Welcome to The A.V. Club’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt binge-watch. From Friday, April 15 through Sunday, April 17, Gwen Ihnat will be watching and reviewing every episode of the Netflix sitcom’s second season. You can watch and comment along with her here, or chime in on the individual episode reviews. For those watching the show at a more moderate pace, daily reviews by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya will start running Monday, April 18.
“Coming out” is shorthand for going public with who you really are. Mikey’s opening up to his family plays a key part in this episode, and fulfills the traditional “coming out” plotline here. In a really sweet scene with at a family dinner, the fact that he’s not hungry provokes much more anxiety than the fact that he’s gay (highlighted by a classic Kimmy Schmidt absurdist turn, as his grandmother is actually a puppet). But Kimmy, in a way, is also coming out by getting in touch with the anger that she’s buried down deep for so long, so that it erupts at a supermarket deli, tellingly when she feels she’s being abandoned by Lillian. Lillian is also demanding that people see her for who she really is, instead of the cute, benign neighborhood character she appears to be on the surface.
Titus and Mikey’s relationship continues to be one of the most heartwarming pairs on this show, as Titus even pretends to be a entire bowling alley to fool Mikey’s mom. But Mikey knows Titus well enough by now to know that his disappointment over the nondramatic coming out scene is because he didn’t get his own moment to shine. Because Mikey loves Titus—and more importantly, especially loves that theatrical part about him—he gives Titus a chance to shine with his unbridled tolerance number, which wins everyone over. So the show ultimately takes an unexpected turn when it comes to Mikey’s story, and a very welcome one.
Kimmy keeps going along her same path, as therapy is bound to bring a lot of her issues closer to the surface, as the process is supposed to do. Kimmy’s happy place (complete with a theme song cribbed from Cinderella’s “Bibbedy Bobbedy Boo”) quickly turns ugly when the harsh realities behind it are revealed. The show also does an excellent job of showing young Kimmy, with The Babysitters’ Club book she’ll have to read for the next 15 years, as she guilelessly gets into the Reverend’s white van. Kimmy is walking near two other girls her own age dressed in almost identical outfits when this happens: The Reverend could have abducted any one of them, so it’s Kimmy’s own misfortune (and the fact that she naively gets into a strange man’s van) that results in her horrible outcome.
The season so far seems determined to paint Kimmy’s mother somehow as just as much of a villain as the Reverend when it comes to Kimmy’s psyche. In Kimmy’s happy place, the fairy godmother (an accurate nod to the original fairy tale, where the fairy godmother was actually the ghost of Cinderella’s mother) becomes someone who abandons Kimmy. Undoubtedly when you’re stuck in a bunker for 15 years, you have to wonder why it’s taking so long for someone who is supposed to love you to find you.
Grade: A-. Titus and Mikey are the absolute best, as is Kimmy’s animated fantasy world.
- The score behind the opening scene with Titus and Mikey holding hands is that Helen Keller song from episode five.
- It’s a little odd that the Jacqueline storyline has been flat-out dropped from the last few episodes. Maybe I just miss Amy Sedaris.
- Pope Francis is indeed the best of all the popes.
- So true about the ending of Tangled being bullshit for the brunettes among us.
- Tina Fey is left-handed, and Mikey’s phone folds.
- Gretchen’s animated version is a sheep, just like her spirit animal in episode four this season.
- Kimmy doesn’t get it: All her childhood crushes are gay, like Lance Bass, Ricky Martin, and Niles from Frasier.
- Kimmy non-swears: “I don’t get pissed off; I get pissed on.”
- Unbreakable guest spot: Kimmy’s animated happy place includes guest voicework from Fey’s old co-star Scott Adsit as the “happy snake,” Jon Hamm’s return as the Reverend, and Lisa Kudrow as the Fairy Godmother.
- Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pop-culture references: I feel like Titus demanding that Kimmy choose between two identical ties is a nod to a similar scene between two belts in The Devil Wears Prada. Also, that story about Florence Henderson and the New York mayor giving her crabs showed up in her memoir. And isn’t the Reverend’s search for the nursing college an allusion to Ted Bundy?
- Spot-on signage: Kimmy gets to take one of Andrea’s items from her office, goes with a “40 Under 40” Award.
- Kimmy cartoon-character outfit: Horrible rainbow-bow necklace over a cat sweatshirt.