Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (series 1)
Females are strong as Hell! Kimmy Schmidt is hilarious and wonderfully engaging with a ridiculously catchy theme tune, despite its odd few flaws. I could probably shout about those flaws all day long, but Oh! Em! Gee! it is everything you (I?) want from a sitcom. The first episode shows us Kimmy and several others being rescued from a bunker where a cultist (excellently cast, not revealed until late in the series) had been keeping them for 15 years in anticipation of the Apocalypse. Co-created by Tina Fey and someone who isn’t Tina Fey, the series follows Kimmy‘s attempts to settle into modern life in New York. The visual palette is Ugly Betty, the landlady is The Penguin‘s mother, but what’s best about Kimmy Schmidt is its positivism and lead actress Ellie Kemper (not just because she’s a redhead!)
It’s impossible not to be invested as Kimmy finds her way in the world aided by her capital-F fabulous, yet not one-note flatmate Titus. Occasional flashbacks to her time captive in a Fallout-style bunker give you a sense of the culture shock to which she’s exposed.
The series is riddled with “flaws”. Kimmy goes through multiple underage antagonists, plotlines (esp. romantic) seem to be trialled and dropped, Kimmy is decried for her ’80/’90s-centrism even as contemporary popular culture celebrates the same, her boss has an odd Native American background which kind-of works, etc, etc. What glues it all together is the central character’s joi-de-vivre as well as the quality of the snappy comedy.
Definitely a must watch, with a new series staring on NetFlix in April. Cannot wait!
Episodes (series 1-3)
I avoided this for ages, which I put down to bad advertising and/or scheduling, because Stephen “Dan! Dan! Dirk Gently! Dan!” Mangan and Tamsin “Needs no identifier” Grieg are highly watchable, routinely excellent and always make me laugh.
Oh alright, she was in Love Soup and Black Books. And Friday Night Dinner which was another series I never got around to until after the fact. Also, hilarious. Don’t get me started on the number of excellent female comedians from the ’90s BBC2/Ch.4 set who somehow fell into the Kevin Eldon “apparently good enough to class up someone else’s programme, but somehow never given their head… and a budget” set (tl;dr – it’s basically all of them).
Anyway, Episodes also notably stars Matt LeBlanc, who according to the pedia of wikis has won several awards for his larger-than-life performance as “himself”. I wouldn’t say his very good turn as a Califonicating-Duchovny-lite isn’t great (and much more nuanced, sorry David), but awards? No. Don’t let your opinion of him or Friends (referenced almost never and by name once in three series) colour your judgement, this is a very good series where a lot of the comedy comes from character, or the classic “(beat) undercut”. Like The Player without the killing or the aforementioned CFC with only one gratuitous full boob scene in three series as opposed to every episode.
The premise of the series is that the two Brit character are writers of a hit UK TV show and have moved to LA (read: the UK with really bright lights shone on it) to remake it for the US. Things turn out not quite how they planned, natch.
Decent slow grower, less snappily-dialogued and more grounded than Kimmy Schmidt, it’s much more UK telly-feeling than its creators (Friends alumni) and backers (US channel Showtime) might suggest. Do watch.