Bring on the Mole Women!
March 7, 2015 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Suffering Parks and Recreation withdrawal after last week's series finale? Still heartbroken that 30 Rock is off the air? Vaguely worried about the Yahoo version of Community scheduled to arise later this month? Well, good news: Tina Fey's new show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt debuted on Netflix last yesterday.

Vulture is calling it terrific; Slate is calling it the new 30 Rock. Other reviews describe the show as "delightful but strange even by the standards of 30 Rock" and Ellie Kemper's performance as "hilarious, advancing perkiness to a comically psychotic level without having Kimmy ever lose her fundamental appeal".

The Los Angeles Times notes that it is "a series in which three of the four lead characters are female, of different ages, and the fourth is a gay black man. Because that never happens."
posted by Blue Jello Elf (132 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
 
"delightful but strange even by the standards of 30 Rock" is a really accurate way of putting it. It's basically all the wackiest parts of 30 Rock strung together.

I can't decide whether I like it or not, but I did watch 5 episodes in a row without really noticing.
posted by supercres at 7:47 AM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm on episode ten! It's crazy and I love it. Carol Kane is a national treasure.
posted by leesh at 7:58 AM on March 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


I really had fun blasting through it all yesterday. Really watchable and laugh out loud funny, especially after you get a few episodes in.
posted by Zephyrial at 8:18 AM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd hate to burn my way through it, but I was laughing nonstop through the first two episodes last night. I don't know how much success I'll have at rationing the remaining episodes.

LOVE the Sweet Brown "Ain't Nobody Got Time For That"- inspired autotune remix opening theme!!
posted by wats at 8:25 AM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is both the most effortlessly, uttering charming show I've seen in a long time while also feeling as fresh and zeitgiesty as Broad City. It feels so "now" in a way I can't quite express yet. Like I think it deploys Internet Voice really well? I have to think about it.

how did we end up in a golden age of sit-coms?


(also, hey! I totally walked through thier exterior location shooting near Mrytle Ave last year! They had like four locations set up in a four block radius so they must've done it all at once - all the signs called it UNTITLED TINA FEY PROJECT)
posted by The Whelk at 8:26 AM on March 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


"It's two Cyndees by a Gretchen!"

I've only watched the pilot so far, but loved it. Whoever passed this up from NBC should be fired, or at least get a letter in their file.
posted by drezdn at 8:40 AM on March 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


XANTHIPPE LANNISTER VOORHEES

That is all.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:47 AM on March 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


I'm so stoked about this I can't even see straight! I have watched all of 30-Rock over 15 times..*blush*
posted by bird internet at 8:49 AM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Tina Fey's new show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt debuted on Netflix last yesterday.

I remember last yesterday like it was the tomorrow before the preceding fortnight.
posted by w0mbat at 8:50 AM on March 7, 2015 [35 favorites]


I don't think I had to truly admit I was Old until someone realised that every time they told me about 30 Rock I thought they were talking about 3rd Rock. I hadn't worked out they were different shows from different eras until both were off the air.

So I hear that Sarah Palin impersonator was on it, now? Interesting! And Parks and Rec is where all those gifs with the moustachioed guy come from, right?

I think that in the end this is like Pokémon, in that it was something I had to get a tumblr to understand.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 9:00 AM on March 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


I've only watched the pilot so far, but loved it. Whoever passed this up from NBC should be fired, or at least get a letter in their file.

NBC's thing this year is that comedy has been getting it killed in the ratings, so they're not trying to build a comedy block. They're especially worried abut getting another slate of low-rated critical darlings. They didn't "pass" on his; they actually picked it up initially. It's just that NBC then decided to focus on dramas and reality programming because $$$$.

This has gotten me to stop watching NBC, but my suspicion is that high-quality shows are probably better served by the likes of HBO, Netflix, FX, AMC, and Amazon Prime. The subscription model means ratings are somewhat irrelevant. But the downside is that the area of overlap between "good" TV and "event" TV keeps getting smaller and smaller.
posted by kewb at 9:02 AM on March 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, it does take a few episodes to pick up. About episode 4, I think. That Martin Short cameo is awesome.

It's still not quite as great as 30 Rock. They don't have the budget for the amount of writers and cast that made 30 Rock great.
posted by Catblack at 9:02 AM on March 7, 2015


Guys, can I watch this with my 12-year-old son?
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:11 AM on March 7, 2015


"Traditional Indiana courtship - flowers and meat"

I've been binge watching it today. I suspect that I'll need to re-watch it with the Mrs. to catch all the jokes.
posted by BobtheThief at 9:28 AM on March 7, 2015


BlahLaLa - UK Netflix has given it a 12 rating and it's been pretty clean so far (I'm five or six episodes in - I lost count)
posted by terretu at 9:46 AM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Los Angeles Times notes that it is "a series in which three of the four lead characters are female, of different ages, and the fourth is a gay black man. Because that never happens."

Designing Women?
posted by cazoo at 9:52 AM on March 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


I had no idea this was happening and now I need Netflix.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:58 AM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


They flung in an Auntie Mame reference right before a Daria reference so now it's my favorite show.
posted by The Whelk at 10:06 AM on March 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Binged 7 or 8 episodes Friday. I think I laughed way out loud even more than with 30 Rock. And despite the protag's backstory, it seems there were fewer too-dark moments of humor for me.
I wasn't as in to the Carol Kane character, while at the same time the antagonistic stepdaughter is growing on me.
I give it 3.5 bouquets of dogs.
(Not sent from a Macintosh phone with its map of Ohio.)
posted by NorthernLite at 10:09 AM on March 7, 2015


My understanding is that NBC owns the show and actually has a pretty big stake in seeing it succeed, and allowing it to be released on Netflix was a strategy for them. They don't think that it has a good shot in their current line-up, and they thought it was more likely to find an audience on Netflix than on the network.

