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.
(We made it! Thirteen episodes. Thanks for your patience while I’ve been getting these up.)
I was unspoiled going into this binge, but the clues about Kimmy’s mom did rack up fairly quickly, so it’s not surprising that this is how this season would end. Kimmy had to come to terms with her mother, and why she has such an abiding fear of Velcro. Turns out, it was that shoe stumble that got her kidnapped in the first place. Her mom Lori-Ann, wonderfully played by Lisa Kudrow, wasn’t the best mother in the world, and the revelation that Kimmy had to pack her mother’s lunches offers valuable insight into why Kimmy always tries to take care of everyone. Yes, it’s disappointing that her mother left Durnsville without finding her, but she may be telling the truth when she says that she did the best she could. The problem is, sometimes, that’s just not good enough. Kimmy now has to learn how to accept that, and while she may not be there already, she knows what she has to do. It’s a nice throwback to Keith’s comment mid-season that she’ll never get those 15 Christmases back, as we opened the season with her trying to do just that. The show started, actually, with Kimmy moving on right after the bunker, leaving her hometown; now, she has to do it emotionally, on a whole new level.
The startling revelation at the end of the episode—She’s married to the Reverend?—already sets up that she’ll have another tough road to tackle next season. But Kimmy has come so far, and has such solid friendships surrounding her, even this out-and-out shocking discovery bodes well for season three.
It’s nice that the season ended with Jacqueline, Lillian, and Kimmy all together (with a tape of Titus). Lillian also gets her new opportunity, possibly going political to save her neighborhood. In another surprising turn of events, Jacqueline may be able to avenge her family after all, by finally getting rid of the antiquated sports name the Redskins. And in another nice throwback to the beginning of the season, Titus again runs away in fear (just like he did from Vonda), then finds the courage to go back and embrace the gig he wants most in the world.
I immediately want to go back and rewatch this, to catch all the off-handed references and one-liners that were too quick for me to catch in the first go-round. Like I’ve said, this show is out-and-out hilarious (the grandma puppet, the counterfeit painting that looks nothing like the original, Amy Sedaris shouting, “I did it!”) and many shows would just settle for that. Instead, Kimmy Schmidt gave us deep, dark explorations of psyche and aspirations, woven around an irrepressible heroine who we can’t help but root for. The writing is key, but Ellie Kemper’s performance puts this show over the top, as Kimmy is never afraid to dive right in, keep moving forward, and hope for the best, even when everything else in the world is telling her otherwise.
Season Finale Grade: A-
Season Grade: A-. I was probably having the most fun in the thick of it mid-season around Jacqueline’s apartment, with Amy Sedaris and failed galas and, especially, a series of inspired musical numbers, from Broadway takeoffs to sendups of ’80s music. MVP this season: Music director Jeff Richmond.
- I need to go back and re-watch the trial from season one, but doesn’t Kimmy says that she was running away from home when she met the Reverend? Here she just seemed to be coming home from school.
- Gotta admit, I always loved Titus, but I really came around on the Lillian love this season, as Carol Kane was always nothing sort of riveting. Keeping with Kimmy Schmidt’s sub-theme of Native Americans in popular culture, the opposite take on the Native-American-crying-over-trash commercial was brilliant.
- Kimmy doesn’t get it: She thinks Spongebob Squarepants is Cheese Businessman.
- Kimmy non-swears: Apparently inherited from her mother: “Oh my gah!”
- Unbreakable guest spots: Josh Charles is wonderful at playing snooty rich types, both here and in Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp. And Lisa Kudrow captures the wonderment and fun that is Kimmy alongside a necessary hardened edge (and horrible grammar) that her mother would have. There was a lot of buildup to playing Kimmy’s long-lost mother, but Kudrow pulled it off.
- Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pop-culture references: Still in the ’90s mindset, Kimmy’s Jamaican name is “A-Terrence A-Trent A-D’Arby.”
- Spot-on signage: “‘House’ for sale by ‘Owner’ / 3 BR 0 legal BA,” which explains a lot about Lillian’s bathroom habits.
- Kimmy cartoon-character outfit: The fact that all those people wanted to get a picture taken with Kimmy in Florida only proves how much she dresses like a cartoon character. But I really liked her fox sweater at the end of the episode.
- Just leaving this here: