‘Kimmy Schmidt’ offers a bright first season


For the past year, I have been watching “Parks and Recreation” on Netflix. It has not taken me that long to finish the series; I just watched the episodes over and over, starting over again at season one when I reached the end of the series. I never get tired of the characters, the jokes, or the town of Pawnee, Indiana, where it takes place.

Sure, Netflix would try to recommend other shows to me. There wasn’t much for it to base recommendations on, but it tried, “Portlandia,” “30 Rock,” “How I Met Your Mother.” These all teased me from my Netflix home page as I once again clicked “continue watching” on “Parks and Rec.”

This weekend, I finally broke down and decided that I needed to get out of my rut and try something new. I began watching “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” the new Netflix sitcom, created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock (“The Office”).

I heard mixed reviews of the show, but I have always liked Ellie Kemper (who plays Kimmy Schmidt) in “The Office,” and the premise of the series was just weird enough to draw me away from my usual routine.

The show begins immediately after four women are rescued from an underground bunker. They were captive for fifteen years, held by Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, who lured them to the bunker under the pretense the apocalypse was coming. The titular character, Kimmy, decides to start her life anew in New York City, where she moves in with Tituss Andromedon, an aspiring actor.

Kimmy, now 29, is full of innocence as she tries to pull her life together again. She spouts lingo from the late 90s, when she was last living outside the bunker.  Traces of her fourteen-year-old self show themselves in her everyday life. For example, during the pilot episode, she joyfully buys a pair of light-up sneakers and she wears her colorful backpack when she goes out dancing at a club with Titus.

However, this is clear: Although Kimmy is innocent and out of the loop, she is never dumb.  The title of the show speaks to this theme. Her resilience and hopeful nature give the show its charm and spunk. Kimmy decides to stay in New York, despite its challenges. She decides to rebuild her life, moving past her time in the bunker. She decides to continue her education, to give other people a chance and to stand up for herself.  Kimmy is unbreakable.

Kemper’s performance is genuine; Kimmy could easily be annoying or trite, but the conviction with which Kemper plays the part makes her believable.

The fast-paced writing of the show is nothing new for fans of Tina Fey’s creations, but it still packs a punch. The show does get some laughs from gay stereotypes and racial caricatures, which is disappointing, but with another season guaranteed, and such smart writing in the rest of the show, I am hopeful that the minority characters will be handled with more nuances in the future.

“Kimmy Schmidt” is a worthwhile show, with a strong, hopeful female protagonist and creators smart enough to turn the eerie topic of a doomsday cult into a successful first season of a sitcom.

Most impressively, it’s accomplished the task I thought impossible: ending my year-long “Parks and Recreation” marathon. Thanks to Kimmy Schmidt, I’m finally ready to explore the world of Netflix that I’ve been ignoring for so long.

The second season of “Kimmy Schmidt” is set to stream on Netflix in Spring 2016.

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