Anyway, I'm two episodes in and enjoying it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:10 AM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Looking forward to starting watching this tonight.
posted by arcticseal at 10:24 AM on March 7, 2015


Did they name drop Corn Mo in ep2?

This is amazing.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:58 AM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


It is astonishingly adroit as a survivor story, too, with a deep vein of sadness running directly under everything. It's real powerful.
posted by Pardon Our Dust at 11:00 AM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ugghhhhhhhh I love Ellie Kemper and have wanted her to success since she starred in my favorite video on the internet EIGHT YEARS AGO. So it's like OK YES FINALLY SHE IS A STAR DAMN WHAT TOOK U SO LONG MEDIA MAKERS. K off to watch this now.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:09 AM on March 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I loved it but could have done without the Dong/Asian jokes. It was smart about so many things that I don't know why it sat so flat on the Asian stereotypes (and the Native American stuff was weird too).
posted by zutalors! at 11:40 AM on March 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


Not joining Netflix. Is it available / going to be available through iTunes or something?
posted by amtho at 11:57 AM on March 7, 2015


I have only one petty complaint:

I have been trying for 30 years now to break people of the habit of calling me "Kimmy". They could have just as easily named this "The Unbreakable KIM Schmidt", but no, thanks a lot Tina
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:04 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


The character is totally a Kimmy, though. Kim is a normal-person name, and she's someone whose last interaction with the outside world was when she was in eighth grade.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:15 PM on March 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


I just wrapped this up and it was fudging amazing.

GOOD LORD the opening credits song is incredible.
posted by AloneOssifer at 12:22 PM on March 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


high-quality shows are probably better served by the likes of HBO, Netflix, FX, AMC, and Amazon Prime. The subscription model means ratings are somewhat irrelevant.

Yep, the best of TV is no longer good for the masses. Let the Top 10% who can afford it pay for it (which was always HBO's model and why I NEVER subscribed to it). But it doesn't explain how Dick Van Dyke, M*A*S*H, All in the Family and even Seinfeld got such good ratings in their time. I guess cretins of my generation used to be more tolerant of quality TV than they are now with so many more options.

Is "I don't have HBO, Netflix or Amazon Prime" the new "I don't have a TV"?
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:47 PM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's good that netflix has something positive to balance their new Richie Rich remake which a Grantland reviewer described as "a streamable hate crime."
posted by creade at 1:03 PM on March 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Very much looking forward to this show.

Also worth checking out, Fox's new The Last Man on Earth starring frequent 30 Rock cast members Will Forte and Kristen Schaal. I really don't know if they are going to be able to sustain such a high concept comedy, but damn were the first two episodes excellent.

"There's really no wrong way to use a margarita pool"
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:11 PM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Still no promotion for this show on my Netflix home page. I had to search for it to find it. That's really surprising to me. Released too close to House of Cards and Aziz's new special??
posted by Ike_Arumba at 1:17 PM on March 7, 2015


Still no promotion for this show on my Netflix home page.

Really? I get a giant, animated thing in that top part where they do that stuff, and it's been there for several days. Maybe the animation isn't playing nice with your setup?

Then again, maybe Netflix has cottoned to the fact that I'm just not interested in House of Cards and stopped trying to push it on me, 'cause I didn't get any promotional stuff for that. Like maybe they're targeting people who've watched 30 Rock (and not House of Cards)?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:21 PM on March 7, 2015


I had the giant animated thing, plus they sent me an email that was like "hey, you're going to like this show." I'd be curious to know what combination of things that I watch made their algorithm tag me as someone who would like this. My other recently-watched things are a documentary about Big Star, Short Term 12, and the first season of Broadchurch, none of which really scream out for a goofy half-hour sitcom. Maybe it's because I've watched a lot of Gilmore Girls?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:28 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is it just me or are all the actresses wearing infinitely less makeup than one normally would?

I love it if they are.
posted by Talez at 2:42 PM on March 7, 2015


Loving this! Did the people that did autotune the news do the intro? Love that too so this is like the best thing ever to me right now.
posted by ST!NG at 3:10 PM on March 7, 2015


Yep, the best of TV is no longer good for the masses. Let the Top 10% who can afford it pay for it (which was always HBO's model and why I NEVER subscribed to it). But it doesn't explain how Dick Van Dyke, M*A*S*H, All in the Family and even Seinfeld got such good ratings in their time. I guess cretins of my generation used to be more tolerant of quality TV than they are now with so many more options.

Three of those shows existed prior to cable TV, and the fourth was prior to the extreme fragmentation of the audience caused by the unforeseen proliferation of cable. "The people" are still watching good V, it's just that they're watching a lot of different stuff and doing so through a lot of other models other than the broadcast TV networks. (I'd add that much of the shift is generational; younger people tend to stream or torrent TV rather than watching it. And some of it also the expansion of the workday and a bunch of other factors.)
posted by kewb at 3:17 PM on March 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I wonder of Kimmy being from Indiana was a shoutout to Parks and Rec, or just to the Midwest, where the Fey/Richmonds have ties.

Also, the show did a variation on a 30 Rock joke about opera on Bravo. There was also some stuff in the dinner party epi that had strong 30R echoes -even Kemper seemed to be channeling Liz Lemon. And Jane is playing a slightly less insane version of Jenna. But then again, steal from the best- and if you yourself are the best..
posted by NorthernLite at 3:33 PM on March 7, 2015


Just finished watching the first four episodes. I can't imagine a more perfectly suited role for Ellie Kemper than this. Yes, the Jane Krakowski role is fairly indistinguishable from her character on 30 Rock, but she's hysterical in the part, so I don't have a problem with it (actually, Ellie Kemper's role isn't all that far removed from her character on The Office, either). I think the step-daughter may be my favorite character.
posted by The Gooch at 4:15 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wonder of Kimmy being from Indiana was a shoutout to Parks and Rec, or just to the Midwest, where the Fey/Richmonds have ties.

