Monday, December 2, 2019

Thanksgiving "Classic" Recap: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: "Kimmy Finds Her Mom!"

“I’ll bring you back a real Florida souvenir. Like a python. Or a gun!”

I think Thanksgiving is the most difficult holiday to find TV episodes to recap, but this was a pretty good one. The second season finale of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” was all about avoiding, then confronting, hard truths. It also had some Thanksgiving trappings to frame everything out. This episode also really reminded me that the earlier seasons of “Kimmy Schmidt” were the product of a much simpler time, when there was room to deal with issues like the Washington football team’s offensive name or the pros and cons of gentrification. These days, there are daily embarrassments emanating from the federal government that don’t really leave room to get into much else.

Let’s start by talking a bit about the uncomfortable truths Titus must confront. He has gotten a job on a cruise ship, so he and Kimmy are on their way to Florida (more about Kimmy’s quest in the Sunshine State in a bit). He’s supposed to join the ship in Miami. After Titus and Kimmy go their separate ways, however, Titus gets cold feet. He asks for a sign that he’s supposed to go on the cruise ship, and instead, he sees a bus pull up that says “Titusville.” This takes him, of course, to the home of the Kennedy Space Center. Titus isn’t quite sure what to make of the place and its casual racism. When he has a chance to enter a drawing to have lunch with a real, live astronaut, though, he takes it. Since he and this town share a name, he is determined to make the best of it. He wins the raffle, though, and the astronaut he gets to meet changes his perspective. The astronaut explains that he never got to go to space because the manned spaceflight program ended (which is sort of true…a few American generally go to the International Space Station using Russian Soyuz rockets each year). Titus finds this rather pathetic and surprising, and he uses it as fuel to go back to chasing his real dreams, which are on that cruise ship in Miami.

Kimmy was in Florida hoping to find her mother. She knows her mother is a huge coasterhead, and there is a particular coaster at Universal that she and her friends were going to be riding. Kimmy has a lot of unresolved issues with her mother (namely, wondering why her mother wasn’t able to rescue her from the Reverend and why she hasn’t contacted her since she was found), and she’s ready to say it all out loud. When Kimmy does find her mother at the amusement park, however, her plans get thrown for a bit of a loop. Kimmy’s mom, played by the always funny Lisa Kudrow, immediately owns up to being a less than ideal mother, and she apologizes, which is not something Kimmy expected. Kimmy hadn’t really thought about how her kidnapping would be tough on her mom, too (she had to leave Indiana because everyone expected her to be sad all the time), so she goes along with her mom’s glossing everything over for a while.

There’s an especially poignant moment when Kimmy’s mom yells at her to get out of the ball pit because it’s almost time for them to ride the big roller coaster, and Kimmy gets held up because the Velcro on her shoe comes undone. Kimmy’s mom never taught her how to tie her shoes, and on another occasion when she had to stop walking to fix her Velcro, Kimmy got kidnapped. Anyway, Kimmy and her mom end up screaming out all their issues to each other while on the coaster, which is really kind of perfect. Kimmy doesn’t really end up seeing her mom’s side of things (Kimmy was genuinely hurt by her mom’s actions growing up), but she does decide not to let it define her. She tells her mom they’re cool, and Lori-Ann Schmidt leaves happy. Before she leaves, she does offer one interesting tidbit: she likes rollercoasters so much because you can scream your head off and nobody looks at you funny. I thought that was profound (and sad) in a way.

The story of Lillian’s fight against gentrification also comes to a climax in this episode. She is feeling very lonely with Kimmy and Titus off to Florida and Jaqueline spending time with Russ. She notices just how much the neighborhood has changed, with mom’s running along with their strollers down the sidewalk with abandon. She decides to put the house up for sale as “3 BR 0 LGL BA” because of course. I thought that was such a funny little detail. Instead of a buyer, though, a political operative knocks on the door wanting Lillian to run for office. I don’t remember where this plot thread goes in the next season, but part of me wants to rewatch season three to remember.

Finally, Jaqueline is spending Thanksgiving with Russ and his family. She is all set to impress him with her apartment that she can’t really afford. At first, she really gets along with Russ’s brother, Duke, played by the always snobbishly charming Josh Charles. She also gets to see first hand how horribly Russ is treated by his family – he is constantly the subject of their crude jokes. Everything changes, though, when Jaqueline realizes that Russ’ family are the owners of Washington’s football team. Being Native American herself, Jaqueline is quite offended by this. The Snyders won’t hear of changing the name, though, even when Jaqueline explains exactly why she finds it offensive. She’s about to tell Russ she needs to break up with him, but he explains that he actually agrees with her and fully supports her quest to take down Washington’s football team.

The episode ends with a little Friendsgiving scene between Kimmy, Jaqueline, Lillian, and Titus (who appears via video chat), which ties a nice little bow on everything. Then Kimmy gets a call from none other than the Reverend himself. He says he’s getting married, so he needs to get a divorce from Kimmy first. This is quite the twist and makes for some interesting storytelling in the next season. Until next time, I hope you all ate too much on Thursday and enjoyed time with family. Happy Thanksgiving!

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