The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

So, the second season of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is on Canadian Netflix. I watched it and I have Thoughts. But TBH my attention span hasn’t been great lately and most of my viewing happened while I simultaneously surfed the internet on my phone, so take my opinions with a grain of salt I guess. Also there will be spoilers obviously.

Kimmy pines for her ex bf Dong to an extent that seems all out of proportion with how long they went out and how much chemistry the actors had together. It got tedious for me.

Was Kimmy always so preachy? I mean I know in the first season she learned a lot of important life-lessons and sometimes tried to help people around her become more healthy and self-aware, but this season just felt like a constant bitch-slap with heavy-handed morality. It’s possible that the big “You need to be your own person!” speeches just permeated my ‘net surfing fog more than all the other bits because dramatic music, though. Maybe those moments were rarer than I’m thinking.

The more I watch the episode(s) where Jacqueline is hanging out with her parents and trying to get in touch with her Native ancestry, the more uncomfortable I become. I can’t help feeling that the only way this plotline isn’t vaguely offensive and “lookit these peoples and their exotic customs!” is if Native people actually wrote it. Which, I don’t know the show’s writing staff. Maybe it’s diverse in that way. But I suspect not.

Also there’s an episode where Jacqueline replaces a ceremonial pipe with one of those vape “cigarette” things and literally within the next five minutes she complains about people trying to barge into Native culture with white culture and take it over and neither of her parents goes “Oh like JUST NOW WHEN YOU TRIED TO MAKE US VAPE INSTEAD OF SMOKING?”

And it bugs me that Jacqueline made a whole huge deal of taking out her blue contacts because she was rejecting the idea of trying to look white…but she kept her hair blonde. Also, I’m really curious now what the actress would look like with dark hair and eyes. 😛

Then there was the whole other cultural appropriation episode where Titus decides to put on a one-man show…as the geisha he believes he was in a past life. A group of people protest the play, and they are flat-out portrayed as oversensitive wackos who eagerly look for shit to be pointlessly offended about. In the end, the Japanese guy spearheading the protest decides that the play wasn’t offensive at all because…it includes an old Japanese song he remembers from his childhood. O.o

The one redeeming thing about this episode is that Titus did play the geisha fairly sensitively (by which I mean, without that self-conscious “look how hilarious I’m being right now!” thing some people do when dressed up as something they’re not). He seemed to be taking it seriously and playing the character as an actual human being, which doesn’t make the yellowface okay, but makes the episode less of a total shitshow than it could have been.

I feel like the episode could have been a nuanced examination of what makes cultural appropriation offensive and whether the level of offensiveness is impacted by things like how much someone knows about the culture they’re appropriating and how careful they are in their portrayal. But instead it was just “Titus wants to put on a play”—> “People are mean to him about the play for like noooooo reason” —> “Then Titus’ good intentions make everything all better and the mean people realize that they were being totally unreasonable and stupid. The End!” Ugh.

Hey in that episode where Kimmy and Dong have sex, would it have been unprotected? Because we’d already established that he’s super allergic to latex. Also it seems a bit random to suddenly have all this PTSD crop up that makes her attack people. Maybe I’m wrong; I’m not an expert in this area. But flashbacks have shown us that Kimmy stepped into the cult guy’s van of her own free will (he didn’t abduct her by grabbing her) and although she’s said that “weird sex stuff” happened in the bunker, the strong implication was that it was consensual and happened with the other women (We never see a flashback in which cult leader dude physically assaults her in any way. We do see a flashback where Kimmy willingly play-acts being on a date with one of the other women (and no sexual stuff ends up happening…)). Also, Kimmy kissed a guy or two in season one without flipping out on them.

Did they ever say where the fuck Titus and Kimmy were gonna stay while they rented their place out as an Air BnB? That bugged the shit out of me.

I like that Kimmy and Titus are shown having various jobs throughout their lives, just like most people do. And I like that Jacqueline goes from being Mrs. Vorhees to Ms. White, without even a lot of fanfare. I can’t remember ever seeing a woman get divorced and change back to her maiden name in a tv show. Maybe I’m just really sheltered or forgetful. But this kinda feels like a milestone to me.

Kimmy’s boss at the Christmas store has a Christopher Walken thing going on, don’t you think? I mean, young and ginger, but still.

I can never tell the two other white chicks from the bunker apart. This is what happens when you cast people who conform to current societal beauty standards and have the same colour hair. Also, why doesn’t the hispanic one get any proper plotlines? Surely she and Kimmy bonded during those fifteen years trapped together, even though they (ostensibly) had a language barrier. Why hasn’t Kimmy followed up on how she’s doing or tried to save her from anything or taught her an important life lesson?

Okay so here’s a thing that’s really been pissing me off, and it’s a brief enough moment that I know goddamn well I didn’t miss some nuance of it due to inattention: when Kimmy and the psychologist chick played by Tina Fey are on the roof, Kimmy shows Tina how long she can hold her breath. It’s four minutes, and Tina is impressed. Kimmy says “the secret is not caring if you live or die.”

WHAT?!? No you stupid fuckers no. The entire motherfucking premise of the show is that Kimmy has an indomitable will to survive. THE SHOW IS CALLED THE UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT. THE THEME SONG REPEATS THE WORD “UNBREAKABLE” OVER AND OVER TO UNDERSCORE THE POINT. This nihilistic and depressing line Kimmy says is completely out of character and not funny enough to make up for it. Not funny at all, really; feels like a stale rehash of something Homer Simpson probably said twenty years ago.

Y’know what I think Kimmy should have said, and that would have actually fit with her personality and (in my opinion) been funnier? “The secret is to pretend you’re a mermaid” (beat) “…who’s competing in a holding-your-breath contest!” BOOM. Whimsical, optimistic, and a bit off-kilter. Textbook Kimmy Schmidt.

Those are all my scattered thoughts for now. It occurs to me that probably other people have written on this subject so I’m gonna go Google “cultural appropriation Kimmy Schmidt” and see if other people have made some posts that I can rage-bond with.

 

 

 

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