A gosh darn second season for Kimmy? It’s going to be an…interesting transition.
2015 was the year that “Netflix & Chill” entered into popular discourse in order to be spectacularly misused, but it was also the year that the streaming service turned the corner and dominated every genre of small screen entertainment. Released alongside Daredevil‘s superhero fare, Bloodline‘s intense family drama and the prestige sitcom Grace and Frankie, the Tina Fey produced UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT actively bucked the trend with surrealism, non sequiturs and a healthy dose of unstoppable optimism.
The second season doesn’t quite have the immediate impact of the first outing. Yet inconsistency is precisely the strength of UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT, a series that manages to surprise multiple times within the span of single line of dialogue. Perhaps this is due to Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) no longer being entirely the fish-out-of-water she was at the start of Season 1, and now the supporting players are rapidly eclipsing the titular lead. Titus (Tituss Burgess) is building a relationship with a recently outed construction worker, while Lillian (Carol Kane) reconnects with Bobby Durst (Fred Armisen) and tries to save the neighbourhood from the scourges of hipsterism. Former boss and now demanding friend Jacqueline White (Jane Krakowski) attempts to give meaning to her ‘meagre’ $12 million settlement, by funneling her last pennies into an awareness campaign for her Native American heritage. Meanwhile, Kimmy’s primary storyline comes from also reconnecting with her pre-Mole Woman roots, as creator Tina Fey takes more of a central role as Kimmy’s alcoholic therapist/Über passenger.
The second season of UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT was written with a deliberate attempt to respond to online audience comments, something that can definitely be seen in the knowing series of in-jokes and gags that permeate the thirteen episodes. This is a flawed approach in many ways, with the sophomore season feeling more like Tina Fey’s other show, 30 Rock, a closed world often written by writers for other writers. It doesn’t stop these gags from being side-splittingly (and head-shakingly) hilarious at times, including a visual reference to Chuck Lorre’s songwriting abilities, a whole Mentos commercial, Joshua Jackson as a gas station clerk with opinions on Dawson’s Creek, and a grandmother who is inexplicably a puppet. Quibbles aside, if UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT is writing more for itself than an audience in this second season, it does so by creating an army of jokes that it sends down the Netflix tubes. A few more of them get stuck along the way this time, but it doesn’t make it any less of an overwhelming assault on our funny bones. So while temptation with the Netflix series is to binge the whole thing in one or two sittings, the regularly non-linear structure of this second season lends itself to lingering a little longer over the pieces.
2016 | US | Creators: Tina Fey, Robert Carlock | Cast: Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane, Jane Krakowski | Distributor: Netflix | Episodes: 13 | Rating:★★★★¼ (8.5/10)