Written by: Tina Fey and Robert Carlock
Starring: Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane, and Jane Krakowski
I recently saw a blurb online for a new show that Tina Fey had written that was streaming on Netflix. Wait… Tina Fey? Binge-watch on Netflix? Clearly, too good to be true. And so I had to check this series out for myself.
The series stars the adorable and very talented Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt who has spent the last 15 years in an underground cult. No, literally, and underground cult, that thought that the apocalypse had come, and so they had to stay in an underground bunker. The government finally rescues her and her three “sisters”, and the four go to New York City to talk about their lives as “Mole Women.” Kimmy decides that she’s wasted too much of her life, and decides to stay in the Big Apple. Then she gets a job as an assistant for the rich, narcissistic, and lovably daft Mrs. Jacqueline Voorhees, played by 30 Rock alum Jane Krokowski. To top it all off, she gets an apartment rooming with the flamingly gay Titus Andromedon, played by Broadway superstar Tituss Burgess.
I have to say that it took a little bit of time for the plot to really stick with me, but right away, I fell in love with the characters. I found Kimmy to be a delightful combination of Buddy the Elf from Elf and Jenna from 13 Going on 30. She has all the gumption of little orphan Annie mixed with a true desire to be a grown up in the “real world.” She still says catch phrases from the 1990’s and is mystified by new technology, like when she says, “Sorry, I’m late. I didn’t wear a watch, but then I realized that my phone had a watch in it!” Also, you have to love a woman who walks down 5th Avenue in Manhattan and buys a pair of “Twinkle Toe” light up shoes from Sketchers.
The supporting cast is fantastical as well. Titus is by far one of my favorite characters, reminding me of a heightened version of one of my best friends who is also a gay black actor living in New York City. He has catch phrases coming out of his perfecting pitched mouth, and it’s everything that I want and more. Jane Krowkowski is pretty much just reprising Jenna Malone from 30 Rock minus the sudden outbursts of song, but her performance is brilliant nonetheless. I love her rich bitch New York housewife and the superficial journey that she takes in Kimmy’s first year out of the bunker. And then there’s Carol Kane, playing Kimmy’s landlord. Holy Crap, is she funny! Kane perfectly wanders in and out of lucid moments and isn’t afraid to play stupid, ugly, or just plain strange.
And in traditional 30 Rock spirit, there’s a grand cavalcade of guest star appearances. One of my favorites was when Dean Norris, otherwise known as Hank from Breaking Bad, guest stars as Titus’s “straight” acting coach. When Titus can’t seem to get cast as the big straight parts, he goes to a “straight” acting coach… and honestly, who’s more butch than Dean Norris? Tina Fey appears in the last few episodes as the bumbling Prosecuting Attorney for the Mole Women case against Rev. Richard Wayne Gary Wayne. But MY favorite? Martin Short appears as the deformed and hilarious plastic surgeon to Jacqueline Voorhees. He has so much collagen injected into his lips and cheeks that at one point he has to smoosh his lips together to be understood. I nearly peed my pants.
I feel like this series fills the void that both 30 Rock and Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23 left. It’s satiric with a sweet side, with a million zings a minute, and built almost like a musical comedy in 30 minutes. I don’t think that this series has hit its stride just yet, BUT I really want for it to be picked up for a second season. I mean, come on, the theme song is the auto-tuned viral video from a man living in a trailer next to the site where the found the “Mole Women,” saying that they were “Unbreakable” and “Females be strong as hell.” It’s very reminiscent of the infamous “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That,” viral video. I don’t about all of you, but I am invested in Kimmy Schmidt, and I can’t wait to see what happens to her in Season 2. Come on Netflix!