Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Season 1

I love Tina Fey, I love Robert Carlock, I love of what they’re capable of doing together comedically. I love Ellie Kemper, I love stories about people makin’ it, and obviously I love things about New York City because I just moved here. You’d think this show would be right in my wheelhouse. It only sort of was.

The jokes-per-minute tally is insane. (“Daddy’s Boy,” anyone?) The acting, especially from Tituss Burgess, is divine. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was watching an elaborate, multi-part play. There’s nothing wrong with plays, it’s just that, tonally, I can only take so much of them. There was a certain inexplicable jazz-handsiness floating about Kimmy, a positivity, an optimism, a literal display of the colors of the rainbow, that I found overbearing.

The thing is, I relate to Kimmy (Kemper), and maybe that’s why I’m holding her at arm’s length. She, too, came to New York on something of a whim — albeit under dreadful fictional circumstances — and she held the city in extremely high regard without really considering how it might affect her once she got here. But whereas she is Turning It Around and Making It Happen, I’m just sort of doing my best to maintain the status quo. The bright colors that Kimmy still sees — again, fictionally — are still bright for her, but they dulled very quickly for me.

I’m not saying I’m some grisled, experienced New Yorker who can’t crack a smile. I’m not even a New Yorker! I haven’t even lived here long enough to call myself that. I may not even make it to the 10-year mark before I decide somewhere else is better. But it’s weird watching a grown woman in a vaguely similar situation treat this place like an adult theme park. It is that, sometimes, but it’s also a place that serves a function and a purpose. Maybe I can’t relate to Kimmy after all.

You’ll forgive my grumpiness; when I was giving this show some deep thought, I hadn’t slept in two days. There was a battery-low-in-the-fire-alarm alarm going off in my building, and it sounded like a basketball shoe squeaking on a gym floor. Not loud enough to prevent me from hearing myself think, but frequent enough to disturb the peace. Waking up in the city that never sleeps isn’t exactly glamorous when you never slept in the first place. And it makes you envy people who don’t have to worry about these sorts of issues — people like, say, Kimmy Schmidt. (Then again, her fictional problems are worse than mine. She was trapped in an underground bunker for over a decade!)

On the subject of that underground bunker, that subject is what I strongly preferred about the show. The darker aspects. The gritty stuff. At the beginning, Kimmy (Kemper) was trying to hide her Bunker past from the new people in her life, and it resulted in her shutting down her normally cheery facade and hiding in plain sight. It was kind of fascinating, and I think the show handled that concept well — not only was the actual horror of being trapped underground and led by a religious maniac (Jon Hamm, obviously) highlighted, but the absurdity of it was played up perfectly. I almost wish that those scenes could be played to actual fantatics, actual victims, anyone involved, for perspective. To let them know that we all get it, and that we’re here to help. (How naive of me.)

Though I’ve done my research (Google!) and know that this show was renewed for Season 2, I sort of wish it was a one-and-done situation. Not because it’s bad, but because it’s a finite story, maybe. Of course, Kimmy Schmidt is the type of zany character bound to have zany New York adventures, and I’m sure some of those are worth following, but as I said before, the focus for me was on the Bunker aspect of her life, and with that storyline cleared up, there’s not as much of an anchor. Of course, I’m curious to see where the show goes in more episodes, but I’m wary of it getting too caper-tastic. Although the words “I guess I’ll just have to trust Tina Fey” are not bad ones. In fact, I wish I said them more often about a broader variety of things.

The takeaway here: Females are strong as hell, come smoke-alarm-induced hell or fictional-bunker-level high water.

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