49°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

TV Series Review: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Tastefully Addresses Social issues

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

The 2015 Netflix original series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, is about a young woman named Kimmy Schmidt who was forced into a doomsday cult by an insane preacher. Kimmy spends fifteen years in an underground bunker in Indiana being told that the world has ended and it is currently an apocalyptic wasteland.  
The first few minutes of the pilot episode show Kimmy and the three other women also trapped with her (they are referred to as “mole women” by the media) being rescued, and then going to New York City for an interview on television. During the interview Kimmy decides to stay in New York City instead of going back to Indiana where she will only be seen as a victim. The rest of season one is about Kimmy adjusting to the adult world, or “the future” as she refers to it.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is not just about Kimmy however. The show also stars Kimmy’s roommate, Titus, who is a sassy gay black man that just wants to be on Broadway; Dong, Kimmy’s Vietnamese study buddy/love interest who works at a Chinese food restaurant and is good at math; Mrs. Voorhees, Kimmy’s incredibly wealthy boss who is secretly Native American; and Lillian, Kimmy and Titus’ crazy white landlady who is incredibly sketchy and may or may not have buried her dead husband in the backyard, as well as many others.
Basically, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is filled with stock characters…
…except that it’s not.
Each “stock character” has so much more to their personality. Titus is much more than just a sassy gay friend. Dong isn’t just an Asian who is good at math. Mrs. Voorhees isn’t just a woman who is ashamed of her Native American heritage. Lillian isn’t just incredibly sketchy. Each character has character development that makes then so much more than a simple stereotype. In fact, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt uses these stereotypes and plays with them, making the audience see how ridiculous they really are.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is also a commentary on many of the social problems our society faces today. Not only does the show play with race (for example, Titus gets a job at a themed restaurant as a werewolf and whenever he’s in the werewolf costume people want him to hold their babies and police officers go out of their way to be nice to him) but the show also deals with how women are treated in Western society.
One thing I think Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt handles well is how Kimmy’s past does not make her a victim. While it’s heavily, heavily, heavily implied that Kimmy was a survivor of sexual violence it’s never implied in a cheap way. The way the show implies it is usually played for laughs, but the characters do react appropriately to Kimmy’s actions. However, these actions and fears are not her entire character.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is not about a poor girl who was sexually assaulted and submitted to traumatic events. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is about an excited and eager young woman who just happened to be sexually assaulted and submitted to a traumatic past.
Kimmy Schmidt truly is unbreakable.