So, as I sat down (or more accurately lay down because of my poor posture and overall lethargy) to write this review, I thought that I had in my mind exactly what Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was as a TV show when it entered its final run of episodes. I was entirely ready to lambast (yes, lambast. ME! I’m one of those now) the final episodes for becoming surreal and bizarre. That was before I realised that part of the wonderful charm and hilarity of Unbreakable comes from the bizarre non-sequiturs or throwaway lines that come completely out of nowhere and catch you off guard. It’s like guerrilla comedy. My favourite clip from season 2 is still this:
Yes, I did just have a laughter break during my review writing. Why is that my favourite clip of the series, I hear you ask? Because my brain really responds to being surprised, and that is incredibly effective for me with comedy. Plus, funny voices are my comedy kryptonite. Just ask YouTube classics “La Fway” and SNL’s “The House Sitter” sketch. Literally endlessly amusing for me.
So perhaps my sense of disconnect from the latest series was not because it changed but instead my expectations of the show had changed. When a TV programme makes a decidedly baffling (and, ultimately – it turns out – unnecessary) move to split a final season into two parts, there is more pressure upon storyline resolution. The random narrative served the show well earlier, for me at least, because I was less invested in what was happening to the characters. I was content to see their lives remain relatively stable and unchanged. Indeed, for the vast majority of the series, the only character whose life changed especially remarkably was Jacqueline White (Jane Krakowski). For Kimmy, Titus and Lillian, the story stays relatively the same.
Once I’ve reconciled this expectation with what the show actually is, however, I find myself greatly enjoying the ride. Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) is still bafflingly lovable and Tituss (Titus Burgess) delightfully naive and self-centred, though Jacqueline and Lillian (Carol Kane) are slightly underused in these final episodes. There are more narrative strands to tie up as the series draws to a close, with these drawing upon more series topics, such as the #MeToo movement being the most present.
The final episodes see all of our characters confronted with what they are doing with their lives. Kimmy enters the final half of the season having symbolically shed her childhood via the slightly macabre attempted drowning of her backpack at the end of Season 4, Part 1 (a sequence of scenes that had me simultaneously chuckling and worried that Kimmy might in fact be a sociopath). She is still the same Kimmy that we have known over the past few seasons – a bright, sunny optimist in stark contrast to the rest of the adult world – but she is showing herself to be a little more wise and able to make fully considered decisions.
Meanwhile, Titus sees developments with his career and his romantic life moving forwards. Jacqueline and Lillian are largely there to appear in scenes with Titus and Kimmy but offer little of consequence. While I view this not too much of a great loss with Lillian, as I never especially warmed to her character, I feel like this is a great loss for Jacqueline, as she is arguably a highlight of the series for me. Jane Krakowski’s line deliveries are second to none, and she has some corkers in this series, but I want more, dammit!
In spite of all of my moans, the final collection of Kimmy Schmidt episodes moves the series to a satisfying conclusion for most of the main players involved, offering us great closure and emotional payoff for following these characters for as long as we have.
- There is nothing quite like a “What If” episode. It’s a TV trend that I used to quite enjoy back in the day, the most memorable being a Friends two-parter. Unbreakable uses the film Sliding Doors to contextualise their “What If” episode, in which the changes to Kimmy and Titus’s lives are examined if they both watched this film on the day Kimmy was due to be abducted. In a special double-length episode, we are treated to a vastly different Kimmy, and we are driven to reflect upon how much we prefer the ideals of the real-world version. While this works for Jacqueline, Lillian and Kimmy within the context of this episode, as you find yourself saying You’re better than this through the screen, the same can’t necessarily be said for all of the characters, as Titus’ negative character traits are all but erased in this iteration of the world and I can’t find too many reasons why the real world is better for him (except for the obvious, which I can’t reveal because it’ll spoil it too much).
Apologies for my brevity on this one: the n key is being really annoying and sticking, and it’s really pissed me off, hence the fact that I sound really moany for most of this post. I like the show, I swear!