“Kimmy Goes On A Date!” begins with Kimmy waking up from a nightmare to find herself strangling Titus. It turns out she has been having a lot of nightmares since leaving the bunker, so Kimmy tries to work through some of her issues, afraid that she’ll never be normal.
Underneath the jokes, there’s some really depressing stuff going on for Kimmy. Feeling like she needs to talk to someone about her experiences—other than herself—she tells Siri she is one of the mole women. Siri’s response: “That’s messed up.” So not even that jerk Siri will listen to her. Finally, she finds someone to talk to when Jacqueline sets her up with a very old but very rich bachelor. On their lunch date, Kimmy realizes Grant Belden thinks he’s still in the war and also feeds treats to an invisible dog. She can tell him anything she wants to, and he won’t judge or even remember. It works as a temporary fix, but Grant Belden isn’t exactly the key to letting Kimmy work through the things that have happened to her. But the writers are showing that there’s no linear or easy process for Kimmy to adjust to life above ground. And that’s some very real stuff.
Again, the Titus subplot this episode isn’t very strong, comedically or story-wise. When Lillian catches Titus in a fancy suit for his headshots and assumes he has enough money to pay her back, he lies and tells her he’s going to a funeral. The two end up crashing a stranger’s funeral, where Titus sings “I’ll Make Love To You” by Boyz II Men. Okay yes, that visual alone is quite funny. But there really isn’t that much here. I hope we start to see more interaction between Titus and Kimmy outside of the apartment. Separating their plots seems like a disservice when Titus is the best secondary character in Kimmy’s world right now.
Which brings us to Jacqueline. The episode focuses in on Jacqueline Voorhees in an attempt to further develop her character, but it ends up just making things a bit more confusing. We learn in flashback that Jacqueline is Native American and that she dyed her hair blonde, got blue contacts, and rejected her family and culture because she felt the only way to succeed in life was to become white. Now, thematically this all works. Jacqueline insists that Kimmy’s past doesn’t matter, because she herself has escaped her past and rewritten herself.
Now, even though there are some great moments from guest star Gil Birmingham, these flashbacks gave me pause. As a mixed race and often white-passing person myself, pretending to be white is a reality I’m all too familiar with. But Kimmy Schmidt doesn’t seem like the right show to tackle that. Or, more accurately, the very white Jane Krakowski doesn’t seem like the right actor to tell this story. It’s a whitewashed plot about whitewashing. And it just feels off. Krakowski should not be playing a Native American character, even one who has decided to pretend to be white.
If this backstory was included to show that Jacqueline, like Titus and Kimmy, also has a complicated past that led her to redefine herself, couldn’t it have been achieved pretty easily without changing the actor’s race? Couldn’t Jacqueline simply just have not come up in the extremely wealthy class that she now belongs to? “Why does it matter where I’m from? It’s where I’m going that counts,” Jacqueline asks. Sure, yes. That seems to be the character’s central philosophy. But we probably could have gotten there in a different, less whitewashy way.
- “This isn’t the Chinatown bus. You can’t just jump someone who’s sleeping!”
- “People love hearing terrible details of news tragedies. 1. It’s titillating like a horror movie. 2. It makes them feel like a good person because they care about a stranger. 3. It makes people feel safe that it did not happen to them.”
- “So anybody want coffee—I’m off to an A.A. meeting.” I’m still trying to parse out how Lillian fits in all this, but for what it’s worth, I laughed out loud out this.
- “Barbie shoes aren’t weird, Lillian.”
- Xanthippe’s middle name is Lannister, naturally.