Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Is Netflix Comedy as Resilient as Its Heroine?

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Premiere Recap

If ever there were a poster child for living in oblivion, Ellie Kemper’s title character from Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is it.

All episodes of Kimmy — co-created by 30 Rock‘s Tina Fey and Robert Carlock — are now available on the streaming video service. In a moment, we’ll want to know what you thought of the premiere episode. But first, a brief recap:

Much like Fox’s Last Man on Earth, Kimmy Schmidt mines terrible conditions for great comedy: Kemper’s Kimmy is one of four “Mole Women,” ladies kept in an underground bunker in Indiana for 15 years by a crazy misogynist named Rev. Richard. Thinking that the world outside is a fiery wasteland, Kimmy and her “sisters” are shocked when a law-enforcement task force breaks down the door and rescues them.

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“It’s here! It’s all still here!” Kimmy says, looking around in wonder at the world. And that sense of awe stays with her throughout the episode, as she and the other Mole Women travel to New York to be interviewed by Today‘s Matt Lauer. When the morning host asks what’s next for the survivors, Kimmy realizes she can do anything she wants: So she chooses to stay in Manhattan and live off her portion of a fund set up for the Mole Women’s futures.

Watching Kemper channel Kimmy as she experiences the most mundane aspects of city life is a joy; she frees a carriage horse in Central Park, she sighs “Whee!” while riding on a subway car. And even when answers an apartment listing and is told she needs a job before she can move in, Kimmy just shrugs and makes it happen — turning a scolding of a bratty rich kid into a job as his new nanny. (As the boy’s mother, Jane Krakowski is the rich woman of leisure Jenna Maroney might’ve dreamed she’d eventually become.)

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Armed with a J-O-B and her Mole cash, Kimmy secures a place to live (aka the walk-in closet in an apartment occupied by a flamboyant and angry gay man named Titus). Kimmy sees none of the basement flat’s downsides — her “room” has a window, after all! — and takes her new pal Titus out on the town to celebrate.

Problem: While they’re at a club, someone steals Kimmy’s backpack… and the remnants of her Mole money. And she’s so tired from the ordeal that she sleeps through her first day as Buckley’s nanny, which gets her fired. Titus, a fellow small town transplant, suggests that she return home before the city turns her into the pathetic failure it’s made him; once a Broadway hopeful, he’s been reduced to wearing a robot costume and shilling for an arcade in Times Square.

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But catching a glimpse of a rat in a garbage can at the bus station makes Kimmy remember seeing one of the rodents in her bunker… and using its existence to challenge Rev. Richard’s claim that all life outside had ceased to exist. So she pulls herself together, finds Titus in Times Square and exhorts him to band together with her in oddball solidarity.

“We’re different. We’re the strong ones, and you can’t break us,” she cries, and her sunny nature wins over even the cynical man-sized robot, who breaks into The Circle of Life from The Lion King (with Kimmy on back-up vocals) as the episode ends.

Oh Kimmy, you had us the moment you called Matt Lauer “Bryant.” We’re in. We’re all in.

What did you think of the premiere? Grade the episode via the poll below, then hit the comments to elaborate on your choice.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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21 Comments
  1. Chris says:

    Watched the first two episodes already and this is a very funny show ! Ellie keeper is great

  2. Jared says:

    I haven’t watched the show yet but being snowed in today makes the perfect excuse to start.

  3. Et al says:

    Now I understand why NBC let this one go. It’s really, really good. It would not have fit in their programming lineup at all.

    • HAP says:

      Actually, Bob Greenblatt’s excuse for selling it off to Netflix was something like that, except he basically said they were having so much difficulty in keeping new comedy shows on the air, that he felt this show would fail simply because it would have no support from a successful lead-in. Damning it with faint praise. How in the world do you get a successful comedy lineup if you don’t keep trying?

  4. raftrap says:

    I didn’t like the first two episodes (the only laugh I had was the “has baseball changed?” joke), the show has potential cause of the involvement of Fey and Carlock, but I’m guessing this is one of those shows that gets really good by episode 6 or 7, so I’ll probably try it again later. Kimmy should just move to Jane Krakowski’s house and interact with the crazy rich people, cause the other side of the equation is not funny at all. (And I can’t compare this to “30 Rock”, while the pilot was far from the best episode, it was pretty good, and after the hot dog thing you immediately like Liz Lemon, Kimmy is not growing on me, no matter how unbreakable she is).

  5. Cyndi says:

    I’m curious – do people actually like Jane Krakowski? She was my least favorite part of 30 Rock and I wasn’t a fan of her Ally McBeal character either. Just wondering if it’s the characters she plays that rub me the wrong way or the actress herself. Does she get work because of who she knows?

  6. jo jo jo says:

    I am on episode 5, and I am enoying this show. and about Jane Krakowski, I have never watched Alley McBeal, probably for my genuine dislike of Calista Flockhart, but loved her on 30 Rock. She isnt like crazy Jenna in Kimmy- but she’s ok

  7. lisa says:

    Really liked the show so far! 3 episodes in and the whole cast and premise just really works for me. I found myself laughing more than I expected and just generally enjoying it

  8. B says:

    I watched the pilot and like the show so far, however I will say that the lack of music/musical transitions during scenes felt a bit jarring

  9. By the third episode it really starts getting awesome.

  10. Emm says:

    I watched the first 6 episodes this morning and I am just loving it! It is hilarious and I can’t wait to leave work so I can go watch the rest!

  11. craig says:

    Loved episode 6. PINOT NOIR!

  12. I just finished episode 13….I’m hooked!

  13. N says:

    I watched the first episode and think it’s funny!

  14. duffeben says:

    Watched five episodes tonight and they were the freshest and funniest sitcom shows I’ve seen in quite some time

  15. Soso says:

    Just finished watching all the episodes. LOVED it for the first 10 episodes, the last 3 annoyed me some, but they were still good.

    I really enjoyed the fact that they didn’t tip-toe around Kimmy’s past and pretend like she isn’t suffering from emotional and psychological repercussions as a result of her imprisonment. I also am rooting for the success of her relationship with [not going to name him]. I did not see that ship coming, which was so nice, cause usually I can predict who will be paired with whom from the first moment a new character is introduced.

    The last three episodes dumbed things down SO much though, that really got on my nerves. I get that the show exists in this alternate world where everyone is a little bit dimmer than usual, but that whole plot was so idiotically constructed it made things almost unwatchable for me. The guest appearances were legendary in these episodes! That helped a lot.

  16. Up to episode 7 – binge watching this show like theres no tomorrow. Im saying this now ‘ELLIE KEMPER FOR THE EMMY’ – or at least the show to win :D

  17. WenRaz says:

    My favorite new show! Thank you, Netflix!