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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled iUnbreakable Kimmy Schmidt /iwants to break the cycle
Photo: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
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Meeting a bad dude at the tech conference last episode has led to Kimmy discovering the many shades of trash men. “Party Monster” introduced Fran Dodd, the certified meninist who tired to argue that the reverend shouldn’t be in jail because what he did shouldn’t be considered illegal. He doubles down on that assertion when Kimmy confronts him in this episode, saying that the reverend’s bunker was a necessary return to traditional values.


Fran Dodd is over-the-top, but he isn’t far-fetched. He sounds a lot like the very real, very violent “incels,” men who believe they are entitled to sex with women because they have been denied it. Fran whines about being a nice guy overlooked by women in the same breath as admitting he gives women unwanted back massages. It’s incredibly satisfying to watch Kimmy beat him at arm wrestling and then beat the crap out of him. Fran Dodd and the reverend are the most extreme embodiments of toxic masculinity and violent patriarchy, and Kimmy is gradually becoming aware of how systemic and culturally embedded their misogyny is, realizing that life beyond the bunker is still full of bad men.


This leads to her taking down the problematic princes of Disney and trying to get a message out to young boys by sneaking into Titus’ production of “Beaudy An’ The Beest,” spelled that way for legal reasons. She even has to put Titus in his place for putting himself first once again. Titus sidelines Hudson, an uncanny mini-Titus, first by putting him in the lighting booth and then by encouraging him to join the wrestling team. Titus wants his own moment in the spotlight because he feels that he was denied his own shot at school play stardom because of how homophobic his town and school were (a flashback reveals that even the drama teacher made fun of the kids in the play). But by once again making this about him, Titus ends up denying Hudson of those same opportunities. Titus’ own story is sad, no doubt. But it doesn’t give him the right to trample on another kid’s potential or to make everything about him.

It takes a speech from Kimmy to set things right with Hudson. Kimmy wants to push everyone to be better people—not just the extremely bad guys like Fran and the reverend. And her realization that she needs to speak directly to young boys to get her message about misogyny out there is a crucial character moment for Kimmy, taking her post-bunker arc in a new direction. Kimmy always wants to help people. Now, she specifically wants to help make sure the world doesn’t breed more Fran Dodds. She wants to help boys push back against the cultural messages they receive from things like Disney movies that it’s okay to treat women badly.


And in true Kimmy Schmidt fashion, the show manages to unpack these more serious, grounded ideas within the context of some truly hilarious and wacky storytelling. All the soda propaganda jokes make “Beaudy An’ The Beest” so funny. And it’s elevated even further by the setup of the hipster audience—featuring returning guest Zosia Mamet—that thinks they’re watching high-brow, immersive theater. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt still has a lot of zany fun in this episode about the depth and breadth of patriarchy.

Stray observations:

  • Life According to Titus: He got so mad at Kimmy for telling him that it’s Sex And The City and not “Sex In The City” that he wrote “PIG” over her graduation photo.
  • So fun to see Black-ish’s Marsai Martin on another show!
  • Jacqueline and Lillian’s subplot is pretty minor, but it’s fun to watch Jane Krakowski and Carol Kane interact with each other more this season.

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