Kirsty Capes reviews the second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt…
Starring Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Sam Page, Ki Hong Lee, Dylan Gelula, Jane Krasowski, Mike Carlsen, Lisa Kudrow and Jeff Goldblum.
This time last year I wrote a rather scathing review of Netflix’s new Tina Fey comedy, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I called it stale and unbecoming, and mildly offensive, and incited a few trolls to pitch up in the comments and tell me how wrong I was, and how bad at English I was. After the response, I began to question myself. Maybe I was being too hard on poor little Kimmy. Maybe I was missing the point. Maybe the mild offensiveness of it was actually an intellectual attack on the bourgeousie, the gentrification of New York City, that I was too basic to understand, and not the bad racism-for-laughs comedy that I thought it was. I must say, I was almost looking forward to the release of season 2 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, because I almost wanted to be proven wrong by the comments trolls. I wanted to give Tina Fey, whose work I generally love, the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to be delighted by Kimmy (Ellie Kemper), to be left in stitches by Tituss (Tituss Burgess, who somehow nabbed an Emmy nomination for this show). I waited.
I’m really, really, really sorry, folks, but I still don’t like it. Despite going in to season 2 with as open a mind as I could possibly muster, I still found Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt crude and dull. Despite all of those bubblegum colours and diversely dressed characters, I found the writing for this show to be equally as lackluster as the first attempt.
It was just boring, and the plot for season 2 was all over the place. Characters came and went as they pleased. A military officer named Keith (Sam Page) who looked to be a promising new addition to the cast was only around for one episode, while Kimmy’s love interest Dong (Ki Hong Lee) fizzled out toward the latter half of the season despite plenty of unfinished business. Meanwhile Xanthippe (Dylan Gelula), Kimmy’s nemesis for most of season 1, is only around for episode 1 before wandering off to live with her dad. Jacqueline (Jane Krasowski) disappears for a few episodes right in the middle of a big personal crisis point, sacrificing any tension which was present and letting it all drain out to the point where it is non-existent by the time she turns up again. Her son, Buckley, played by Tanner Flood, inexplicably disappears with his necessity to plot progression.
All this chopping and changing meant that it was hard to keep up with the hyperactive plotlines, and everything seemed off-kilter or out of place. And most importantly, aside from a few throwaway chuckles here and there, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is just not funny. (I would love to know whether any other Brits find it funny, because I feel like it might be a cultural thing. Let me know, please.)
Despite all of this, there were some really, really cool storylines which had a lot of potential and will hopefully be developed in season 3. Kimmy finally coming to terms with the trauma of her kidnapping is intriguing and cleverly done as her repressed memories begin to escape her as smelly burps. Lisa Kudrow stars as her mother. Tina Fey plays Kimmy’s therapist, called Andrea, who is also an alcoholic, although her dual personality is a little ridiculous (there’s also a cameo from Jeff Goldblum as TV’s Doctor Dave – a play on Dr Phil). Meanwhile, Tituss finds love with a construction worker called Mikey (Mike Carlsen) and helps him come out to his family in some genuinely touching scenes, while Lillian tries to save her neighbourhood from hipsters. Unfortunately, everything that was good about season 2 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was executed so poorly that it really had no impact on the overall effectiveness of the show.
I promise you, I really did try to like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; I loved Ellie Kemper in The Office, and I think Mean Girls is a work of art. I feel like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is trying to be groundbreaking in terms of American comedy, but it’s not even making a dent in terms of innovation or originality. I have to say that my opinion hasn’t changed, still, and the only thing good about this show is, once again, the infectious theme song.
Kirsty Capes – Follow me on Twitter
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