Season Three of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” entertains, falls short

I don’t believe in spoilers for sitcoms but read at your own risk.

Ah, originals – one of the best features of (my parent’s) Netflix subscription. I began my foray into such content with Orange is the New Black, and was quickly hooked on the often blunt content. Naturally, when “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” was released, I watched season one and I’ve returned for both of the following seasons. While I am a repeat customer (and will likely return for season four), I have to say that I’ve gotten progressively more disappointed with each season’s release.

 

unbreakable-kimmy-schmidt
Image from Netflix

 

Season three of “Kimmy” consists of 13 episodes, each at least 30 minutes long. For me, this format is especially fertile ground for a good binge-watching stint. Even if I’m not particularly enthralled by a show of this length, I find that the small amount of effort required to get through each episode is minimally taxing. “Kimmy” also finds small ways to make clicking that “next episode” button slightly more compelling in providing tiny cliffhangers that are quickly resolved in a comical manner.

My main problem with this third season of “Kimmy” is in the extreme characterization being applied to the remaining main figures. For example, Kimmy’s quirky and naïve attitude, which began in season one as somewhat relatable, has become, on the part of Ellie Kemper, a certain stubbornness to remain clueless to the realities of life in New York. In some small ways, Kimmy has become considerably more seasoned. This is most noticeable in her interactions with Cyndee Pokorny, one of Kimmy’s fellow “Mole Women.” The scenes in which Kimmy and Cyndee interact are the highlights of the season. Most notably, in the New York convention center, when Cyndee calls Kimmy begging for help from a faux, advertisement bunker. In this instance, somehow, Cyndee finds employment with a company selling bunkers. Amidst sneaky one-liners and declarations of discomfort, Kimmy acts as a protector figure of sorts, helping Cyndee work out how she got there. It is moments like this, which contrast with Kimmy’s interactions with other characters, that prove to be intelligent, witty humor. Rather than capitalize on Kimmy’s gullibility, directors should have focused on Kimmy’s developing worldliness, and her failings in that, rather than cling to the shows patronizing roots.

As for the secondary characters (Titus, Lillian, Jacqueline, etc.), their characters remained rather static this season. Titus, in particular, is still pining after out-of-reach lovers and making trashy music videos, which all dim in comparison to the Pinot Noir Music video of season one. Allowing Kimmy to fade into the background at times, the show often focuses on the misadventures of these secondary characters. In one episode, Jacqueline transforms Lillian into a classy lady for a dinner with her new wealthy boyfriend and both women learn a little bit about self-love. Similar interactions occur with these characters and more minor characters throughout the season. It was nice to see small developments in the personalities of such smaller agents as it adds to the overall appeal of the show and presents a more three-dimensional world for Kimmy to navigate.

One of the strengths of the show remains in the writing of impossible scenarios, products, locations, and people amongst other imagined circumstances. With the addition of intelligent characters like Perry (Daveed Diggs), the writers take this to a whole new level and include clever witticisms throughout his appearances. Juxtaposed with Kimmy’s upbeat joke style, this method adds much-needed depth of humor to a show otherwise void of subtle comedy.

Overall, “Kimmy” is worth a binge, but don’t expect the fresh comedy presented in season one. While I am slightly disappointed in the downward trajectory the show has taken, I see plenty of places for improvement in subsequent seasons. For one, I would like to see more instances of Kimmy’s faulty judgment rather than such heavy focus on childlike catastrophes.

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