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.
Although the first season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt garnered many accolades, one particular storyline rubbed some people the wrong way. By far the most contentious plot involved the revelation that blonde, blue-eyed Jacqueline was actually Native American, hiding her biological roots with contact lenses. As the season ended, she headed back to her Lakota Sioux tribe, where her at-a-loss parents soon kicked her out. The haters protested what they viewed as a stereotypical portrayal of Native Americans, where, on a meta level, the show appeared to be taking on those very stereotypes.
Guessing that this reaction struck a nerve with Tina Fey and the rest of the Kimmy Schmidt creators (the writers’ room included a few Native Americans, which helped lead to this particular plot departure), because Titus’ depiction of Murasaki, one of his past lives in which he was a geisha, becomes a target similar to what last season’s Kimmy Schmidt endured. His one-man show brilliantly mirrors the conflict inherent in putting things out there in the world, and then finding out what the internet thinks. As Sean O’Neal says, we are all just characters on the internet anyway, and while the A.V. Club comments section is usually a respectful place full of fun camaraderie, we’ve all seen how quickly things can get out of hand with a troll or two.
How can we even hope to battle these faceless, anonymous sources? Leave it to Kimmy to go out and try to get the internet to apologize. She finds the Asians united against Titus’ Kimono You Didn’t play as surly as you’d imagine, but they are soon won over by the sincerity and authenticity of Titus’ performance (and his godlike voice). You can defeat the haters, Fey has learned, with flat-out brilliance. It’s a lesson that inspires Kimmy as well, spurring on Jacqueline to stand tall against the crowd that’s spurned her. Of course, the addition of adorable Kimmy means that the crowd approvingly thinks Jacqueline’s taken on a new lifestyle with an L.L. Bean polar-fleece model, and why not? Even Lillian has a cause, trying to keep gentrifiers out of their neighborhood by adding extra graffiti in honor of Notorious B.I.G.
While Titus almost gives up before the show, just like his various past lives, he finds the inner strength to go on. Jacqueline realizes the same thing as she’s whacking both a dog and Doug with a rolled-up newspaper: Her way wasn’t working. Like Titus, she has to find the inner strength to move on. The fact that both of these players have Kimmy Schmidt in their lives (and jumping on their backs in a Kimmy attack, and trying and failing to high-five them) is much more than a happy accident.
- I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet how much I’m loving the score by Jeff Richmond (Fey’s husband), which is whimsical in the best possible way.
- Between the blonde glamazons of “Kimmy Goes On A Playdate!” (complete with Stella McCartney mention) and Jacqueline’s beauty regimen involving a helmet of bees, it looks like the show is taking more than a few stabs at Gwyneth Paltrow.
- Also, Jerry Seinfeld’s wife: “Hey, I’m the one who found the cookbook mine was based on!”
- “That’s what the internet is, just anonymous hosers criticizing geniuses.” Preach.
- Kimmy’s printout from her kimmy’sradscreenname account is from a dot-matrix printer.
- Meta-Kimmy commentary: “If you’d just watch the whole show…”
- Titus doesn’t get it: In response to a Hitler mustache on his Kimono You Didn’t poster: “They drew a Michael Jordan mustache on me!”
- Kimmy non-swears: Kimmy has to go because Jacqueline wants her “to get the duck over here,” so she goes off to Central Park, where she’s stopped by the duck police.
- Unbreakable guest spot: Amy Sedaris as Mimi, effortlessly kicking off her shoes so as not to destroy the $30,000 rug. I’m really loving Sedaris’ over-the-top portrayal.
- Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pop-culture reference: Mimi thinks Kimmy is a Jeff Koons sculpture of Ronald McDonald. She also casts off a “Turtle gets his” Entourage nod when Jacqueline enlists her as wing man.
- Spot-on signage: The computers at the library are pretty hard-core, not even permitting these: “No face journeys.”
- Kimmy cartoon-character outfit: The neon bright dress she wears to crash Jacqueline’s date-finding mission.