Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: “Kimmy Gets A Job!”

Illustration for article titled Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: “Kimmy Gets A Job!”

“I like helping people. I’m good at it,” Kimmy Schmidt tells Titus in “Kimmy Gets A Job!” In these first two episodes, it becomes very clear that Kimmy was a huge part of keeping the other women together in the bunker. She developed coping mechanisms for them to survive, like the one at the center of this episode: living life 10 seconds at a time. According to Kimmy, you can withstand anything for 10 seconds at a time. So count to 10 and then start over again, and you’ll get through. It’s grim—a reminder of the trauma Kimmy lived through in the bunker. But it’s also a reminder of Kimmy’s optimism. The 10-second rule is what helps her survive in her new life in New York City, and she imparts the wisdom on the new people she’s trying to help: the Voorhees..eses.

We learn that Jacqueline Voorhees has a stepdaughter, Xanthippe (Kimmy calls her various alterations of this—Sumpabeh and Xanadu—before landing on the correct confusing rich white girl name). Xanthippe is a rotten rich kid who thinks, foolishly, that she can break Kimmy. Here, the character is little more than a plot device, but Dylan Gulula leans into the nastiness of the character, and she’s great up against Ellie Kemper’s pep.

Over in the B-plot, Titus rallies the costumed workers of Times Square against the costume rental company that has scammed them out of their security deposits. It’s not as funny nor as narratively rich as Kimmy’s story, especially since we don’t really learn a whole lot more about Titus here. But it isn’t without some laughs: Hello Kitty keeps suggesting an orgy, and Miss Piggy looks more like a sad pink potato. Titus wins in the end, using his knowledge of intellectual property laws to pressure the costume rental owner into giving everyone back their security deposits. His knowledge, it should be noted, comes from when he staged his own production of Lion King—which looks like it was just a one-man show with a cat—and was served by Disney’s lawyers.

Back at the Voorhees household, things fall apart when it turns out Jacqueline’s husband Julian isn’t flying in from London after all. A heartbroken Jacqueline fires Kimmy…again. But it turns out Kimmy, like Titus, also wins. She realizes that Xanthippe’s whole story about a surfer boyfriend was completely ripped from The Baby-Sitter’s Club Mystery #12: Dawn and The Surfer Ghost, and uses it as leverage to ground her. She also gives Buckley the birthday he has always wanted by letting him beat up Titus in an Iron Man costume. Kimmy’s success with the kids makes Jacqueline decide to keep her around, but she also opens up to her, telling Kimmy she thinks her marriage is falling apart. That much was clear from the fact that Jacqueline could only communicate to Julian through his assistant, but this moment between Kimmy and Jacqueline is touching, even if it’s not quite clear what Jacqueline’s role is in this story yet. But the scene also isn’t without its jokes: “You know, who among us is a perfect footslut?”

Kemper doesn’t even need a punchline to land laughs. Her delivery of “what, who are you, I wasn’t rapping” when Xanthippe barges in on her very much rapping (“Well they call me Cool Kimmy cuz I like to rap”) makes it one of the funniest lines in the episode. Even the simple way she gestures to a speaker and says “this?” when Jacqueline asks her if she even knows what a Givenchy romper is made me laugh. In my review of the pilot, I wrote about how the writers have really made Kimmy feel like a believable and fun character who never comes off as annoying or dumb. Kemper deserves as much credit for that, too, because in less capable hands, I feel like the jokes wouldn’t punch as hard. Even worse, the character could read as overly cutesy. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is often cute—all of its episode titles, after all, have an exclamation point at the end—but not gratingly so. And it’s a darker comedy than its bright color scheme and smiling hero suggest. Kemper plays those varying shades with equal degrees of success, and it makes all the difference.

Stray observations:

  • Shoutout to Jeff Richmond’s music, which has such an identifiable sound that I had flashbacks to 30 Rock throughout the episode, sparked solely by the musical cues.
  • “We’ve got to pump her stomach! We can’t take her to the hospital because her dad is running for Congress!”
  • But the best Xan line has to be: “I chew you up and I spit you out, just like all my food.”
  • “Are her friends with her? They’re so mean and cool. Sometimes I look at them at Barney’s from behind a pillar.”
  • According to Jacqueline, the first iteration of the birthday party looks like “the reception for an Appalachian incest wedding.” She also calls the piñata a “Mexican candy animal.” I don’t know how my Jacqueline love has already matched my love for Jenna Maroney, but it has.
  • “A scrunchie that’s also a wallet?!” Someone please Kickstart this idea for Kimmy.
  • “Your stepmother expects you to be at your half brother’s party when your full father gets here.”
  • Kimmy: “Titus, I need you to get your robot suit back.” Titus: “But I already did something today!” I feel you, Titus.
  • “Damnit, what white bitch got him golf clubs?!”