BY CHRIS KRAUSS
Comedies fall on a spectrum, with one side being laugh out loud hilarious and the other being awkwardly dead silence. Netlfix’s new self-produced series “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (UKS) falls just barely above average, managing to bring a few chuckles here and there that break the otherwise quiet room.
To break it down the entire first season follows main character, Kimmy Schmidt, after she is rescued from a cult living underground and then moves to New York to try and play catch up with a world that has changed significantly during her 15 year of captivity.
Honestly, this sounds like the set up to be a great show, filled with plenty of jokes about a girl stuck in the past, and the fact that Tina Fey and Robert Carlock (the minds behind “30 Rock”) almost makes it an instant success.However, UKS manages to take all of this potential and use it in all the wrong places.
Starting with the jokes, UKS succeeds when it isn’t trying as hard and buries its head in the sand when it is. Simple penis jokes are seven times funnier than the jokes that attempt to bring in the 15 years that Kimmy missed while she was in the bunker and sometimes the show strikes more like parody than anything else.
That being said, when the show does make use of bathroom humor, the show is at its best, even going to the extents of naming one of the main characters, Dong, to crack an episode worth of phallic humor.
This brings it to the characters and just like the rest of the show it is a mess of hit and misses. Kimmy Schmidt is played by hilarious Ellie Kemper, most famous for her time in “The Office” and “Bridesmaids,” manages to be convincing of her ignorant nature for the first half of the season and then magically halfway through jumps to making anachronistic jokes for someone coming from 15 years of imprisonment.
Other characters like Titus, played by Tituss Burgess, and Jacqueline Voorhees, played by Jane Krakowski (both veterans from “30 Rock”) seem to try to squeeze all the stereotypical roles into Kimmy’s best friend and employer, hitting black, gay, rich, white, career-troubled and relationship-troubled. Nothing too unique in them, but they get the job done. On that note, Dong, played by Ki Hong Lee is spot on with his humor and acting, making his parts in the show stand out significantly.
Where UKS really stands out with its humor is when the guest stars take the screen though and the show has no shortage of them, such as Richard Kind, Dean Norris, Amy Sedaris, Nick Kroll and Gil Birmingham. Tina Fey even makes a cameo in the show for a couple episodes, but seems to be the weakest of the links in this case. Each character brings a certain unique feel to the show and the suspense of never knowing what famous actor could pop up on screen is refreshing.
All this being said, the show has its moments and the episode “Kimmy Goes to the Doctor” is absolutely hilarious, poking fun at just the right places and making fun of excessive plastic surgery in a exciting way.
The show doesn’t really start out too well, with the characters taking their time to really get into their element and the story to get interesting, but everyone finds their niche by the 4th episode
and holds on tight until about the last two episodes. The latter part seems to happen simply because the show ends with 13 episodes and it’s only a 23 minute show on average, leaving the show to be over for binge watchers in a matter of hours. Plus it’s been announced that the next season won’t be coming out until March of 2016.
In the end the show does a decent job, but hopefully the show learns from its mistakes and offers more next season. Maybe the show should take a couple lessons from Netflix’s other self-produced series, “Orange is the New Black” about imprisonment and work in some funnier jokes for next time.
The Flyer gives “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” a 6/10.