Try Kimmy Schmidt for a dose of relentless optimism

“If life seems jolly rotten, there’s something you’ve forgotten; and that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing!” 

Hi there, Keizertimes reader. How are you holding in there? I know it’s been a tough week and an even tougher year, 2020 being the veritable potpourri of misfortunes that it is. Did my Monty Python lyrics cheer you up? No? Well, how about another TV review? 

Wait, no to that as well? 

Too bad, you’re getting another TV review. It’s the best I can do, and I know that they certainly help me when I’m feeling blue. This goes double for reviews focused on comedic pieces, and, as the Pythons are fond of pointing out, comedy can be found even in the darkest places if we’re willing to look hard enough. When it comes to laughing and looking on the bright side in the face of relentless negativity, one of my personal go-tos is Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a Netflix original series from the minds of Tina Fey and 30 Rock showrunner Robert Carlock that ended in 2019 only to be followed up by a big interactive finale Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend (which is not an episode, but its own movie) in May 2020. Kimmy Schmidt’s story is one of empowerment and positivity and is a great antidote for these tough times, although I must admit that the type of goofy humor presented may not be everyone’s cup of tea. 

If you are familiar with 30 Rock or Tina Fey’s time on Saturday Night Live, the comedy in Kimmy Schmidt will make you feel right at home. The writing is sharp and the jokes are fast, if occasionally a bit tone deaf (Jane Krakowski, a white woman, plays a Native American and one of Kimmy’s boyfriends, Dong, can come off as a bit of an Asian stereotype at times, for instance). Some episodes in the later seasons can also lag a bit as you become more and more familiar with the beats of the jokes, but overall it is a fantastic series that deals with life’s unpleasant moments with a smile. Ellie Kemper shines as the titular Kimmy, and if Tituss Burgess (who plays her flamboyant but lazy roommate also named Titus, one “s”) doesn’t become one of Hollywood’s new leading comedic superstars I will light myself on fire. 

The new interactive capstone to the series, Kimmy vs. the Reverend, is a singularly unique experience. As you watch, you will be prompted to make decisions on where the story goes by choosing one of several options on the screen at certain points. Some decisions matter more than others and some lead to dead ends that make you go back and chose the “right” decision, but the results are always hilarious and often meta in the way only Kimmy Schmidt can be. I ended up killing the main characters twice on accident, for instance, and was thoroughly reprimanded both times. The only problem with this format is the fact that you inevitably miss some funny scenes and have to watch the whole thing multiple times to get every result. You also never know when making the “right” decision or the “smart” decision or the “in character” decision is the correct one. But hey, isn’t that how life is? My only advice is to pick the “’splode him” option when it pops up. You won’t regret it. 

And hey, watch the show too. You won’t regret that either.   

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs the Reverend are now available on Netflix.