Unbreakable’s popularity highlights the indefatigable spirit of Netflix binge-watchers. 


Any show can be binge-watched, but few are as delightfully weird and addictive as the new Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which Netflix plopped gingerly into its streaming service this month.

House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black also descend in full-season form from the benevolent Netflix overlords, and that’s great for people with the time and concentration to spare for 13-ish hours of intricate plotting.

As a half-hour sitcom, Unbreak-able Kimmy Schmidt is a bit less intimidating. Not only is the time commitment more manageable at 7 1/2 hours, but there are fewer worries about big plot twists being ruined — largely because there are none.

Sure, a few guest stars make cameos along the way, but it won’t ruin any of the fun knowing that Nick Kroll and Dean Norris show up. The show revolves around Kimmy Schmidt, played by the effervescent Ellie Kemper (best known from her turn as Erin on The Office). One of four women rescued from a doomsday cult after 15 years in an underground bunker, she decides not to return to Indiana with the others. Instead, she stays in New York City, where her notoriety won’t define her.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. Slowly but surely, her friends and acquaintances learn the truth about her past. But before that, her experiences (and lack of experiences) shape her life.

Kemper plays Kimmy with unrestrained glee. The fish-out-of-water story is exaggerated, as her displacement from society for more than a decade means that smartphones and automatic sinks are still new to her, but the sometimes dangerous and confusing New York City is a joy to someone who spent years underground.

The often-unwilling guide through her new life is roommate Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), who finds a measure of inspiration from Kimmy’s unbreakable spirit. Still, this show comes from the 30 Rock pedigree, so reality often intrudes and tramples some of the conventional sitcom plots.

Jane Krakowski plays Kimmy’s boss, Jacqueline Voorhees, in a manner reminiscent of her role as Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock — she’s vapid, self-centered and generally bad at being a human being. It’s enjoyable seeing this character again, especially bouncing off a different type than Liz Lemon. Jacqueline and Kimmy have a new dynamic. Liz knew how ridiculous Jenna was. It takes Kimmy a while to see just how dysfunctional Jacqueline and the rest of the Voorhees family are.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt gets better as it gets weirder. The themes stay grounded, but as the plots make wildly divergent turns, the show gets funnier. There’s high re-watchability potential for each episode, as the writers have packed each scene with gags it might take a few viewings to catch. Credit the amazing cast for its nuanced work in jokes that might otherwise be too broad to land.

Thankfully, we won’t have to say, “Troll the respawn, Jeremy!” to the show for too long.

Netflix knows it has a winner and has already put in an order for a second 13-episode season.

In the meantime, get to watching. You’ll want to know why everybody is rhyming pinot noir with midsize car.

Print headline: Couched, Unbreakable’s popularity highlights the indefatigable spirit of Netflix binge-watchers.

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