Straight out of an apocalyptic chamber, it’s a crazy mother-lover named Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (aka K.W.A). Created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, the latest series from Netflix stars Ellie Kemper (The Office) as a woman coping with Big Apple life after emerging from a 15-year hibernation. In other words, she was kidnapped in the 8th grade by Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (excellent creep name), lived underground with three women and was reintroduced to society through an auto-tuned interview ala Antoine Dodson. Kimmy’s armed with precise knowledge of The Babysitter’s Club book series but not too familiar with how the modern woman lives.
The fish-out-of-water premise of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt allows Kemper to light up the screen with her “aww shucks” Midwest demeanor, and her clothing game matches her bright personality. Despite a rather devastating background, Kimmy offers positive life reinforcements to posturing characters she meets in New York City, especially her gay roommate known as Titus Andromedon. Together, they dance the night away (“Club Bombay from Moesha!”), although an early morning robbery leaves colorful Kimmy broke and nowhere to go. Just when you think Times Square Titus will kick her to the curb, he busts out his origin story, which sets the stage for a noisy “Circle of Life” performance (think The Umbrellas of Cherbourg featuring a flamboyant superhero).
Kemper’s a joy to watch, and “Kimmy Goes Outside!” establishes the framework for a potentially iconic character. Although a heavy dose of cheesy Kimmy smiles might eventually put some to sleep, the writers allow Kemper room to show off a sexy side (“dancing’s about the butt now!”) and her physical comedy. The jokes make sense for the first episode, but hopefully Kemper will have fresh material moving forward rather than a collection of pop culture mixups. With a screwball style of comedy, she’ll need another legitimately hilarious character to work with.
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