Watching the pilot of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a little like undergoing a sugar rush. There’s the high as Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) arrives in New York City, fresh out of a doomsday bunker and ready to restart her life. She eats candy for dinner, falls into a job as a babysitter after she returns Jacqueline’s (Jane Krakowski) thieving son back to his house, and instantly gains an apartment and a couple of new friends with very little effort. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt takes the lure of New York City and the myth that it carries in its history — that here, you can become anyone — and tests that theory out with a former doomsday cult member. If Kimmy Schmidt can make it in New York City, anyone can.
And the show is just a delight to watch. Not only because Kimmy is so giddy in her new environment, but also because of how that excitement has spread across the production of the show. Everything Kimmy wears is bright — all yellows and pinks and sparkly shoes — and her joy at everything is just so infectious. So when she deflates after her backpack (and the thirteen thousand dollars that were in it) is stolen, the rest of the show collapses with her. Kimmy loses her job — and therefore her apartment — and she didn’t even get to kiss a boy at the club that she made her roommate, Titus (Tituss Burgess), take her to.
The sugar high wears off, like it always does, and as Kimmy is coming back down to earth, Titus gives her back her rent money and tells her to get on a bus back home to Indiana. She’s not cut out for New York — he sees her as being too small and weak and naive — and he doesn’t want to see her fall down the same path that he did. Titus’ dreams of being on Broadway have failed (in contrast to those of the real Tituss Burgess) and he now works in a robot costume in Times Square, handing out adverts for an arcade.
He doesn’t think that Kimmy is strong enough to live with him in the big city, so far away from and different to her home, but what he doesn’t understand is that Kimmy doesn’t really have a home. Most of her life has been spent in an underground room. She’s overjoyed to even have a window in her tiny New York bedroom.
Sure, she lost her share of the money that was fundraised for the mole women after a video of their rescue went viral, and as of episode one, she doesn’t have a job, either. But as she’s about to get on the bus and go back to the place that swallowed her underground, she turns back.
New York might seem like a city that would eat a girl like her up — much more so than Indiana, anyway — but in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt it’s not going to. Kimmy has already been devoured once before, and in the end, the earth spat her back up. She’s strong and positive and, because of her experiences, has an incredible lust for life. (And boys. She’d really like to kiss a boy. Maybe that cute tutor, yes? I’m sure Kimmy and I would both enjoy that turn of events.)
Kimmy Schmidt isn’t giving up, and she’s not letting Titus give up either. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is wonderfully ridiculous, colourful and a worthy sitcom successor to anyone mourning the loss of Parks and Recreation or Selfie.
Like I said: it might just be perfect.
- “I’m always amazed at what women will do, because they’re afraid of being rude.” As ridiculous as the framing for Kimmy’s story is, there’s some real truths at the heart of it, and at the heart of this show.
- “Where’s your grown up? Are you alone? Or are you a tiny businessman?”
- Cute tutor boy! I hope we see more of you: “What in the ham sandwich, I just got a job!” “Please tell me that you’re normal. I need someone here to talk to.”
- Titus, though, has got the best lines: “When will I be getting my money!” “What about my money! Slave reparations, Lillian!” “…Touche.” “I envy you. I’ve never been able to meet me.”