Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Photograph: Netflix
Rating 7.9
Streamer Netflix
Seasons 4
Episodes 1 x 25 mins

This show is the ultimate mood booster, guaranteed to bring you out of your funk and into the bright, funny world of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Which is surprising really, considering the show’s rather dark premise – the titular Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) was kidnapped as a young teenager by cult leader, Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne and locked in an underground bunker with three other women for fifteen years, with him convincing them that a nuclear apocalypse had wiped out the rest of humanity. Not particularly funny thus far, is it? Luckily both we and Kimmy get out of the bunker early on in season one, and head for the bright lights of New York City. Looking to leave her past behind after finally being freed from her underground prison, Kimmy starts afresh in the Big Apple, bumping into the kooky Lillian Kaushtupper (Carol Kane) who offers her a room in her basement apartment. And as well as coming with your standard NYC space saving designs such a shower in the kitchen – sounds quite handy for the washing up – it also comes with a camp as Christmas, aspiring (and failing) actor roommate, Titus Andromedon.

If you love a sitcom but fancy something a bit less perky and positive, try out the brilliantly deadpan Fleabag

Together they navigate life, with the unwaveringly cheerful Kimmy contrasting the lazy and cynical Titus in a hilarious celebration of perseverance and optimism, with a side serving of harsh realities on life in the city. The jokes flow thick and fast, from ridiculous Titus, Kimmy’s rich socialite boss Jaqueline (Jane Krakowski), and the flashbacks on her life in the bunker. Yep, even those scenes are drenched in warm hilarity. That’s thanks to the characters’ blissful naivety – Kimmy, who has no idea what a selfie is and whose cultural references don’t go past the 90s, Titus who genuinely believes he can make it big whilst doing the absolute least, and Jaqueline, whose dog Abattoir has been genetically engineered not to poop.

One point of contention though is the show’s handling of political events. Throughout its four seasons, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt references current affairs, and much of the time these haven’t quite hit the mark, leaving fans wondering why they bothered to mention them at all. But if you can put that to the side – which is very easily done – then this is a gloriously silly, funny series which is as powerfully positive as its lead. 

Jon Hamm stars in this series as Reverend Richard – check him out in the hugely successful Mad Men

This series was hugely successful when it aired between 2015 and 2019, regularly topping Netflix’s series charts and getting nominated for 19 Primetime Emmy Awards. Lucy Mangan of The Guardian says that’s because, “for four seasons, they wove straight and surreal plotlines, pure nonsense and just enough emotional truth to bind it all together, while maintaining a gag rate so high that you could be three rewatchings into an episode before you were sure you’d got all the jokes you missed laughing first time round.” Vulture’s Jen Chaney agrees, saying right to the end, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt remains gleefully silly and a true master at nonstop pop-culture puns and rat-a-tat-tat wordplay.”

First shown March 2015. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.

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