Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Harbors Annoying Main Character Syndrome

Somewhat similar to Carrie Bradshaw Syndrome, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has a main character that, at times, almost entirely counteracts the goodness of the show (still, let’s not forget, a pale image of 30 Rock). Its sharp dialogue, attention to physical detail (like when Titus blows a kiss to Lillian and then decides to snatch it back from the air) and nuanced NYC-specific jokes are all constantly threatened whenever Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) opens her mouth.

Of course, the problem is that, like Woody Allen, when Tina Fey gives her personality to another actor to play it, the result is never half as good as the real thing. Instead, Kemper’s delivery ends up making you want to reach your hands through the screen, squeeze her neck and urge, “Please stop saying ‘fudge’ like its endearing.”

With the advent of season two on April 15th, the show’s unique, specialized brand of humor has upped its ante even further (though perhaps not to the level it did with season one’s “Kimmy Goes To A Doctor!” a.k.a. the episode that killed Fredric Brandt). Tackling everything from pizza rat and gentrification to friendless New Yorker body disposal and Upper East Side trophy wife mind fuckery, Fey and Robert Carlock’s unstoppable collaborative efforts are so often tragically marred by one vexatious line from Kimmy.

Indeed, probably the least interesting narrative thread to watch in season two is Kimmy’s PTSD manifestations coming out through her mouth, as in she can’t control the emission of her disgusting burps that apparently smell, as Lillian (Carol Kane) notes, “like a mouse died inside the walls of your body.” Lillian and Titus’ (Tituss Burgess) story lines, on the other hand, are second only to Jacqueline White’s (Jane Krakowski), formerly Jacqueline Vorhees. The latter navigates her way back from South Dakota after her divorce and a failed attempt at reconnecting with her Native American roots, a somewhat dicey backstory in terms of ability to offend that Robert Carlock has explained away in the form of “We have a couple of writers on staff with Native American heritage…”

Still, it leads Jacqueline to Russ Snyder (David Cross), an uncouth, unattractive lawyer that ends up reclaiming (on behalf of a Jewish family) the only item of value she’s finagled for herself post-divorce, a Mondrian painting. Again, even the potentially offensive nature of this major plot point is no match for the exasperation one feels with Kimmy’s trajectory in season two, which Tina Fey eventually personally comes in to help with as a bipolar alcoholic therapist named Andrea Bayden (one of her best roles, actually). Unfortunately, this character can’t stay, as she surrenders to having to go to rehab while she whip nae naes on a rooftop.

Even Dong (Ki Hong Lee), the only person who really sees Kimmy’s irritating qualities as charming, can’t manage to stick around after getting deported thanks to trying to sleep with her at a hotel (latex allergies are a killer). In fact, it’s so blatant that the reason Fey and Carlock pack the show so full of other amazing minor characters (including Fred Armisen as Robert Durst) is, in large part, to mask just how intolerable their so-called heroine would be without them. Even the Reverend (Jon Hamm)–the objectively least likable person on the show–has to come back now and again just to make Kimmy look better. But it’s possible that more time in the real world could make Kimmy less cartoonish. Otherwise, back to the bunker with her and leave the camera on the rest.


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