Hashbrown: Unbreakable!

Hashbrown: Unbreakable!
Courtesy Photo From creator/writer Tina Fey, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is available for streaming exclusively on Netflix.

Courtesy Photo
From creator/writer Tina Fey, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is available for streaming exclusively on Netflix.

The recent finale of Parks & Recreation, and before that, 30 Rock, left a void of two very particular, and to me, beloved kinds of comedies in my life. Thankfully, Tina Fey’s new comedy The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, debuted on Netflix last Friday, taking all of the insanity and quirk from 30 Rock and combining it with the blinding optimism that made Parks & Rec such a pleasure to watch until the very end. Plus, any show that’s theme song’s most catchy part is “Females are strong as hell” very much has the Liz Lemon/Leslie Knope spirit.

That’s not to say that Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt doesn’t have it’s own identity outside of these show, because the plot itself is something we’ve never seen before. After being kidnapped at the age of 15 by the Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, leader of a small cult, Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) and three other women are held in an underground bunker for 14 years and made to believe the world outside has turned to ash. When she and the other “Indiana Mole Women” are rescued, Kimmy finds instead that the world is not only still there, but completely new and wonderful to her. She decides to shed the would-be victim-hood of being a Mole Woman and start life anew in New York City.

This doesn’t sound like the ingredients for the bright, fantastic comedy I’ve described above, and teetering on that line more brilliantly than she ever has is the ever wonderful, ever hilarious, Tina Fey. While stocking the episodes as full of big laughs as she can, she and Robert Carlock, co-creator of both Unbreakable and 30 Rock, they take the time to deal with race, misogyny, homosexuality, immigration, commercialism, religion, victim-hood, and survival, all while delivering some of the most quotable lines in pop culture; mark my words, “Troll the respawn, Jeremy!” and “Hashbrown: No filter” are going to endure as well as “I want to go to there.”

Another mark of Fey’s stellar comedy writing is her ability to create amazing cartoonish-like side characters, going as far back as Mean Girls. This project is one for the record books, though. Kimmy’s roommate and best friend is Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), a gay black man who borders on caricature at first but soon becomes one of the things that sets the show apart from standard network fare. Always ready with a song and a hilarious one-liner, he serves as Kimmy’s shepherd into the world that, in many ways, she’s not ready for.

Alongside Titus is Kimmy’s boss, Jacqueline Voorhees, played by 30 Rock’s Jane Krakowski. While Titus is Kimmy’s best friend and guide in this world, Jacqueline becomes someone for Kimmy to help while she helps herself. Vapid on the outside but with a good heart, Mrs. Voorhees is quite a separation from Jenna Maroney’s non-stop ego trips of 30 Rock fame. Suffering a troubled marriage and trying to run away from a life she misses at heart, Kimmy begins to show her a brightness that she had forgotten was there.

That’s really the key to this show. Kimmy Schmidt. When Ellie Kemper was on The Office, she played a ditzy but lovable character that was instantly endearing. Kimmy’s ditzyness isn’t because of not being intelligent, it’s because she honestly doesn’t know. She says odd things, like not feeling being googled, but it’s not because she’s not smart. She just hasn’t been around, and has a genuine wonder and joy for the experiences she never had. This makes for some of the most endearingly funny television I’ve seen in years, and a great preview of what Netflix might have in store for it’s comedy block. As for Kimmy Schmidt? She’s going to be around for a while, because females are strong as hell.

Troll the respawn, Jeremy!

Categories: Commentary