“Happy-go-lucky” is an understatement when it comes to describing the charming protagonist of Netflix’s newest series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. With creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock behind the series, a binge-watch of the thirteen episode series is difficult to avoid. For every Walking Dead and Orange is the New Black, a refreshingly funny, light-hearted — but smart — and original series is hard to come by: despite the doom and gloom of the news and many other series, Kimmy Schmidt is a ray of much needed pink-clad sunshine. In fact, doom and gloom is where the series begins; the protagonist Kimmy Schmidt, played by fabulous Ellie Kemper (remember quirky Erin from The Office?), is one of four “mole women” trapped in a bunker that is controlled by a doomsday reverend (played by the charming Jon Hamm of Mad Men fame). The series begins with Kimmy and the other women’s release from the bunker, and more importantly follows Kimmy’s journey into a new world known as New York City and her rebirth as a free woman.
The heart of Kimmy Schmidt is not just the all-star cast (though that certainly doesn’t hurt the series). The true heart of the show is the subtle, yet invigorating feminist theme that runs throughout the series. If a viewer doesn’t catch it from the theme song—a parody of the YouTube hit “Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That” — when the phrase “females are strong” blares over the dubstep beat, women supporting women is the greatest take-away from the series. Kimmy, although a novice to the ways of New York City and the twenty-first century, is a protagonist that makes helping other women her mission. Perhaps this is why she is “unbreakable,” more of a superhero than a woman who survived living in a cult for most of her young life.
As she navigates the trials of independent adulthood, Kimmy assists Jacqueline Voorhees (played by 30 Rock favorite Jane Krakowski), the rich socialite that employs Kimmy as a nanny, to become her own woman outside of her husband’s beck and call. Through every episode, there is a revelation of independence, whether it be from the sense of inevitable failure that plagues so many post-grads, the pressure to find a partner and marry away one’s troubles, and even the worry over finances that makes us all feel chained to the system. What is so incredible about the show is that it never screams an agenda at its audience; it encourages the audience, through one-liners and serious conversations between characters, to think a little differently about the way our world has made women and minorities inferior in society. It is impossible to watch the series and not feel invigorated by its desire to integrate themes of social justice into character’s conversations.
Kimmy Schmidt is not just a show about feminism. It also vibrates with refreshing humor and that signature Tina Fey idiosyncrasy that charmed SNL and 30 Rock audiences alike. Perhaps it’s the sheer oddity and goofiness that keeps a viewer coming back for one more episode (or, let’s be honest, the entire series in one sitting). The show radiates infectious energy even when the characters are faced with potentially dire situations. Of course, everything can be solved in thirty-minute episodes, but then again, Kimmy and her band of crazy New York caricature friends make us believe that maybe thirty minutes are all we need to get things right. The show pokes fun at our society’s biggest faults, like being too invested in the world inside our phones and our obsession with materialism. And the most fantastic thing about Kimmy Schmidt? After living in a bunker for roughly fifteen years, none of the new inventions of our world phase or entice her. Kimmy reminds audiences to get outside of these worlds that trap us; even though she fails, she always dusts the dirt off her light-up shoes and tries again.
So using the phrase “happy-go-lucky” to describe Kimmy Schmidt is accurate but not quite enough. For Kimmy Schmidt, “happy-go-lucky-goes-out-and-gets-it” is a far more suitable phrase for Netflix Original Series’ soon-to-be newest favorite female protagonist (sorry, Piper, you’ve had your turn for now). If you’re looking for something to get your mind off all the gloomy, apocalyptic images you see every day, give Kimmy Schmidt and her storybook view of New York a try. Kimmy teaches us to embrace our own power, and the power of the women (and men) around us. This lovable protagonist finds a way to see the sunshine in the smog and convince her friends and her audience to do the same. What’s better than a show that makes you feel uplifted? Unbreakable is the perfect quick fix to your three-quarters through semester slump. Now all that’s left to do is wait for season two; let’s hope the Reverend Richard Wayne’s apocalypse doesn’t happen before then.