimmy adjusts to her new life in New York City, while concealing the fact that she is a socially-repressed, unaccustomed country bumpkin who is still 15 at heart. She befriends a gay aspiring actor named Titus Andromedon (an incomparable and brilliant Titus Burgess), a Vietnamese immigrant named Dong (Ki Hong Lee), and Lilian (Carol Kane), an addlebrained landlord, among many others.

Rarely has a comedy show hooked me from the first five minutes, and I ended up binge-watching the 13 episodes…twice-through. The jokes whiz by so fast that it’s hard to catch everything right away, making it the kind of show that gets better with rewatching (see: Arrested Development). With each episodes offering up hilarious, quotable lines, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has already solidified itself as one of the best, most original comedies in the past decade.

Upon solving a problem, Kimmy shouts “Urethra!” instead of “Eureka!”

A lot of the show’s success is due to Ellie Kemper’s lovable, effortless portrayal of the title character. While we’ve seen scatterbrained characters on TV for ages, Kimmy Schmidt is a wildly entertaining amalgam of Phoebe Buffay, Sheldon Cooper and Ugly Betty.

Liz Lemon is a role model to confident night-cheese-eating, self-deprecating 30-somethings. Hannah Horvath (of HBO’s Girls) appeals to young women searching for meaning in a complicated world. And now all those disorganized, optimistic, wacky 20-somethings have a heroine in Kimmy Schmidt.

As someone who appreciates hilarious female comedians, I can’t recommend this show enough. You’ll be singing the opening song (as well as Titus’s “Pinot Noir” song) for months to come.

About Andrew Munz

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