With its new show, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Netflix has once again shown the power exclusive online content can have. Created by Tina Fey, who also wrote for and created the NBC series “30 Rock,” the show was initially set to premiere on NBC when it later was sold to Netflix.
The series follow the eponymous Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper), a young woman rescued from a bizarre Indiana doomsday cult, as she tries to navigate New York in a world that has changed drastically during her 15-year-long imprisonment. Despite society constantly knocking Kimmy down, she remains optimistic, even spreading her optimism to her struggling actor roommate Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess).
Humor is used in “Unbreakable” to deal with the pain and alienation that Kimmy goes through after her release. The show uses comedy to approach a normally taboo topic: rape. Though it is never explicitly stated that Kimmy was sexually assaulted, the details slowly add up. Using humor to discuss really hard, serious topics like rape is not necessarily always a bad thing; rather, it shows that as women’s lives and opinions become more valued in modern society, so to will their narratives- some of which inevitably will include sexual assault.
While the main cast of the show is fairly strong, the supporting cast has a tendency to be weak and fall flat. Such is the case with Kimmy’s stepfather, an absentminded state trooper, portrayed by Tim Blake Nelson. While Nelson portrays the character humorously, he is given insufficient material to make the character into something worthwhile.
The character Dong, played by Ki Hong Lee, is another example. He is just the standard Asian stereotype, newly immigrated to the United States and dedicated to his studies.
Though the show does make some notable jokes about racial treatment— the news report that airs when the “Indiana mole women” are found reads “white women found” with the subtitle of “Hispanic woman also found” — its treatment of minority characters ultimately leaves much to be desired.
The show is an enjoyable experience, though. With a strong cast and well-written jokes, Tina Fey is able to deliver another show that is capable of following the extremely strong “30 Rock.” Its unique method of addressing otherwise unspoken subjects helps spotlight social issues such as gender inequality.
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