Sunday, June 4, 2017

MTVP Binges Out: "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" Season 3

Netflix released the third season of Tina Fey’s masterpiece “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” last month and naturally, I’ve watched the whole season already. Kimmy’s perseverance and enthusiasm for life in the face of adversity and a troubled past is addictive, and once you watch one episode, it’s hard to stop. Last season involved some heavy stuff, with Kimmy seeking therapy and confronting the failures of her mother. This season was more pure fun, although there were some more poignant moments when Kimmy had to figure out how much of her past she was okay with other people knowing. Kimmy has reached the point where, since she’s feeling more comfortable in the world outside the Bunker, she’s trying to figure out what’s next for her life. She wants the education and career that the Reverend denied her, but the road to achieving that is going to be difficult.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s the breakdown of what’s what in the world of Kimmy Schmidt. Kimmy was one of the Indiana Mole Women – she was kidnapped as a teenager and lived in a bunker with a few other women for fifteen years before she was rescued. Once rescued, she moved to New York City, where she lives were her fabulous roommate Titus Andromedon (their landlady, Lillian, played by the great Carol Kane, is pretty fabulous too), and she’s been trying to figure out how to live her life ever since. In the first season, she worked as a nanny for a wealthy woman named Jaqueline (Jane Krakowski), but now Jaqueline is no longer married and is just a friend to Kimmy. Kimmy went on quite the journey in the first few seasons, just trying to learn to live on her own in the first season, and dealing with lingering issues with her mother and her experience in the bunker in the second season. Whatever challenges life throws her way, however, Kimmy tries to approach it with positivity and a kill ‘em with kindness attitude that I admire. If she can still be enthusiastic about life after being abused in a bunker for fifteen years, then we all can!

This season juggled several interesting plots. There was the mystery of what happened to Titus while he was working on a cruise ship. There was Jaqueline’s continuing efforts to get the Washington Redskins to change their name (spoiler alert: by the end of the season, they’re the Washington Gun-Takers!). That particular plot went full-on “While You Were Sleeping,” which I appreciated, considering “While You Were Sleeping” is one of my favorite rom coms. It was Bill Pullman and Sandra Bullock at their 90s best! Kimmy decides she wants to try going to college, so she has adventures related to that (and a career test that says her ideal job is crossing guard).

The highlight of the season for me was the presence of Daveed Diggs as Perry, a love interest for Kimmy that doesn’t quite go anywhere. Diggs won a Tony award for playing the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the original Broadway cast (and the Off-Broadway cast, too!) of “Hamilton.” He’s known for his incredibly fast rapping, both in the “Hamilton” song “Guns and Ships” and with the hip hop group clipping. In this show, Perry meets Kimmy when she’s touring what looks to be a scammy, for-profit college, and he tells her he’s transferring to Columbia. When Kimmy (spoiler alert) gets to go to Columbia, too, they get to know each other better. They have a brief falling out when Perry tells Kimmy that he’s studying theology and wants to be a Reverend, but they end up working out their issues. Perry is charming, and Diggs has impeccable comic timing. I enjoyed the chemistry between Perry and Kimmy, and I think the storyline worked rather well.

My favorite episode of the season, unsurprisingly (or at least it will be once I describe it a bit) is the sixth episode of the season, called “Kimmy is a Feminist!” There are two main plots going on, both of which are highly entertaining. And it’s one of the three episodes of the season to feature Daveed Diggs (see, told you it wouldn’t be a surprise). Kimmy and Perry are both studying at Columbia at that point, and Perry is also working in the student bookstore and as a bus driver to make ends meet. Kimmy doesn’t have that problem, but I’ll keep the reason why a surprise. Kimmy goes out for a night of partying with some of her newfound college friends, where she encounters Perry several times, and they bond over basically being “too old for this shit.” Of course, as I already mentioned, they hit a snag when Perry reveals his vocational ambitions. But Diggs and Ellie Kemper have great comedic chemistry together. Meanwhile, Jaqueline enlists Titus and Lillian’s help to get her through a romantic evening with her comatose brother’s husband (I told you they went full-on “While You Were Sleeping). The cast milked that situation for all the comedy they possibly could.

Hovering over the whole season, however, is the continued (understandable) trauma that her fifteen years in the bunker has caused Kimmy. The Reverend wants to get married, but it turns out that he’s already marrie to Kimmy thanks to a situation where Kimmy was trying to save one of her sister wives. Kimmy goes back and forth on what to do about the situation: how much compassion to show the Reverend’s intended and how difficult to make the Reverend’s life. She equivocates for so long, though, that she only ends up hurting herself again. Her marriage to the Reverend keeps her from reaching one of her dreams. Additionally, she’s not prepared for the reality, in the Internet age, of having control over who knows her story and when. She gets very upset when she finds out that many of her classmates Googled her and figured out she’s an Indiana Mole Woman. Since they’re all going to find out anyway, she almost agrees to go on a campus talk show about it, but she backs out at the last minute. Kimmy’s past is still very much affecting her present, but she’s determined to not let it affect her future or her sunny disposition.

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