Indiana can signify 'deeply weird' without the character needing to stick to an accent.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:40 PM on March 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Eerie, even.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:05 PM on March 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


Not joining Netflix. Is it available / going to be available through iTunes or something?

The whole reason Netflix makes original content is to get you to join, so probably not, at least for a while. It took about a year for House of Cards to be released to Amazon Prime, so that's a maybe.
posted by General Malaise at 5:31 PM on March 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Saw the first episode last night and loved it. I've loved both Ellie Kemper and Tina Fey in just about anything I've ever seen them in.

I have to give credit to my niece for pointing this out: There's a line in the pilot when Kimmy said "the worst thing that’s ever happened to me happened in my own front yard."

Tina Fey got her face slashed by a stranger in her front yard when she was a kid. I suspect that was the worst thing that's ever happened to her.
posted by bondcliff at 5:36 PM on March 7, 2015 [16 favorites]


Not to spoil all the amazing cameos in this but holy fuck Sally Draper.
posted by The Whelk at 6:25 PM on March 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Just binge watched it. SO GOOD!
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:29 PM on March 7, 2015


This has such a satisfying darkness running through all the cheerful neon colors. I love it! Reminds me a bit of Pushing Daisies, but with less nostalgia.
posted by rabbitbookworm at 6:50 PM on March 7, 2015


Thank you, Tina Fey, for unsubtle-ly yet subtly illuminating the invisible premise of life that women are unbreakable.
posted by Punctual at 7:11 PM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


>>Tina Fey's new show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt debuted on Netflix last yesterday.

I remember last yesterday like it was the tomorrow before the preceding fortnight.


Aargh, this is what I get for editing text while multitasking! I resolve to focus on one thing at a time, starting next tomorrow!
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 7:32 PM on March 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm only four episodes in, but man, that vein of darkness is rich. I mean, it's still funny, but I'm finding that darkness surprisingly honest and affecting. "You can bear anything for ten seconds," and "I'm not really here!"
posted by yasaman at 7:46 PM on March 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I watched the whole season today.

So glad this made it to the Blue because I loved it so damn much and am glad that others are loving it.

I'm already planning a re-watch because I know I missed things.

I agree with the comment on it seeing so fresh and so now. I can't put a finger on why exactly either.

So many good lines with biting subtext, "It's amazing what women will to not seem impolite. Bye victims. Take care victims."

And the gaming geek in me just lost it at "Troll the respawn." Ha ha, I'm laughing again just remembering it.

It's been a long, long time since a half hour comedy has brought me such joy and utter delight.
posted by Jalliah at 8:13 PM on March 7, 2015


Holy crap!
I decided to check out the first episode this afternoon and have spent the rest of the day binge-watching. I started cackling at "chica hamburguesa" and now it hurts to breathe.
posted by bibliowench at 8:55 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Upbeat positive (unbreakable?) stuff normally depresses me, but this is spiced with so much wonderful darkness.

Ellie Kemper is pretty awesome.
posted by porpoise at 8:59 PM on March 7, 2015


Just finished ep. 5. It actually gets better from here? Insane.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:03 PM on March 7, 2015




I don't get all the "it's so weird and kooky" stuff though. It's basically 30 Rock except the characters have actual problems.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:25 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes, the Autotune song at the beginning was written by the Gregory Brothers who do ATTN.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:28 PM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


The "Shame Puppet" reversal was sublime.
posted by porpoise at 10:10 PM on March 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


oh my god the resolution of the daddy's boy joke

i'm crying
posted by yasaman at 10:33 PM on March 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Binged ten episodes, had to sleep, can't wait to crack through the last four. Still can't quite believe how well this turned out.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:41 PM on March 7, 2015


The joke at the end of episode 10! Worth the binge watch for that last 5 minutes. Hilarious!
posted by Catblack at 11:46 PM on March 7, 2015


NO one has mentioned the obvious Autotune the News bit the title song is CLEARLY based on

Tunewise, perhaps, but there are definite riffs on Charles Ramsey throughout, plus Bed Intruder for good measure. I think it's fair for them to mine their own material, of course.

Anyway, I've only seen the pilot so far, and it is quite strange, but one of the things I loved about 30 Rock -- once I got used to it -- was the unconventional structure and complete freedom it would assign itself to sidebars and tangents.

Whoever passed this up from NBC should be fired

Here's the thing about network TV. It has a schedule. Shows need a timeslot. There have been tons of good shows that got passed up, or had to switch networks, for the want of a good timeslot. Netflix doesn't have that problem. And a good timeslot isn't just an opening in the schedule; it has to have the right lead-in audience, and be the right lead-in for what follows. Scheduling is a dark art and has about the same level of risk as moving battleships on a big map of the ocean.

My understanding is that NBC owns the show

Universal Television, to be accurate. I think this does underline that they just didn't have a good place for it. They also probably wanted to further test a relationship with Netflix, so this might lead to more NBC content on the service eventually.
posted by dhartung at 3:22 AM on March 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


>>My understanding is that NBC owns the show

Universal Television, to be accurate.


A subsidiary of Sheinhardt wigs!
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 8:37 AM on March 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


Ellie Kemper's role isn't all that far removed from her character on The Office, either

I'm binge-watching this weekend too, and it keeps reminding me of Erin's amazing "in foster care, my hair was my room" moment, which was weird and sad and darkly funny all at the same time and sort of seems like the predecessor to her role here.

