If you didn’t sing that to the catchy af theme song of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”, that likely means that you don’t watch it, which definitely means that you are missing out ON LIFE. This show, from Tina Fey and a guy my brother knows, had one of the funniest first seasons for a sitcom, full stop (look I’m British now). Sure, Season 1 had its low points (the whole trial b.s. and the Native American stuff), but its high points were so high it all averaged out to be above average. So good at math. This goofy show makes viewers so happy. Lucky for the world, so in need of more happiness, season 2 is out today!
So, quick recap: Kimmy Schmidt is the true adorkable television heroine of our time, played to silly and ridiculous perfection by Ellie Kemper, the redhead from “The Office” and “Bridesmaids” whose last name for some reason I really really want to keep saying/actually do keep saying as “Kempner” for no apparent reason. Did I go to camp with a Kempner? Do you know? Can you see me? Kimmy is this totally naïve, sheltered gal from the Midwest whooooo was kept as an unwitting hostage by a crazy doomsday cult leader (Jon Hamm) in an underground bunker for the last 15 years. Finally freed, she has a lot to comprehend (for starters, that the world didn’t end) with the knowledge, awareness, and social skills of a tween. But it’s a comedy. She moves to NYC, the perfect place for her blind trust and total innocence, and finds an apartment owned by Carol Kane’s landlord Lilian, with the most incredible roommate maybe in television history, Tituss Burgess’s Titus Andromedon. (Real name 2 s’s (esses?), fake name 1. Actually, real name 4 s’s/esses.) And, she gets a job as a nanny for a rich beeyotchamaphone named Jacqueline Voorhees, a role I assume was written specifically for Jane Krakowski because she is red underlined 100 emoji. Titus, on the other hand, is the red 100 emoji surrounded by 10 flame balls on each side. His role was indeed written for him. I love how much he saaaaaaaaaaaaang in season 1! Let’s see what happens next!
EPISODE 1: Kimmy Goes Roller Skating
Should we start with the best or the worst? I like to do crap first and then think happy thoughts, but I’m still laughing at the good parts of this premiere, so let’s start there.
Lilian is on board as Kimmy’s wingman after the sadness of Dong, so that means we got a lot more Lilian onscreen than usual. Although Carol Kane still hasn’t had the opportunity to scream that anyone is a “LIARRRRRRRRRRR!”, this change is very welcome. My favorite parts were a) when she and Kimmy stopped into the Grim Dollar Store (actual name, nice) and she said to Kimmy “I’ll be in intimates”; b) her outfit for their date night – Frankie Says Relax tee and insane tutu; and c) talking about her golden spaghetti hair and how it will attract men. She is so damn winning. She was actually funnier than Titus this episode, at least in terms of speaking parts. Titus still made the best faces, but this episode made him unlikable for most of it. Yeah, that was so his apology/redemption at the end was more satisfying, but still: non-singing, mean Titus? Hard pass.
In the Dollar Store, Kimmy runs into Dong and tries to act super uninterested and confident, but of course it’s fake and funny. So fast and easy to miss this great line:
Dong: So nice to see you!
Kimmy: I’d like that.
But then Dong WINS the episode when he shares that his English has improved because he’s been watching “Keeping up with the Kardashians”, which he proves when Kimmy says “It’s working,” and he responds, “Awww, you’re sweeeet” exactly like a Kardashian, complete with the trailing off vocal fry at the end. DIED. It was only topped when Kimmy invited him roller skating and he responded, also in the Kardashian voice, “So yeah, that sounds amaaaazing.” It was!!
Proving that she deserves an Emmy nomination too, Ellie Kemper is so flinging flanging great as Kimmy that I can’t really tell if she’s acting or if she is playing herself. She makes every face and delivers every line exactly right. Only she could make Kimmy’s angry “Well fudge that sugar! Fudge it to heck!” as hilarious as it was.
Wait, I take it back about Dong winning. He came close. The real winners were the tiny tiny role of Amtrak train conductor and whoever wrote this incredible exchange about Amtrak’s true purpose. I can’t rob you of the joy that comes from watching it by showing the text here, so here’s the video, omg.
I really am still crying at this. Maybe you had to have ridden Amtrak thousands of times throughout your East Coast life to appreciate it, but man alive this will be hard to beat.
Titus, though not at his character-best this episode, had a freaking dance number at the end, on a train platform, with his ex-wife. How this was not a showstopper moment is beyond me! What a wasted opportunity! My dancing is funnier than theirs was! And he could have sung something, anything.
