Arts, Television, Review

‘Unbreakable’ Cast Powers Through Lackluster Ending

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt returns to Netflix, with the last six episodes of its final season tackling tough topics alongside the optimistic, bubbly, unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper).

This final season takes particular care to highlight the #MeToo movement, as each beloved character finds themselves encountering the aftermath of the post-#MeToo era. In the sixth episode, Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski) and Lillian (Carol Kane) step into a Home Basics store, the new stomping ground for young millennial men to pursue middle-aged women, or as Jacqueline deems it “Pervatory.” Men are afraid their actions will be misinterpreted as harassment or assault, but this episode pokes fun at this fear.

It also flips the scenario of the older man pursuing a younger woman: Instead, a young man pursues Jacqueline, much to her chagrin. But Jacqueline and Lillian eventually start to wonder why older men pursue younger women, and why women never seem to do that—the reason, surmised by one of the millenial men, is “Because we’re gross!” This plotline sets up a truly terrific start to the new batch of episodes, striking a perfect comedic chord.

In the seventh episode, Titus (Tituss Burgess), having gone through a harrowing audition process with universally beloved puppet Mr. Frumpus, is contacted by the real Ronan Farrow—the reporter who brought to large allegations against Harvey Weinstein—to tell his story. This plotline attempts, rather shakily, to mirror the harassment incidents with Weinstein: A beloved, powerful public figure (in this case a puppet) using his status to leverage superiority.

Yet, this is what the show’s always done—taken serious subjects (abduction, cults, misogyny, and now sexual harassment) and twisted them with humor, shocking audiences into laughter. The show is usually successful at incorporating humor by distancing reality far enough away from its parodied plotlines to allow for comedic relief. Much like the way Kimmy looks at life, optimism and humor can be found in anything, and sometimes it’s the easiest way to digest difficult topics. Titus’s plotline, however, leaves audiences questioning if Unbreakable writers really succeeded in this parodied portrayal. It could be that it’s just too soon for this kind of humor.

As for Kimmy Schmidt herself, she’s off helping save the world without even realizing it. Her book, The Legend of Greemulax, which was considered a failure in the first half of the season, becomes massively popular. Before Kimmy discovers this, though, she finds herself confronting a lot of her past. She meets up with fellow mole woman Donna Maria (Sol Miranda), and recalls the days in the bunker. An hour-long episode is even dedicated to the question of what would have happened if Kimmy never got in the Reverend’s van. It’s a question that calls to mind the early seasons of Unbreakable.

Kimmy’s past as an Indiana Mole Woman has always been the heart of the show—tying back to the early seasons in this way is smart, but it’s also enjoyable for viewers to reminisce. It shows that much of who Kimmy is has and hasn’t changed. In fact, every character—Kimmy, Titus, Jacqueline, and Lillian—has remained incredibly grounded in their individual personalities. These characters stayed true to themselves in the early seasons and have carried that momentum with them the whole way through.

Titus, Jacqueline, and Lillian helped Kimmy grow from Indiana Mole Woman to The Legend of Greemulax author, and Kimmy never stopped encouraging and supporting her friends. The end of this series sadly means saying goodbye to this incredibly eccentric cast of characters. Kimmy Schmidt, unabashedly portrayed by Kemper, is one distinctive female character who will be missed for the optimism and energy she exuded on screen.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt attempted to do a lot in its last six episodes, working in the topic of sexual harassment, tying up previously laid out plots from the earlier episodes in season four, and ultimately providing happy endings for each of their characters. The incredible cast of characters drives the show with the same personality and whimsicality they originally began with in Season One. In comparison to previous seasons, Season Four starts strong, but overall it isn’t the best. Regardless, the finale will leave long-time viewers satisfied, because in this ending, life-long dreams do come true, and Kimmy Schmidt is still saving the world.

Featured Image by Netflix

January 27, 2019

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