She is so good here. I keep thinking about how certain moments would be cheesy, or seem exploitative, or just fall flat if it weren't for her amazing performance. Her comic delivery is impeccable.

One thing: I'm only 5 episodes in, and I keep wondering if we'll get to meet her family this season (no spoilers!).
posted by lunasol at 9:13 AM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


"So, whether you're turning a heavy crank, the purpose of which is unknown to this day, or just waiting around to open some presents, all you got to do is...

♪ Take it ten seconds at a time ♪"
posted by laptolain at 11:25 AM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just watched the first episode and well, there goes the rest of my Sunday. This show is great, and what's more, *sustainable* (which is something I can't see with Last Man On Earth no matter how much I love Forte & Schaal).
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:27 AM on March 8, 2015


Is anyone planning to put this up on FanFare?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:53 AM on March 8, 2015


I requested that it be added to the list of shows on fanfare late Friday, hopefully it will be approved sometime soon.
posted by Mick at 12:05 PM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Okay, two episodes in (girlfriend has the netflix account and would rather we watch them together anyway) and holy shit this is good. Perfectly threads the needle with its tone. My favorite moments so far:

"Chica Hamburguesa"
Jacquelyn offering Kimmy a bottle of water and then just throwing it in the trash.
"So we're married? I go with you now?"
Kimmy's amazing overly-professional job pitch at the candy store.
Titus' background shout of "Not the crotch!" during the (relatively) emotional Kimmy/Jacquelyn scene.
Lillian putting Titus' dollhouse furniture on the curb.
Off-brand "Miss Piggy"
Kimmy's various names for Xanthippe.
"Her boyfriend's an ophthalmologist, but he's in St. Bart's right now with his wife."
Kimmy tentatively gesturing towards what she hopes might be the Givenchy romper.
"Well, these bitches never learned Spanish, so..."
posted by Navelgazer at 12:28 PM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, and the one thing that bugged me: the rat epiphany - so was Kimmy brainwashed or not? The pilot, at least, seems to go back and forth on that a bit, and so the rat thing threw me off a bit. Still adore this show, though.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:31 PM on March 8, 2015


I have never laughed out loud so hard, so consistently at a tv show.

"First time on bath salts, huh?"
posted by tofu_crouton at 1:12 PM on March 8, 2015


I have a day full of meetings next week, and I can see myself jumping up and down and chanting "I'm not really here! I'm not really here!"
posted by bibliowench at 1:21 PM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


"[In Lakota] Today is a good day to die, band nerds."

I love all things about this show.
posted by nathan_teske at 1:46 PM on March 8, 2015


A t-shirt that just says DRUGS
posted by The Whelk at 1:54 PM on March 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


It's good that netflix has something positive to balance their new Richie Rich remake which a Grantland reviewer described as "a streamable hate crime."

That Grantland essay is amazing. How did that show even get made??
posted by lunasol at 2:07 PM on March 8, 2015


Damn you people, after reading this yesterday, I stayed up all night binge-watching this!

I don't know what it says about me, but I only got through 1 1/2 seasons of Breaking Bad and House of Cards, but I had no problem watching every episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. And like 30 Rock, I find this show a more accurate representation of the world than Breaking Bad and House of Cards.
posted by maggiemaggie at 4:16 PM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


My violin is also a shark!
posted by arcticseal at 5:31 PM on March 8, 2015


How are Tituss Burgess and Hannibal Buress not somehow related?
posted by The Whelk at 5:33 PM on March 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Because of the g.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 5:49 PM on March 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


Also the Romans and Carthaginians totally hated each other I mean read up on your history, gah.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:54 PM on March 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


The fact that Tituss' rival also has not just a Sheakeperian name but the name of another Shakesperian Roman fills me with joy

Minor quibble- the Mount Airy lodge closed years ago, but Times Sscare is the horror-themed dining venue in town! Nice use of the novelty hit "Beware of the blob" there, Burt Bacharct first song writing credit!

Also, the lawyers who are ALSO stuck in the 90s but for a different reason.
posted by The Whelk at 5:59 PM on March 8, 2015


oh my god the resolution of the daddy's boy joke

i'm crying


It just KEPT GOING OH MY GOD.
posted by The Whelk at 6:07 PM on March 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


I was watching it with the captions on...recall when the Mole Women are being interviewed by Matt Lauer and during the introductions you hear one of them say "Hi, Bryant!" Funny enough, to be sure.

But through the whole scene, every time that Lauer said something, the captions identified him as [BRYANT]. I don't know who writes the captions but I am *still* laughing at that.
posted by tristeza at 6:53 PM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have to watch it on the Internet? What if I get cyber bullied!
posted by chrchr at 8:17 PM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


OK, in all seriousness, someone needs to write something for Ellie Kemper where she can do more physical humor, up to and including classic slapstick. She didn't do a ton in this show, and I don't recall her doing any on The Office, but from the few bits she got I think she would be A-FUCKING-MAZING; I think she's got a real gift for physical work that hasn't been tapped yet (as far as I know - I haven't seen Bridesmaids.)
posted by soundguy99 at 9:05 PM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


So I finished this earlier tonight, and I found it to be a surprisingly cogent take on being a survivor versus being a victim, with some trenchant criticism on how society treats survivors. Hilarity is still the show's priority, and the show pulls some dark humor from Kimmy's trauma and reintegration into society, but the narrative wants us to be with Kimmy in those moments, not gawking at her or laughing at her. Kimmy has nightmares, Kimmy has trouble sleeping, Kimmy has difficulty forming romantic relationships, Kimmy is incredibly vulnerable in some ways, and incredibly strong in others. It's a much more nuanced portrayal than I was expecting amidst all the wackiness.
posted by yasaman at 10:47 PM on March 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


I bingewatched all of this yesterday during my boring weekend with the flu, absolutely fantastic and definitely has the voice of The Internet.
posted by ellieBOA at 4:03 AM on March 9, 2015


“I’m always amazed at what women will do because they’re afraid of being rude."

