TV Review - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 3

Ellie Kemper continues her exuberant, adorable, bubbly and gung-ho upbeat spirit as the titular Kimmy Schmidt, a young woman who was kidnapped as a teenager and forced to marry a man who held her and several, other women hostage in an underground bunker. It is perhaps the darkest premise for a comedy series as light and silly in tone as this show constantly and consistently is. In a way, it allows the series to be edgy and even provocative. There's nothing, no topic the show shies away from.

To give you an idea of how edgy, the first episode of this season has a puppeteer for Sesame Street turned into a sexual predator. Bill Barretta, a real-life puppeteer for Jim Henson's company since the 90's, plays the twisted predator with a puppet on his hand. It's crazy, but it's the funniest thing I've probably ever seen and it kicks off what is a great run this year. The show is a bombardment of jokes from every character and all of it works.

The story focuses on Kimmy attempting to go to school and figure out what her career will be. The show includes her three friends and this season also focuses on issues with her friends' careers. Kimmy's roommate and best friend, Titus gets an unexpected music career after things go horribly wrong during his work cruise. Kimmy's former boss, Jacqueline has to take on the NFL and Kimmy's landlord, Lillian has to deal with working in politics. All do so while also juggling chaotic loves lives.

Kimmy, Titus and Lillian all have potential, new, love interests. Jacqueline has two new love interests. One is the brother to her old, love interest and the other is her old, love interest but with a new face and a sexier body.

Daveed Diggs, Tony-winner from Hamilton, plays Perry, a man who catches Kimmy's eye. Michael Benjamin Washington, a Broadway performer, plays Reuben, a man who more catches Titus' ear. Peter Riegert, an Oscar and Emmy-nominee, plays Artie Goodman, a politician and businessman who catches everything of Lillian.

Josh Charles (Sports Night and The Good Wife) returns as Duke Snyder, the brother to Jacqueline's husband Russ. Duke is a bit of a man-child, a competitive, entitled jerk. He lives to put down his brother and take what's his.

David Cross (Arrested Development) briefly returns as Russ, the black sheep of the family. The under-appreciated and under-loved sibling. Billy Magnussen (Into the Woods and The Big Short) takes over the role and Jacqueline has to deal with Russ' new looks. It's a total soap opera move but more comedically handled.

In addition to the aforementioned actors who have amazing, supporting roles, there is also a slew of guest stars who really bring a lot to this series. All are well-written, quirky characters that are absolutely funny to hilarious and all enliven an already lively narrative. Those include Ratchel Dratch in a dual role, Laura Dern, Maya Rudolph, Ray Liotta and Tina Fey herself, reprising her drunk lady character.

This series just has scene after scene of inventive and insane, comedy bits. One is more ridiculous than the other as it goes along, but somehow it all makes some kind of sense. Tituss Burgess who plays Titus, a black, gay, overweight man, seems to get a bulk of the humor to carry. His big, loud personality naturally steals scenes and pulls focus, but this season, there appears to be a concerted effort to dig into the Titus character. An arc for example reveals Titus to be a possibly bad guy and not the man Kimmy thought.

Nevertheless, everything he does is so hilarious. He does a lot of singing and all his songs are gut-busting and absurd. His rendition of BeyoncĂ©'s Lemonade is killer. His version of "Hold Up" where the lyrics are altered to fit Titus' situation with his boyfriend Mikey, played by Mike Carlsen, is so funny. It all climaxes with an original song that works as an even crazier spoof or Weird Al Yankovic-type song called "Boobs in California."

This show can do throwaway jokes that are meant to be absurd. Yet, Fey and her writers can also be spot-on in their social commentary and even social criticism. The theme of feminism for example is one such that the show comments on and criticizes in the modern era.

The show is also equal opportunity in what it makes fun of. Left-wing ideas are mocked just as much as right-wing ideas. There is overall a progressive and inclusive tone. It's odd that the Asian character, played by Ki Hong Lee, which brought the show a lot of controversy in its first two seasons, is gone, but it's a show that feels balanced.

Rated TV-14.
Running Time: 30 mins. / 13 eps.


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