So much time was dedicated to Jacqueline’s time with her Native American family and how she is messing everything up because she doesn’t fit in, and honestly this stuff is not any better than it was last season. It seems offensive and really it’s not funny at all. I just don’t get it. Honestly, you could fast forward through those parts and not lose anything. Get Jane back in NYC being a terrible person and a terrible step-mother to Some Hippie pronto!
Why, oh god why, does every single sitcom in the history of the world (2010s) hire Fred Armisen as a guest star? Mallory Ortberg, maybe (probably) (definitely) the smart-funniest person in the world, has a famous (at least on twitter/to her disciples) TV Rule:
“every great comedy will have one nearly-unbearable episode where Fred Armisen guest-stars as an unfunny man with a godawful accent.” – M. Ortberg
Both the main storylines – Titus’s and Jacqueline’s – are whatever, not exactly inspired new ground for sitcoms, but they result in some hysterical dialogue. Even better – Jacqueline having to clear out the townhouse so it can be sold means Xanthippe is back!! Her very first moments were my favorite:
Xan, seeing Kimmy in her house: What are YOU doing here?
Kimmy, trying to act cool: Being in a stupid-face contest and coming in SECOND!
Kimmy and Xan’s interactions are my favorite because Xan tries SO hard to hate Kimmy, and Kimmy does everything she can to make a girl like Xan hate her, but you can tell they like each other. And Kimmy unfailingly says the dumbest, most amazing stuff to her, like the above, to which Xan can only shake her head in disbelief.
The sale of the townhouse and Jacqueline’s new apartment search leads to another fantastic scene, this time between Kimmy and Jacqueline. During their first encounter in the apartment, Kimmy pulls this amazingness:
Kimmy: “Mrs. Voorhees…wait, you’re divorced….What do I call you now, Mrs. Voorhers??”
Only Ellie Kemper can say crap like this and make it so freaking funny. But even better is when Jacqueline is looking at apartment listings, complaining about how all the plus-million-dollar apartments are either too expensive or are utter crap, leading to my favorite line of this episode, which I’m going to share in video form because it’s too good:
I also loved in this scene how Kimmy says “drinks at the Ramada.” It’s so random and nothing but she says the words in a weird accent that made it so funny!
The other Kimmy line that made me laugh hysterically happened after getting the job at the Christmas store, when she was dressed as an elf walking down the street. She says to herself,“Oh no, those Santas must be coming from a funeral” – and the camera cuts to two Orthodox Jews as she says “I’m sorry for your loss.” I cackled.
I didn’t love the whole plot of Jacqueline trying to impress Anna Camp by putting on billionaire airs, but that’s just because Jacqueline is the best when she’s the worst person on that screen. Putting her in a vulnerable position hurts the character, I think, because she’s supposed to be a caricature, not someone you feel bad for. But I can’t really fault a storyline that led to Jacqueline, her son, and Kimmy getting into a random man’s Bentley in front of Anna Camp, and then CRAWLING over the stunned man in the backseat in order to escape through the other side, out of Anna’s view. That was some absolute GOLD physical comedy. More please!
As for Titus, he is thank goodness back to his good old self, shrieking after his closet bar collapses and explaining “Much like Icarus, a friend of mine who put too much stuff in his closet, I put too much stuff in my closet!” His plotline of taking some of his lesser worn clothes (his culottes that also double as teddy bear clothes, his outfit from when Mickey Mouse-ing was a thing in the gay community) to a thrift store was kind of forced, but like Jacqueline’s above, it allowed for hilarity. My favorite Titus line was when he looked around the cluttered, dirty thrift store and said:
Titus: “My clothes will be plucked from this hell-hole like so many Orphans Annie.”
Titus also had a little surprise treat at the end, when it turned out that the person who took his clothes from the garbage was a hot construction worker who came out to him years ago! They bond over how hard it is to put yourself out there, and how hard it is for the construction worker to hide his true self at work. The best best best part of this segment was when the man said he had to fake being one of the guys by putting a picture of a hot girl on the back of his truck. Cut to his slamming the door so we see the decal of freaking TILDA SWINTON in a glamour shot. So funny!
Lilian’s best line? Her same best line from Episode 1!!! When she and Titus go back to the thrift store, she says, “I’ll be in intimates.” Ridiculous thing to repeat but I love it!
The very first line of the episode was a bummer, as it was Kimmy assuming that a man was a woman, and she’s corrected, and that’s the joke. So lame and such outdated humor, like an unoriginal vegan joke. It would have been excused as a one off but then they repeated it! Argh why! Thankfully, this terrible interaction led to Kimmy’s telling the ‘inspiring’ story of a reindeer named Rudolph, with the kind of optimism and genuine belief that only she could muster.
What did you think about the first two back? I hope the rest of the season keeps up the standard set by #2!!