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.
One of 30 Rock’s most memorable episodes is season three’s “Jackie Jormp-Jomp,” where Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) gets suspended from work due to an errant sexual harassment accusation. Bored without her job to distract her, she starts hanging out with a group of women in her building who appear to do nothing but drink white wine, have lunch, and get manicures and massages. As enticed as Liz is by this leisurely lifestyle, she soon discovers that it hides a dark side, as these women all participate in a Fight Club to stay sharp, otherwise their brains will turn to mush.
“Kimmy Has A Playdate!” highlights Jacqueline’s return to New York after leaving her Sioux tribe, and her subsequent efforts to crack New York society through the moms at Buckley’s school. (Thank god this show remembered that Jaqueline has a kid.) The ponytailed blondes drinking bloody marys bring to mind nothing but Liz Lemon’s Fight Club, alongside queen bee Deirdre’s subsequent efforts to use her Princeton poli sci degree to torture Jacqueline because her considerable mental strength has been reduced to picking out dog stationary.
Besides seeing Buckley again (he’s gotten so tall!), we also get the tremendous the return of Xan. The back-and-forth between Kimmy and Xan was an absolute highlight of season one, so it’s nice to have her back, at least briefly, as she also helps underline the episode theme set up by Jacqueline and Deirdre. Jacqueline is so concerned with how she’s perceived, she tosses most of her settlement on an $11.5-million painting. Kimmy is devastated when she learns what a villain she is to Xan, so she finds a way to help the girl by effectively ruining her childhood home for her so she won’t miss it as much. Last episode was about who we are underneath; this one is about how other people perceive us.
The B-plot trails this along, as Lillian and Titus try to sell his extra clothes (unfortunately any Titus and Lillian escapades will pale forever and into the future when compared to the Pinot Noir video), but again, perceptions are off. An indie troupe (containing a member who looks a lot like a just-out-of-college Tina Fey) wants to use his clothes for various skits. To them, his treasure is garbage, but this effort gets a sharp uptick when it leads to Titus running into Mikey the construction worker again. Their interaction where Titus gives Mikey his number is super-sweet, and Titus is way too fabulous to be single for too long.
As is Kimmy, but she appears to dismiss Dong here to the Christmas store clerk (too perfect, where else should Kimmy work but a Christmas store?) by shrugging off her efforts to kiss a married man. She may be a lollipop with a question mark on the wrapper, but a soldier fighting against the War On Christmas looks like a good first step for Kimmy Schmidt.
- “Even though I haven’t seen my mother in years” seems like too big a future plotline to drop. The line for casting suggestions for Kimmy’s mom forms in the comments.
- Kimmy doesn’t get it: The “trays of free floor food” in the hotel the Today show put her in were leftover room service trays.
- Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pop-culture references: Pilates-Stella McCartney-vegan-ankle-boot detox, the Rem Koolhaas/R.E.M. Coolhouse. The DVDs getting dumped in the thrift shop were all Jeremy Piven drumming instruction videos: Own The Skins.
- Kimmy non-swears: From Jacqueline, actually: “You shut your wet mouth!”
- Unbreakable guest spot: Anna Camp does a bang-up job as queen bee Deirdre, looking effortless in yoga clothes, and genuinely confused by whether she’s being malicious or not.
- Spot-on signage: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles finally offers a pop-culture reference Kimmy can get behind, as a ’90s sensation that inexplicably returned a few decades later (even Kimmy is like, “Really?”). After singing “turtles on the half shell, turtle power,” Kimmy notes that “whoever wrote that songs should have a billion dollars,” as the camera then cuts to a painting that reads “Chuck Lorre wrote this song,” referring to the Two And A Half Men creator. Also a box marked “Playdate Wine” for Jacqueline and Deirdre’s chat in the park.
- Kimmy cartoon-character outfit: The elf costume, natch.