Like fuck Matt Lauer, but that moment was perfect.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:41 AM on March 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


Kimmy's various names for Xanthippe.

Xanthippe is the Pete Campbell to Kimmy's Don Draper.
posted by zutalors! at 6:42 AM on March 9, 2015


FEMALES ARE STRONG AS HELL.

If you can't get with this show's theme song, we can't be friends.
posted by marcin_zissou at 6:57 AM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


How much improv is in UKS? Not much, similar to 30 Rock. "'The Office’ was more improvised because it’s a different pace," said [Ellie] Kemper. "There’s longer moments to breathe, and people would improvise I think a bit more."

Interesting to hear that the pace of a show sets how much improv is allowed/facilitated. I wonder how these three shows compare with Reno 911! and other shows that included members of The State, both for amount of improv and density of the scripting.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:34 AM on March 9, 2015


Vox sez: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt isn’t the new 30 Rock. It's the new Bewitched.
Here are five sitcoms Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has buried way down deep in its DNA that you might not have thought of:

1) Bewitched
Bewitched told the story of Samantha Stevens, a young housewife who also happened to be a witch. Her husband, Darren, was in on the secret, but nosy neighbors were not. At all times, her past — in the form of her mother, Endora — threatened to expose her true self.
...
In Bewitched, Samantha's witchcraft was a coded way of talking about the expanding power of women in 1960s America. On Kimmy Schmidt, the protagonist's journey works as the story of what anyone, anywhere goes through when trying to put the traumas of the past behind them.

2) Get Smart
This '60s spoof about an incompetent secret agent taking on the forces of KAOS (a rival spy organization) bears fewer similarities to Kimmy than Bewitched does, but in one important case, the two shows are similar — they both feature harsh worlds that could just as easily destroy our heroes as help them.

3) Family Affair
Kimmy gender-flips this '60s show's premise. In Family Affair, a lifelong bachelor found himself forced to care for his brother's orphaned children, with the hope of his manservant, Mr. French.

4) Maude
Created by '70s super-producer Norman Lear, Maude was one of the original blatantly feminist sitcoms, about the woman in the title, who refused to live within the boxes society placed her in.

5) Parks & Recreation
In some ways, Kimmy Schmidt plays as a stealth sequel to the recently concluded Parks. Imagine if Leslie Knope, the Indiana-born-and-bred hero of Parks, moved to the big city to begin a new life — the results would look a lot like Kimmy. Granted, the circumstances of Kimmy's life in Indiana are drastically different from those of Leslie's, but the two characters share a positive spirit and can-do optimism that links them.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:41 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am 100% certain I would have recognized that headline as a piece written by Todd VanDerWerff even if it didn't say it was from Vox.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:05 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I finished episode 9, and while I'm liking the show the Asian stereotypes are so, so bad I can't continue watching without some assurance that it's going to get better. Things that are killing me:
  • The obviously Korean guy playing a Vietnamese character
  • The painfully bad "fobby" accent the actor's putting on
  • the "hilarious" language mix-ups (Asians speaking English, so wacky!)
  • The characterization of his life experience back home that makes me wonder if Fey has ever met an East Asian person, much less an East Asian immigrant (he lived in a dirt pile, he can't touch women, etc)
  • The Asian male stereotypes: he's awkward, not sexy, good at math, knows martial arts . . .
  • Did Fey seriously name this guy Dong, is this seriously 2015 and you named your Asian character Dong?
They took a guy who looks like he should be playing James Bond and from what I can tell he's the Long Duk Dong of 2015. Does this improve? Like, maybe at the end we find out he was faking the horrible accent and is actually a fully realized character and his name isn't Dong? Or is this it?

I love Tina Fey with all my heart and soul, but every time that character comes on screen or is mentioned my face starts cramping from all the wincing and cringing.
posted by schroedinger at 10:29 AM on March 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


I really, really liked this show. But the writing! So terrible! Not so bad to make me dislike the show, but it seemed like every major plot got dropped and disappeared.

For example:

what happened to kimmy playing with knives / choking people in her sleep? She talked to the old man... and decided that wasn't helping. Oh well!

one-off line about "and yes there was weird sex stuff" - THROW AWAY GAG

Taking care of the child who is a thief. Never mind!

Romance and flirting with the cute boy in the tie. Who cares!

really poor lady owns a building / couple apartments in a building in NYC. Reasonable!

Kimmy decides that the best way to beat her shit teacher is by having all the students pass their GED. Everyone fails!

Kimmy's goal is to pass her GED. Forgotten!

Kimmy's mom "got lost." Who cares!

Titus spends a day in straight camp. Ability Unlocked!

Kimmy startes to bond with Xanthippe. Put onna bus!
posted by rebent at 11:06 AM on March 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


They took a guy who looks like he should be playing James Bond and from what I can tell he's the Long Duk Dong of 2015. Does this improve? Like, maybe at the end we find out he was faking the horrible accent and is actually a fully realized character and his name isn't Dong? Or is this it?

SPOILERS AND MY OPINION AHEAD:

I totally agree with this, I'm semi shocked more people haven't mentioned the horrible Asian stereotypes but not totally because it seems like it's still cool to make fun of Asians. I've seen crickets on this character elsewhere online and in this thread.

