Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is back and it remains a colorful, fun and off the walls show that is a true delight to watch.
As of writing this I’ve watched nine episodes. I binged them all in a row and only stopped because it was after one in the morning, I was falling asleep and I needed to get up early to write 2,000+ words, plus this article, plus walk a dog. So this review will cover the first seven episodes and I’ll be posting a part two to cover the last six in a few days.
So let’s get down to business, shall we? Obviously, SPOILERS to follow!
Let’s start with a (very) brief recap!
Kimmy is still in New York, living with Titus and underneath Lillian. She’s reuniting with Jacqueline, now divorced and struggling to reestablish her place in New York high society. She’s got a fun job in a year round Christmas shop. She’s also still in love with Dong but he’s in a green card marriage he cannot jeopardize while Titus makes a love connection he did not see coming. And finally, while the bunker may be behind her and Reverend Wayne Gary Wayne in jail, it does not mean that it’s a clean sailing and problem free life for Kimmy. Stuff that’s bottled up on simmer inevitably boils over or explodes.
So, I think I’ve been pretty clear above that I’m thoroughly enjoying the second season (after all I used words like fun and colorful)! So I’m not delving into a traditional review with this. Instead I’m breaking this down into three categories: What I’m Not Loving, What I’m Unsure About and What Is Just As Amazing As Bunny And Kitty Being Best Friends. That way we can work up from the sad stuff to the happy-bouncy stuff!
What I’m Not Loving.
- All the stuff with Jacqueline’s past as a member of the Lakota tribe. It hits every stereotype in the book. It wasn’t great in the first season but the entirety of Jacqueline’s plot in the first episode revolves around her reconnecting with her home. It’s possible the point is to point out the ridiculousness of whitewash casting but on the heels of Scarlett Johansson playing a character named Matoko Kusanagi as well as the Sleepy Hollow fiasco (not to mention The Vampire Diaries and The 100 burying their gays) it just comes across as offensive to have the very white Jane Krakowski playing a supposedly fully Lakota woman. Krakowski is a wonderful comedic actress but not even she can make this material work.
- They’re leaving a lot of great material on the table. For example, when Kimmy got the job at the Christmas store I was super excited. What hijinks would she get up to surrounded by tinsel and animatronic reindeer?! The answer: none. Because by the next time we see the Christmas shop Kimmy is getting fired. Cue my sad face. There was so much potential comedy to be mined there (at least in my mind) and it went nowhere. This seems to be a recurring theme. The episode where Jacqueline heavily medicates her son to keep him in line could be a fascinating comedic commentary on the modern kneejerk towards medication to solve problems (especially in children). It’s there but they don’t quite land the joke as it devolves into Jacqueline and her son trashing a high end clothing store. It’s funny but doesn’t allow the joke to transcend into truly clever comedy. The show is still well written, well acted and often clever but I want it to be knocking smart comedy out of the park and it just isn’t managing that.
What I’m Unsure About.
- Sam Page as Keith. Now, to be clear, I’m putting this here because I’m very split on this one. On one hand, I really loved Keith as a character and thought Sam Page played him perfectly. The fact that he made me love him when my only other point of reference for the actor is his very convincing turn as the horrible Greg Harris on Mad Men, says a great deal. But it seems he’s only in one episode and the idea of Keith and Kimmy supporting each other through their respective traumas was intriguing to me, even as a friendship rather than a romance. It was relationship I wish the show was actually putting time into exploring.
- Kimmy and Dong. So here’s the thing. I really like Kimmy and Dong. They make an adorable couple and both actors are wonderful and really shine in their scenes. Now if only their material wasn’t so damn repetitive. Almost every scene hits the same beats. They like each other. But they can’t act on it because Dong needs his green card. It ends with them sad. And as good as the actors are, it can be very boring when you’re fairly certain you know how the scene is going to end, at least emotionally, from the moment it starts. Hopefully the season finds a way to turn this around!
- The whole commentary about Titus’ one man show about his past life as a geisha and internet trolls. It’s done with commitment but their point gets muddled along the way and given the show already has a big racial problem with Jacqueline’s background this one leaves me unsettled.
What Is Just As Amazing As Bunny And Kitty Being Best Friends.
- This show is amazing with keep its supporting cast from the previous season in rotation. The return of Gretchen, the little we’ve gotten of Cindy Pokorny and even Jacqueline’s ridiculous dog are all great moments that keep the world feeling consistent. Hell, they even bring back the librarian and her feud with Titus as well as Mikey (more on him later)!
- Speaking of holdovers from the previous season. Lillian’s continuing campaign against gentrification is wonderful.
- The main foursome. Seriously, though. These four are positively amazing. Jane Krakowski, despite some of her material being problematic, is a fantastic comedic actress who is tearing into this part with gusto. Tituss Burgess mines every bit of hilarity out of each little word and expression, turning lines and moments that might have just earned a chuckle into guffaw worthy comedic genius. Ellie Kemper is wonderful; giving charm, wonder and naiveté to a role that could so easily fall into the territory of saccharine and annoying. And then we have Carol Kane who is an absolute legend and that’s all I’m going to be able to say about her because I’m literally cracking up in front of my computer just at the thought of her performance.
- Mikey. OMG I LOVE MIKEY HE IS ADORABLE AND GAY AND FANTASTIC. And I’m super happy to see them giving plenty of attention to Titus and Mikey as a couple. In fact, they’ve gotten more solid relationship attention than even Kimmy and Dong. I love Mikey so much, the scene where he and Titus are in line for a gay club on their first date and the bouncer is horrible to him took me twenty minutes to watch because I had to keep pausing and walking away because it literally made me want to cry. As a gay man, I’ve encountered that sort of attitude before and it was just a bit too visceral for me to handle except in tiny doses. It’s to their credit. They’ve created a character I care that much about. I squeal with joy every time Mikey shows up on screen cause he’s just so darn wonderful.
- Anna Camp as Deirdre Robbespierre. I loved Anna Camp from the first time I saw her on True Blood. And her turn in Pitch Perfect only served to cement that. Hell, I even loved her performance in that one episode of Ground Floor she popped up in. As Deirdre she is thinly veiled manic boredom and insanity, a vastly intelligent woman whose intellect has not been utilized in years. Her joy at the challenge of dueling for gala guests with Jacqueline is wonderful and her breakdown where she alternates between manic laughter and tears had me in stitches.
- Kimmy as an Uber driver. Enough said.
- Daddy’s Boy references. PLUS an entire episode dedicated to random ass forgotten showtunes!
So that’s what I’ve got so far. Apologies if anything from episodes 8 and 9 bled over into any of the above. I think I managed to keep it clear in my head what was when but one of the downsides of binging is everything sort of blends together.
I’ll be back in a few days with the second half of the season! And then we can all hunker down to wait for the already announced season three.
EDIT: Read Part Two!