I’ve needed a few laughs lately and Tina Fey and Robert Carlock came to the rescue. I ended up binge watching their new show “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” twice. It made me laugh a lot. The thing is that so much of what’s being sold as comedy leaves me cold. I never once laughed watching Seinfeld. Worse still network television executives can’t seem to get rid of shows I like fast enough. (Someone pitch Pushing Dasies to Netflix right now!) So when I tell you to binge watch “Kimmy” don’t listen if you’re not ready for darkly weird comedy.
I love Tina Fey. She’s like that girl from high school who was so funny but the cliques never understood how mean she was because the jokes were smart and sophisticated. I get the feeling that NBC only figured that out after “30 Rock” was finished. “Kimmy” has the same funny bite that Fey and Carlock brought to “30 Rock.” It also has a completely unique thing going for it that must have had NBC execs going WTF when the show got pitched. Their office of Standards and Practices (One of the funniest episodes of “30 Rock”) must have used up boxes of thick black markers on the proposed script. Fortunately for us Netflix doesn’t have that kind of corporate anachronism and they picked up the show.
Yes, there was “weird sex stuff” in the bunker! – Kimmie’s confession to her roomate
Kidnapped at fourteen Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) spends 15 years in an underground bunker thinking the world ended in 2006. Rescued from the cult the Mole Women are rushed to New York to be fodder for the talk shows. “Thank you victims” shout’s an assistant ushering them out after an interview with the real Matt Lauer. Kimmy escapes again and finds a gay black roommate (Tituss Burgess) who holds the record for the most failed auditions for the Lion King. Then she gets a job with a rich socialite (Jane Krakowski) who’s secretly an Indian passing as a blond white woman. (The link is to Jacqueline Keeler’s article about a Native American passing in NYC) There’s also an Asian boyfriend called Dong. The show manages to offend everyone while packing the material with in jokes and sly references.
I know it doesn’t sound funny. I’d be sitting here all night trying to explain how hilarious the mystery crank is. You have to watch almost the whole series before that one jumps up and you end up on the floor laughing. On the surface “Kimmy” seems pretty racist too. Hipster racism is the most popular accusation but I wonder if those critics aren’t the same kind that get the biggest laughs when “Kimmy” writer Azie Dungey skewers them on “Ask a Slave” (It’s a web series about her experiences as a living history character at Mount Vernon.)
Have you ever actually met a black person? – Lizzie May to the abolitionist on “Ask a Slave”
So I think you should go watch “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” or at least the wicked funny Gregory Brothers theme song below. I like weird and funny. I like being challenged when I laugh. I’ll still talk to you if you don’t think “Kimmy” isn’t funny because I think you’ll eventually get the joke.
(In the original interview with Walter Bankson it’s the sunglasses that are unbreakable)