But yeah it doesn't get better. One Asian FB friend said they didn't mind because he turns into a love interest, but he doesn't really. He's there for a lot of throwaway jokes and even his love interest storyline becomes an immigration thing and he's basically forgotten about when she goes to Rev Wayne Gary Wayne's trial. I don't think they needed the character at all.

The stereotypes/Dong jokes are really egregious and I don't care if they come from Tina Fey, it's just not right.
posted by zutalors! at 11:13 AM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


really poor lady owns a building / couple apartments in a building in NYC. Reasonable!

It's not UN-reasonable, at least - the property could have belonged to the lady's parents and they died and left her the deed, and the rent laws could be keeping the rent low because the tenants have been there for a while. Or it's a case of "bought during the housing boom/then the recession sucked dingo kidneys" boom and bust.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:57 AM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Mild 'ironic' racism isn't a new thing for Tina Fey, 30 Rock has plenty of those moments.

Still no excuse, but it seems people have decided t give her a pass on it.
posted by Mick at 12:34 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah it's kind of an intersectionality classic. "This is really smart about women!" "True! But it's also problematic about race." "Come on, it's smart about women though? Do you want EVERYTHING all in one show?" "It would be nice actually, yeah."
posted by zutalors! at 12:44 PM on March 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


The whole Jacqueline is actually Native American thing didn't sit right with me. The actors playing her parents were great, and their jokes were funny, but whatever meta thing they thought they had going with a white actress playing a Native American woman who's rejected her heritage just did not work for me at all. I don't care if you hang a lampshade on your whitewashing, it's still whitewashing and it's still offensive.

I mean, I don't know, the show's stereotyping is fairly equal opportunity across races and genders, it's sort of part of the style, but it falls flat for me with stuff like this and with Dong. Really the worst parts of a show that I otherwise enjoyed.
posted by yasaman at 1:08 PM on March 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah the Native American stuff bothered me, too. I thought the part with Tituss feeling more safe around cops, getting cabs, dressed as a werewolf than just being a regular black man, was some smart social satire, which is why the Dong stuff and also the Native American stuff was even more WHY for me.
posted by zutalors! at 1:13 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Episode 1 is up on Fanfare.
posted by drezdn at 1:31 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


So, let me get this straight: NBC decided to pass on this (very excellent) show, while simultaneously deciding to take another stab at Heroes for some reason.

Were I not gleefully rooting for the complete and utter collapse of Comcast's empire, I'd be a bit concerned... but if the end result of NBC's inexplicable and suicidal business strategy is that we get new well-written shows (basically) for free on Netflix, I guess I'm for it.
posted by schmod at 1:43 PM on March 9, 2015


while simultaneously deciding to take another stab at Heroes for some reason.

And "Undateable"!
posted by drezdn at 1:47 PM on March 9, 2015


I think the criticism that it stereotyped Asians is fair. Here's why it didn't bother me too much.

1. The character is a romantic lead. That wipes out a bunch of my personal concerns. Like in the end, whatever they got wrong can't be that insulting since the main character finds him dreamy.

2. There are a shit ton of immigrants in New York. They are poor as fuck and a lot of them really are incredibly sheltered. Seeing them represented on screen in a show about modern NYC feels right to me, even if some of the jokes are Hacky.

3. It felt respectful of Asian culture when it was referenced. Tho obviously I don't know much about Vietnamese culture and probably neither do the writers.

3. A lot of the stereotypes come from characters and are jokes about how dumb they are. Especially Carol Kane.

4. He's a victim too. Just like Kimmy, he's working his ass off just to stay afloat and try to fit in. Ultimately the show loves and respects him and the audience is meant to root for him and his goals, rather than just popping him in when they need a cheap laugh like on 2 Broke girls or whatever.

All that said, I'm not Asian. Seems like fair game to rip the show if you see it as being racist from that perspective.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:57 PM on March 9, 2015


I am slowly making my way through the show, so I can't yet (and probably won't) comment on any troubling Asian racism.

But I did really like this piece, which is what I came in here to post:

How ‘The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ Is Subverting the Gay Best Friend Stereotype

To understand Titus’ cultural importance, we have to understand the GBF traditions in which he’s rooted, and which he’s subverting. It’s been a long road for gay best friends, which is part of the reason why they have — rightly, at least in the past — been singled out as an offensive trope.


Further, I feel like in an attempt to not have gays that were "too stereotypical", media has too often within the last 15 years, removed the fabulously flamboyant dudes who make up a huge population of gay men. Tituss is awesome.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:05 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Titus is unabashedly sissy AND also kind of mean and self-centered. Its refreshing to have a GBF character who has an outside life and is the two most hated things in gaylandia: fat and femmy
posted by The Whelk at 3:35 PM on March 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


To correct myself above, Tituss the actor plays Titus the character. I will never male this mistake again and I encourage the same!

(Both are awesome)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:13 PM on March 9, 2015


Mild 'ironic' racism isn't a new thing for Tina Fey, 30 Rock has plenty of those moments.

First of all, that dude is one "Oriental riff" and gong sound effect away from being I.Y. Yunioshi, so I would hardly call it "mild". What if he was Black, but talked in fake-ass ebonics, recounted how his mom was on crack and his sister was a stripper, taught Kimmy to rap or play basketball, and confronted Logan Beekman with "YO YO YO STEP OFF MY HO"? I don't think anyone would be quite so forgiving, and yet she's done the equivalent with an Asian character.

I remember not being impressed with the few Asian or Hispanic encounters we saw on it. But I thought she handled Black/White issues pretty well. Hell, in UKS she handles it well--the werewolf subplot was fantastic. But it's like if she steps outside that particular racial dichotomy suddenly it's OK to go buck-wild with shit that would've been considered racist 30 years ago.

