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Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: “Kimmy Goes To The Doctor!”

You can’t just Buhbreeze your life

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Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

"Kimmy Goes To The Doctor!"

Season 1 , Episode 4

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After the intro sequence in “Kimmy Goes To The Doctor!,” Kimmy watches a commercial on her new television for Buhbreeze, a spoof on Febreze air freshener. The spoof becomes a recurring joke throughout the episode, but it also helps Kimmy realize that trying to change your outer appearance doesn’t fix your inner problems. You can’t Buhbreeze your life.

Martin Short plays Sidney Frampf (spelled Grant, but pronounced Frampf), the straight up terrifying plastic surgeon who convinces Kimmy he can get rid of her “scream lines.” Jacqueline introduces her to him when she goes in to have her toes tucked or reduced or altered in some sort of way so her garbage husband Julian will like them more. Kimmy’s intrigued by the idea of removing her scream lines, but when a talent agent recognizes her as one of the mole women, she goes one step further: She wants to get a whole new face. But even though she’s temporarily down on the way she looks, it again doesn’t take much to remind Kimmy she’s strong and that plastic surgery isn’t going to remove her scars; it’s just going to give her new, physical ones.

“Changing your outside isn’t going to fix what’s wrong inside. We’re just covering up our problems,” Kimmy tells the people in the plastic surgery waiting room in what’s, in her head, a rousing motivational pep talk but in reality is a slurred mess, the result of the drugs Frampf pumped her with. It’s a fairly obvious conclusion to come to, as is Kimmy’s application of her realization to Jacqueline’s life: Her toes aren’t the problem; her marriage is. But Kimmy earns the realization, really selling it with her enthusiasm.

Kimmy Schmidt the show is starting to feel a little formulaic. Kimmy gets knocked down but then is pretty quickly reminded of her own resilience. That’s kind of just a side effect of the 22-minute sitcom format. Problems have to be resolved rather quickly. And Kimmy Schmidt adheres a little more strictly to sitcom conventions than 30 Rock. But part of what is working from episode to episode is that even when Kimmy overcomes the particular problem at hand, there’s no pretension that everything’s okay now. Kimmy is taking baby steps toward reclaiming her life, and that’s believable and raw. The writers aren’t trying to Buhbreeze her life.

Plus, Kimmy Schmidt the character is fun and complex enough to make the repetitiveness not feel boring. But “Kimmy Goes To The Doctor!” does have a lot of the same emotional beats as “Kimmy Goes On A Date!,” with just the specifics of the plot changed. I’m not too worried about it yet, and I’m still impressed with how the writing doesn’t make her pep talks feel forced or cheesy. But for a show that’s intended to be binge-watched, redundancy can be even more glaring.

Titus, again, seems pretty disconnected from all this. When the entire cast of the new Broadway show Spidermen Too: 2 Many Spidermen end up injured, he decides to audition for a part. He encounters his nemesis Coriolanus Burt (James Monroe Iglehart), who he blames for stealing what could have been his big break years ago—a role in an all-Black production of Oklahoma! called Alabama!. But it turns out Coriolanus isn’t doing much better than Titus, so Titus’s big break could still be on the horizon.

The show is really taking its time with getting Titus back on stage, and that makes sense in the real world, since you don’t just achieve your dreams overnight. But Titus’s subplots are starting to feel redundant, and even though Burgess is killing it episode after episode, I still feel like a lot more character work needs to be done. The increasingly more ridiculous Spidermen audition sequence is hilarious, and it’s important that Titus has a life outside of Kimmy. He shouldn’t only exist in terms of his relationship to her, but I just wish that his life were a little more well defined than it currently is. Because Titus also shouldn’t just be a punchline.

I’m actually most interested in one of the teeny tiny subplots going on in this episode, featured in the cold open and the final scene. At the start of the episode, Kimmy gets a call from Cyndee Pokorny, one of the other women from the bunker. Kimmy’s visibly spooked by the call, quickly asking how Cyndee got her number. Titus, it turns out, sent her a letter pretending to be Kimmy. In the back of my mind during these first few episodes, I’ve wondered why Kimmy hasn’t had any contact with the other women since parting ways with them. I think there are plenty of believable explanations for this, the most compelling being that she’s trying to move on with her life and they remind her too much of the bunker. But until now, the show hasn’t done much to explore that.

The phone call is a really simple and powerful way of starting to show it. And even though we don’t return to Cyndee until episode’s end, Kimmy’s decision to invite Cyndee to New York is tied up in her arc this episode. She doesn’t have to explicitly say it, but her decision to not Buhbreeze her life informs her decision to reach out to Cyndee. Kimmy is starting to face her problems, instead of using her coping mechanism of convincing herself she’s not really here. That’s a big step for the character, and one that keeps the momentum going.

Stray observations:

  • “But I’m watching Law, squiggle, Order.”
  • “Goobadoobs” is Titus’s new word for “mole women.”
  • “Feet are the new butts, Kimmy.” I’m a firm believer that eyebrows are the new butts, but you do you, Jacqueline.
  • I’ve noticed that Kimmy repeatedly turns down water when it’s offered to her. It was particularly noticeable in this episode since it happens both in the doctor’s office and the agency. I could be noticing a pattern that doesn’t matter, but if Tina Fey’s writers’ room does the same kind of foreshadowing work as the writers on 30 Rock did all the time, I feel like it probably means Something.
  • Cyndee uses her sunshiney Midwestern cadence to explain her grim post-bunker life: “You know, sometimes I get mad for no reason.”
  • “Hashbrown no filter.”
  • Spidermen Too: 2 Many Spidermen is directed by the fictitious third Affleck brother, Myron Affleck.