Welcome to The A.V. Club’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt binge-watch. From Friday, April 15 through Sunday, April 17, Gwen Ihnat will be watching and reviewing every episode of the Netflix sitcom’s second season. You can watch and comment along with her here, or chime in on the individual episode reviews. For those watching the show at a more moderate pace, daily reviews by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya will start running Monday, April 18.
The musical TV episode has felled (Grey’s Anatomy) as many shows as it’s elevated (Buffy The Vampire Slayer). With its impressive musical pedigree, provided by Tina Fey’s husband, musical director Jeff Richmond, as well as Broadway performers like Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt falls into the latter category, drawing from previous musical nods (“Daddy’s Boy”), as well as current sendups (a takeoff on Annie called Gangly Orphan Jeff, Stephen Sondheim’s Pinocchio), and offering an obviously thorough knowledge of musical theater.
When we’re not enjoying an unusually happy Titus’ takes on the piano, we’re also enjoying the reliance on two utility players this episode. With Kimmy lost in the obviously hopeless Dong situation, we get an inspired B-plot featuring Jacqueline and Buckley. As the instrument of Kimmy entering Jacqueline’s life in season one (or the other way around), we really haven’t seen too much of Buckley since, give or take a Ninja Turtles excursion. We also haven’t seen too many redeeming faculties to Jane Krakowski’s Jacqueline, which makes it a testament to Krakowski’s performance that we still root for her as hard as we do. This episode, refreshingly, highlights her relationship with her son. A spirited 9-year-old, Buckley falls into line after imbibing Dyziplen, just like the other Village Of The Damned kids in the medicated playground. As delightful as it is to go shoe-shopping and lunch with somebody who probably won’t break anything, Jacqueline realizes after taking the drug herself, that she’s robbing him of his joy. As much as we parents would love unlimited piece and quiet, it’s a bit disturbing when it finally happens.
Lillian is also stepping up as kind of the conscience/Greek chorus of the apartment building. Rightly pointing out to Titus how happy he is, as well as Kimmy’s Dong obsession. I love that even though she’s a bit unhinged in her own right, in many ways, she’s the sanest one on the show. She’s even on to that boyfriend of hers: “Bobby Durst came back to get his bone saws, sly devil. Maybe real devil.”
Kimmy keeps hanging on to the concept of hope, usually considered a positive trait, but is becoming an obstacle for her. Yes, hope was the only thing that kept her going in the bunker. But with Dong, hoping for him could take away two more years of her life, after she’s already missed so much time (even if “Life is long,” as it says in another great number, “Go On,” Gangly Orphan Jeff’s response to Annie’s “Tomorrow.”) Our new sage Lillian is never more spot on when she says: “The sooner you quit something that stinks, the sooner you can find something that doesn’t. Save your hope for that.”
- Sorry this binge got off to a rocky start last night, but the crack A.V. Club tech staff fixed up the comments section first thing this a.m. Thanks for your patience!
- As so many have pointed out, Fred Armisen’s Bobby is actually a version of the murderous Robert Durst from The Jinx.
- We’re getting to the point where we really are going to need a Kimmy Schmidt soundtrack, so that we can hear the unauthorized Helen Keller number “Feels Like Love” (”When it comes to love, I have to feel my way around / Is this him or a mop or a chair or a cop?”) or “A Glorious Mornng” from the black version of Oklahoma, Alabama. Even “Stoop Crone” has its moments (“Stoop crone, no loitering please / Stoop crone, your’e a bit of a sleaze.”)
- Jane Krakowski deserved more than one singing line. But I loved her story about her last trip to the drugstore.
- “Daddy’s Boy” is somehow simultaneous hilarious and straight-up disturbing.
- “That’s odd. We don’t have an anatomy skeleton in this office.”
- “A Grammy party? Is this woman insane?”
- Kimmy totally gets it: She is just like a biscotti, which everyone thinks is a sweet cookie but really it’s this hard thing that nobody really understands.
- Kimmy non-swears: From the dream train announcer/G.E.D. test administrator: “If Dong is a subway train traveling away from Kimmy at 1 trillion miles per hour, how long will you wait before you fudge up your life?”
- Unbreakable guest spot: Tanner Flood as Buckley does a great job transitioning from typical maniacal 9-year-old to medicated zombie.
- Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pop-culture reference: Dyziplen is also good for Kanye West spectrum disorder.
- Spot-on signage: The poster in the school office is the “Hang In There!” kitty with a caption that reads “Give Up On Your Dreams”
- Kimmy cartoon-character outfit: The blinding color combination of mixing a red sweater with purple pants.