1. The character is a romantic lead. That wipes out a bunch of my personal concerns. Like in the end, whatever they got wrong can't be that insulting since the main character finds him dreamy.

I can't comment on this since I haven't gotten to that. All of the romantic overtones he's made have so far been very "Haha, look at this sheltered sexless Asian dude try to get sex!" Though from other people's thoughts it sounds like the romance gets thrown to the side.

2. There are a shit ton of immigrants in New York. They are poor as fuck and a lot of them really are incredibly sheltered. Seeing them represented on screen in a show about modern NYC feels right to me, even if some of the jokes are Hacky.
3. It felt respectful of Asian culture when it was referenced. Tho obviously I don't know much about Vietnamese culture and probably neither do the writers.


I guess I don't see how it was respectful. All of the jokes involving him boiled down to "those wacky Asians". And if you had a white middle schooler from the Midwest imitate what they thought an "Asian" sounds like, then you'd have the accent the guy used.

Apparently the Vietnamese words for "sugar" and "street" do sound alike . . . so at least there's that.
posted by schroedinger at 4:48 PM on March 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


3. A lot of the stereotypes come from characters and are jokes about how dumb they are. Especially Carol Kane.

Making a couple jokes about white people doesn't make up for the fact your few Asian characters are walking stereotypes. Even if the female character likes Dong, all that says is "look how loveable these walking stereotypes are!"

The more I think about this the more upset I get. I've been watching Fresh Off the Boat and Selfie before that and it was really refreshing to see fully-realized Asian characters who weren't this amalgam of shitty assumptions.
posted by schroedinger at 4:51 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I wasn't quite sure what to think about some of the Asian stuff either.

However (JOKE SPOILER AHEAD), for all the "dong" jokes, they also mention at least twice that Kimmy's name means "penis" in Vietnamese, and the internet says this is accurate, so it's more complex than it seems on the surface.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 4:52 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


According to Tina Fey, even though a cameo of a catcalling construction worker uses the same actor in the same way as on 30 Rock, the show "universes" have to remain separate -- at least due to Jane Krakowski. Fey also has a different, comparatively minor, role (spoiler, I suppose), and in addition, Tracy Morgan has expressed interest in participating once he's well enough. Which we all hope for.
posted by dhartung at 4:53 PM on March 9, 2015


but it seemed like every major plot got dropped and disappeared.

Well, as far as I know, they got a two-season commitment right off the bat, so I see lots of things as not "dropped" so much as "to be continued . . . "

Plus, with only 13 episodes and twenty minutes of actual showtime per, I'm willing to cut 'em a little slack if some things get lost in the shuffle.


what happened to kimmy playing with knives / choking people in her sleep? She talked to the old man... and decided that wasn't helping. Oh well!

File under "(maybe) to be continued"; these are symptoms of her trauma, and she was having difficulty moving past them 'til she got some things resolved - like seeing the Rev put in prison. One hates to use the word "closure", but . . . .

one-off line about "and yes there was weird sex stuff" - THROW AWAY GAG

Maybe, maybe not. Gag this season, sure. But the show's about an adult woman having to actually consciously learn how to be an adult woman; she missed out on all (well, a lot, anyway) of the "normal" fumbling adolescent romance and sex experiences, things she would have "normally" done at 15 or 16 or 22 are things she's doing for the first time at 30. (Hint: Look at the titles of the episodes - they're all phrased like they're referring to a child being excited about doing something for the first time.) She's barely kissed a boy, actually having sex with someone she likes (and how that "weird sex stuff" affects that) is next season.

Taking care of the child who is a thief. Never mind!

Eh, maybe. It's her job. We're not following the poor girl around 18 hours a day, we're only catching the important bits. Lots of comedies skip huge chunks of the characters' lives.

Plus, given the show's focus on women, I'm OK with the show creators deciding that Kimmy interacting with the monster boy-child is not really what they want to spend much time with. They're not trying to make "Two And A Half Women."

Romance and flirting with the cute boy in the tie. Who cares!

Again, this (smooching a cute boy in her class or co-worker) is one of those "normal" teen/early-20's things that Kimmy didn't get a chance to do because she was in the bunker. She's had little to no experience dealing with a guy wanting to get flirty and "romantic" but not serious. (I think they did kinda drop this one quickly - if you've had a fling with someone but still have to see them every day after it's over it can mess you up.)

really poor lady owns a building / couple apartments in a building in NYC. Reasonable!

I'm not so sure Carol Kane's character is poor. She gripes about money and looks like a schlub, but that's pretty superficial. She's certainly able to carry Titus for a couple of month's worth of rent, and she's always able to lend him cash. She could easily be "eccentric millionaire."

Plus, not all buildings in NYC cost millions and millions of dollars, especially not in the 70's and 80's. I can think of a half-dozen entirely plausible ways (in addition to EmpressCallipygos' points above) that a 60-something-year-old woman could wind up owning a small apartment building.

Kimmy decides that the best way to beat her shit teacher is by having all the students pass their GED. Everyone fails!

Kimmy's goal is to pass her GED. Forgotten!


All the GED stuff is clearly in the "next season" camp. I thought they made it pretty obvious that her whole life got suddenly interrupted by the trial.

Kimmy's mom "got lost." Who cares!

Possibly a throwaway as part of the running joke about how her step-dad is just no good at all as a cop.

But there were some bits at the trial that suggested to me that maybe Kimmy's home life was not so great before she got abducted. Which not only makes sense in terms of the set-up of the show - emotionally vulnerable/neglected teens are often easy targets for cults - but suggests that Kimmy's mom could very well show up next season.

Titus spends a day in straight camp. Ability Unlocked!

I'll give you that one. Wrapping up the joke of the episode took precedence over plausibility.

