With the mega-success and critical acclaim of House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, it's no secret that Netflix has become a formidable opponent to the offerings from network and cable TV today. Now the video streaming platform is beefing up its comedic content with the release of all 13 episodes of the first season of its newest original series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on March 6.
However, the show starts off with a rather dark premise. Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) is rescued from a bunker where she was forced to live as part of a doomsday cult along with three other female captives. After the "Indiana Mole Women," as the media dubs them, appear on The TODAY Show to tell their story, Kimmy decides to make a new life for herself in New York. Along the way, she shacks up with her new roommate Titus (Tituss Burgess), a Broadway wannabe who makes ends meet by wearing a broke-down Iron Man costume in Times Square. She also lands a job as the nanny/life coach/best friend of Real Housewife Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski).
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt comes from the brilliant minds of Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, and as such, it has a similar over-the-top kookiness as that other show they created, 30 Rock, in addition to featuring some of its cast. It's hard to ignore this sort of pedigree when you talk about Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which is probably why the show's connections to 30 Rock were a major topic during a Q&A with Kemper, Krakowski and Burgess after an advanced screening of its first two episodes in New York Thursday night.
Kemper admitted to binge-watching 30 Rock in its entirety to prepare to get a better grasp on what to expect from the writing of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. And even though you will definitely get the Jenna Maroney vibe from Jacqueline on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Krakowski wants you to know the two characters do, in fact, have a very important distinction.
"There was a day when Tina [Fey] finally just broke it down for me and said, 'Well, Jenna was a horrible person,' which was good to learn after we finished wrapping five seasons, 'and Jacqueline, at her core, is not,'" Krakowski said during the Q&A. "So I'm working on that part."
Kemper's character Kimmy will undoubtedly also draw comparisons to her breakout role as Erin on The Office for their shared naivete and enduring optimism. However, Kimmy's traumatic backstory gives her a bit more grit than Erin ever had.
"Kimmy has a resilience and tenacity that I think maybe Erin didn't quite have to the same extent because of the circumstances she was forced to go through. And I think you don't come out of that or you aren't able to survive something like that unless you have a fierceness and a very strong core," Kemper said during the Q&A.
Even Burgess' character seems very similar to the fan favorite D'Fwan from 30 Rock but a little less fabulous and a lot more broke. Burgess even accidentally referred to his Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt character as D'Fwan during the Q&A. But that really doesn't matter because just as D'Fwan stole scenes as Angie Jordan's hairdresser and sidekick on her reality show Queen of Jordan, he will steal your heart on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
The fact that Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt isn't on a network will also differentiate it from 30 Rock. Of course, the comedy was originally supposed to air on NBC this year, but it made the switch to Netflix at the end of 2014. The first two episodes, which were screened at the Netflix event, didn't seem to include anything that would make network censors blush, but the cast said some jokes were put back into the series when it made the move to Netflix due to the show having fewer restrictions and more time in each episode.
However, network TV was definitely still on the minds of the cast members during the Q&A. When asked what their favorite lines from Season 1 were, they hesitated to answer because they still felt they needed to keep the jokes under wraps.
"I'm so scared of spoiling. We were raised on network. We still believe in spoilers," Kemper said.
In the end, Kemper did end up divulging her favorite line from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which is already slated to have at least one more season after this one. For the record, it was, "Uranus is responding to the laser."
Oh, did you expect me to write, "spoiler alert" before that? Come on. This is Netflix we're talking about here.