The first episode of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” premiered on Netflix on March 6, 2015. Since then a lot has changed— not just in our world, but in the online video streaming platform as a whole. In America, we saw a transfer of power from one president to another across party lines, along with all the conflict and controversy that accompanied it. In Hollywood, the #MeToo movement came into itself, taking down renowned directors, producers and actors, and shining a light on the predatory behavior of the film elite. Several political movements, including the Black Lives Matter protests and the Women’s March rose and fell with differing results. So, it stands to reason that “Kimmy Schmidt,” a show spearheaded by female comedic icon Tina Fey, a woman who never strays from the controversial, would include some of the great changes of the past four years in her show in the Jan. 25 release of the final episodes.
Kimmy (Ellie Kemper), the titular character, never quite moves past her childlike immaturity, brought on by the trauma of spending 15 years trapped in a doomsday cult. While her trauma and the lengths she must take in order to deal with it is compelling, the show itself seemed to grow bored with her as it progressed, delving into the issues and pasts of those surrounding her, to varying degrees of success. While I was always happy to see Kimmy as she deals with modern life (at one point in the final episodes, she develops an “emotional affair” with a coworker’s parents, with hilarious results), I could not say the same with Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski), the thoroughly unlikable former employer, turned talent agent. While her backstory as an indigenous woman was bad enough, given actress Jane Krakowski’s thoroughly caucasian heritage (her whiteness may have been part of the joke, but it was poorly written and executed), I also found myself hating her involvement with the #MeToo movement. As an agent, she discourages Titus (Tituss Burgess) from speaking up on his own assault at the felten hands of a famous puppet. She also functions as an unwitting benefactress of the poor young men, scared of being ousted, running to older women like herself for flings. Her character lacks depth, unlike Kimmy, and her obnoxious actions are never really resolved.
Titus shines throughout the series, and the final episodes of “Kimmy Schmidt” do little to dim his sparkle. While nothing quite beats his “Pinot Noir” music video of the first season, his unlikely turn on “Cats” is unforgettable. Even though it would be easy enough to let his character stagnate in outlandish flamboyance, Titus shows growth in his dealing with former love Mikey (Mike Carlsen) as he moves on to a stable relationship with a banker. I would gladly watch a spin-off of “Kimmy Schmidt” featuring Titus in his adventures as an up-and-coming actor.
While it can be hard to see a show come to a close, “Kimmy Schmidt” was ready to end. Creator Tina Fey has a hit or miss style of humor that often goes over the edge in pursuit of a winning punchline, but unfortunately this humor was serving up more misses than hits as the series progressed. At the very least, the showrunners were well aware of their impending end, and tied up the series as well as they could, resulting in a satisfying end for all. Overall, “Kimmy Schmidt” was never predictable, for better or for worse, and I am happy to see it end in a way I definitely did not expect.