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.
It makes sense that Tina Fey would somehow find a way to insert herself into her most famous creation since 30 Rock, past the Marcia Clark parody last season. As the show has been carefully and systematically building up to Kimmy’s revelations about her past, Fey steps up in the pivotal role of Andrea, Kimmy’s eventual therapist. And obviously, one who has a lot of problems of her own.
Fey basically plays two versions of the same person: Day Andrea (a therapist) and Night Andrea (the drunk lady of the episode title). Fey’s depiction of the drunk is spot-on enough to be borderline disturbing, but I especially like how these characters are treated like two separate people (says Day Andrea of Night Andrea: “Isn’t she awful?”) But even Night Andrea s a savvy enough therapist to immediately zero in on Kimmy’s problem: She’s an enabler, who’s hiding her feelings, which are manifesting in her smelly burps. Kimmy needs to come to terms with all of this, so what better way than in various sessions with Andrea? The montage of racked-up Kimmy violence against Titus, Dong, and even Billy Eichner, proves that even though she thinks she’s got it going on, she can’t get there until she deals with the past.
In a nice, although, transparent metaphor, Titus also finds what he wants by plowing through previous years. Titus has absorbed some of Kimmy’s ’90s-ness, into a world where cassette towers are no longer sold at the Best Buy. I like that his first effort didn’t take (building a new tower), so, like Kimmy, he is forced to dig through the past, until they both find what they’re looking for.
Grade: A. This is a pivotal episode for Kimmy getting in touch with her feelings, but perhaps the best part is that it’s scored by “hits” from the Now That Sounds Like Music! compilation from the Columbia Record And Tape Club. All of these parodies were spot-on, and hilarious, adding a necessary dose of mirth to what could have been a much darker episode: Shanson’s “Yumbip,” Dusk Mountie’s “Brother Baptist,” The Error Car Man’s “I’m Freaking Out, “ “Hiking On Sunrise” by Kartuna And The Wigs, culminating in Art Smelly’s “I’m Convinced I Can Swim,” from the soundtrack to the movie Earth Jelly. I’m so glad Tina Fey’s husband is a music director, because Jeff Richmond’s contributions to this season have been nothing less than stellar.
- “When the drums kick in, it all will change for you.”
- My gym has these workout soundtracks that include songs like “Hurts So Good,” but not the actual people singing them, so it almost sounds like John Mellencamp, but not quite.
- Interestingly, unlike all the other episodes so far, this just focused on Kimmy, Titus, and Fey’s Andrea. There wasn’t even a Lillian ducking her head into the apartment.
- Kimmy doesn’t get it: She and Titus previously got in a fight because she didn’t know who “Idris Elbow” was.
- Kimmy non-swears: “What the huh?” Possibly a callback to Liz Lemon’s classic “What the what?”
- Unbreakable guest spot: Tina Fey owns this episode. But Billy Eichner definitely took one for the team, protesting that Cate Blanchett is a treasure as he’s pummeled to the ground by Kimmy.
- Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pop-culture reference: One of Kimmy’s passengers is leaving John Mayer’s houseboat and is late for work. “No thanks to John Mayer.”
Also, Titus’ use of “You know there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” is a slam against Taylor Swift, who offered that Madeline Albright quote after Fey and Amy Poehler gave a Swift a slight dusting when they hosted the Golden Globes. Remind me never to cross Tina Fey, y’all.
- Spot-on signage: According to a sign in her office, Andrea was named one of the top 25 Therapists In New York in 2011. Which, granted, was five years ago.
- Kimmy cartoon-character outfit: Another churn-inducing color combo of red sweater with purple pants. Although props to the show for reusing some of Kimmy’s wardrobe, which hardly ever seems to happen on Tv but would make sense for someone on Kimmy’s limited budget. (Titus’ endless supply of kimonos is another story.)