Kimmy startes to bond with Xanthippe. Put onna bus!

Another bit pretty clearly telegraphed as "to be continued." If anything, I'd kinda call that the season-ending cliff-hanger. Just as it seems she's starting to bond and have some influence over Xan, Kimmy decides to ship Xan off to Connecticut, which Xan clearly sees as a betrayal. We'll have to wait for next season to see how this plays out.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:19 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I just watched the episode 'Kimmy's in a Love Triangle', and it illuminates Dong's character a bit. It's clear that he's designed to be a male Kimmy. Someone who is an outsider to 'normal' New York culture as much as she is. Their names both meaning 'penis' in each other's language highlights that. They both have trouble with modern vocabulary. She was kidnapped and he's in danger of having the same thing happen to him, but by INS. Etc.
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:22 PM on March 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


Every episode title ends in an exclamation point! That is delightful!

I can't not see Carol Kane as Grandmama Addams and I love it.

Also, even a little bit of Richard Kind makes everything better, and that is science.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:35 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think it is fine and good to draw the parallels between them. But you could have him be a fish-out-of-water immigrant without resorting to racism.
posted by schroedinger at 8:07 PM on March 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


Goliath Gary Willikers
posted by jason_steakums at 8:09 PM on March 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


Agreed on the racism stuff. I do like that there's an Asian romantic lead and hope he sticks around as Kimmy's love interest for a while; I think he's pretty cute, and at least they didn't write him as too sweetly subservient and naive--he got annoyed with Kimmy several times for decent reasons and didn't stick around after she chose Logan.

I imagine the writers thought that his integration into the U.S. would parallel Kimmy's integration into the modern U.S. and agree that this is a good match, but I also feel like they were like, "What sort of guy would have a cute, innocent, non-grown-up romance with Kimmy? A real adult would expect to have a sexual relationship with her. Oh, I know! Some Asian guy! We can say his 'culture' doesn't allow touching and can therefore delay dealing with having to write about Kimmy having sex!"

They're trying to play around with the stereotype so it isn't offensive but instead self-aware ("It's all a Long Duk Dong joke!"), but they haven't done the job yet. Like, don't cast an Asian male lead if you're writing an innocent, not-too-sexy character, writers, please. We see what you're doing. The accent is just ugh.
posted by Yoko Ono's Advice Column at 9:11 PM on March 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


Is it me or does a Highlander-esque "Spider-Men fighting each other to become the One Spider-Man" actually sound pretty awesome?

The original Walter Bankston interview from which the theme song is made.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:36 PM on March 10, 2015 [4 favorites]




So, I grew up in a cult
posted by The Whelk at 9:53 PM on March 10, 2015 [2 favorites]






Hmm. There is no way to respond to that thing without spoilers, jcifa, but suffice it to say that I don't think that person finished the series. I can't really blame her for not finishing a series that she found really racist, but there's a late reveal that challenges one of her criticisms.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:48 PM on March 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


The article refers to events in the last episode, so the author must have watched the season. This makes the analysis of Dona Maria even more confusing. It is presenting a straw man argument.

... which is disappointing. I really loved the show, but there are some real problems with race. I'd love to see a good critique about the racism in the show. That article just isn't it, though.
posted by meese at 5:52 AM on March 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Turn your resistannce all the way up to Gandhi!
posted by Dr. Zira at 4:04 PM on March 14, 2015


I binge watched it all, but more as background noise, and my impressions were:

* Jane Krakowski; I want to love her but this is just Jenna Maroney without delusions of being an ACTOR and hiding her Native American roots as opposed to Jenna's trailer park roots;
* Ellie Kemper; she's still Erin from The Office;
* Titus is stereotyped as heck and I've seen this character again and again AND in 30 Rock and he's the only character who has me laughing out loud;
* Dylan is another stereotyped privileged teenage monster who turns out to be actually lovely with surprising depth.

* Carol Kane is glorious;
* You can ask Jon Hamm to play anything and every time, he sells it;
* Hi Kong Lee kind of steals the entire show;
* TIna Fey as the world's worst lawyer was terrific.

I love the music; the entire concept, but I feel like with the talent writing it, this show could have less stereotypes and be funnier.

*And again, that apartment shared by Titus and Kimmy? Come on. I didn't love the show but it was no 30 Rock.
posted by kinetic at 5:15 AM on March 15, 2015


* Dylan is another stereotyped privileged teenage monster who turns out to be actually lovely with surprising depth.

Do you mean Xanthippe? (Granted, that's an absolutely ridiculous name!). The thing I like about her is that when we learn more about her, it's actually not that she's a lovely, deep person. She's still a pretty selfish, entitled kid whose primary concern is that her friends like her; it just turns out that she has another layer in addition to that. Her arc felt very realistic to me.

And sorta agree with you about Ellie Kemper, but I think of it more like she took her role from the office and added about 10 layers of depth to it. Add her amazing comedic chops and her performance is one of the things that elevates this show above mere sitcom.
posted by lunasol at 10:12 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Titus isn't a modern stereotype, the modern gay stereotype is a well off white muscle dudebro who loves rugby. Titus is the opposite of that
posted by The Whelk at 11:58 AM on March 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


A lot has already been written about how Titus is a subversion of the Gay Best Friend archetype. That's the thing: it's one thing when you're employing stereotypes in order to subvert them (Titus). It's another where you're employing stereotypes but your attempts at subversion are so half-hearted and one-off that all you did was add a fresh coat of paint (Dong and Dona Marie).
posted by schroedinger at 2:21 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I like to think the show was pitched as "What if Punky Brewster was kidnapped when she was 15 and forced to live in a bunker..."
posted by drezdn at 1:13 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]




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