Plot: After fifteen years living as a captive under the control of a crazed religious zealot, Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) has been rescued and she intends to make the most of her new freedoms. She takes a big risk and relocates to New York City, but she has little other than a little cash and a lot of optimism. Of course, her initial encounters in the big city are less than optimistic, but her spirit refuses to be broken and despite some setbacks, Kimmy is determined to make her new life work. She manages to find a roommate in eccentric performer Titus (Tituss Burgess) and even some work for the also eccentric trophy wife Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski), so after some missteps, things seem to level out a little, at least for a while. But with her colorful new friends, confusing job, and her ever looming past, can Kimmy get the fresh start she needs?
Entertainment Value: This Netflix series is prime binge fodder, with offbeat humor, colorful characters, and just enough of a larger narrative arc to keep you wanting to see what happens next. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt takes a lot of cues from one of Tina Fey’s other projects, 30 Rock, but soon begins to take things in much weirder, off the wall directions. So the snark and the intelligence of 30 Rock is woven in, but Kimmy Schmidt gets a lot more manic and wild, especially as the series rolls on. This means the show has more charm to some viewers, who appreciate the weirdness, but it also means the series is perhaps a little less accessible. But even in the strangest episodes, I think there’s enough to keep most audiences entertained. I was more taken with the show when it ramped up the craziness or random nonsense however, so I loved when the show really goes for broke. I didn’t love the shift toward the bunker trial and such that happens at times, but other than that, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a consistently fun show that earns a solid recommendation.
I have to think that enjoyment of the show for a lot of folks will center on their feelings for its lead, Ellie Kemper. She has that special combination of naive and psycho, which is Kemper’s usual comedic style, so if you appreciate her earlier work, then you’re likely going to have fun here. Her performance is manic and all over the place, with that special sweetness she often displays, cut with drastic reactions and flashes of total madness from time to time. I think she is fun to watch, but I can see how it might run out of steam for some viewers, as she does little to mix up the character over the course of the show’s seasons. And of course, if you’re not a fan of Kemper’s signature humor, the show will likely not be a home run, though it is enough of an ensemble that perhaps you can find other characters or performers to focus on. The cast also includes Tina Fey, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane, Jon Hamm, Lauren Adams, Jane Krakowski, Amy Sedaris, and Sara Chase.
The Disc: Mill Creek brings this quirky comedy to Blu-ray and the show looks good, with a clean and colorful visual presentation. The show’s four seasons are spread across eight discs and while some minor digital issues arise, for the most part the episodes look terrific. The colors are especially bright and bold, while detail is sharp and should have fans more than satisfied.