Friday, May 19, 2017

Humor Returns For Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 3!

The Good: Very funny, Good performances, Moments of character
The Bad: Meandering and predictable plots, Imbalance in main cast over the course of the season
The Basics: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season Three manages to develop the characters of the show while being very funny, making for the best season of the comedy yet.

When it comes to Netflix comedies, there have been few I have had more mixed feelings on than Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (reviewed here!) went in a far more dramatic direction than the first season would have indicated and I was not wowed by the addition of Amy Sedaris to the cast in the recurring role of Mimi Kanasis. Ultimately, Kimmy letting her narcissistic mother off seemed like a cheap resolution after the surprisingly deep psychological work Kimmy did throughout the rest of the season and ending the season at essentially the same place as the first (Jacqueline having left New York City in the first season was replaced with Titus having left New York City in the second, Titus being married as the big reveal at the climax of season one was replaced with Kimmy being revealed to be married at the end of season two) was utterly disappointing. So, when I sat down to watch Season Three of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, I was, admittedly, a little less excited about it than I might be with other shows.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 3 picks up the adventures of Kimmy Schmidt after she has been out of the bunker she was trapped in for fifteen years. Now living with wannabe actor Titus Andromedon in the basement of Lillian's apartment (tugboat), Kimmy has her GED and is working to un-entangle her life from that of the villainous Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne.

The thirteen-episode third season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt includes the episodes:

"Kimmy Gets Divorced?!" which finds Kimmy getting her G.E.D. She is inspired by Lillian to apply to college and encouraged by Jacqueline to delay signing her divorce papers. When Titus returns from the cruise, he is hesitant to track down Mickey because of his failure to come back with a lot of money, so he appeals to his enemy to get a job on Sesame Street. Lillian, now running for District Council, dumps Bobby and Kimmy learns just how expensive college will be, which leads her to take an alternate tact in her divorce,

"Kimmy's Roommate Lemonades!" is a concept episode that mirrors Titus Andromedon's relationship collapsing with parody tracks from Beyonce's Lemonade. Kimmy takes a tour of a local college where she meets a philosophy student after she discovers from a job aptitude test that her ideal career is "crossing guard." When Jacqueline attempts to present funds from her boyfriend's foundation to clean up the neighborhood, she is blocked by Lillian. When Lillian and Jacqueline both realize that Kimmy is the only registered voter in the neighborhood, both women attempt to exert influence over Kimmy to get her vote. As Titus recognizes his relationship with Mikey is doomed because he is Mike's first relationship as a gay man, Mikey realizes he has been having an emotional affair on Titus and both Titus and Kimmy have to make big decisions,

"Kimmy Can't Help You!" in which Jacqueline has her first real chance to get Russ's family to change the name of the Washington Redskins. Working with Russ, she tries to stage a fight with him as Russ's father's 75th birthday party, but in the process Russ gets slowly run over by a car. While Jacqueline stays by Russ's side, Russ's family sees her as a public relations victory to their team name problem. Back at the apartment, Titus and Kimmy meet the woman who wants to marry the Reverend when she brings the divorce papers there,

"Kimmy Goes To College!" - Kimmy joins the app Task Rabbit to earn money to afford tuition. She ends up running errands at Columbia University, where she is reunited with Xanthippe. While Lillian represents East Dogmouth on the District Council by filibustering against Big Naturals grocery store that wants to move there, Titus advances his singing career by providing backing vocals on right-wing songs,

"Kimmy Steps On A Crack!" which opens with Kimmy being approached by the FBI to talk Gretchen out of a situation she has gotten into. Jacqueline, meanwhile, entertains her new in-laws. Lillian helps diagnose Titus with scurvy and the two head out into Dogmouth to try to find fresh fruit. Gretchen has tried to form her own cult and the FBI is after her for taking children (as "child husbands") hostage. And, she's armed to the teeth!

"Kimmy Is A Feminist!" finds Kimmy going to a college party. There, she realizes that the privileged students going to Columbia are incredibly immature. Meanwhile, Jacqueline is besieged by her new husband's brother, Duke. Duke attempts to seduce her but with Titus and Lillian's help, Jacqueline works to get everything she needs to take on the NFL over the Redskin name!

"Kimmy Learns About The Weather!" opens with Titus having nightmare flashbacks of his time on the cruise. Kimmy tries to talk with Titus about Perry, but gets caught up with watching weather reports instead. Kimmy gets furious at how the weatherman is instilling fear in New York, while Titus goes on a quest against Big Pharma to get residuals for a commercial his voice was used in. And Lillian accidentally starts a strike, which leads her and Artie Goodman to have a surprisingly frank conversation.

"Kimmy Does A Puzzle!" has Titus finally explaining what happened to him on the cruise ship. When the storm hits New York, Kimmy, Titus, Artie and Lillian hunker down in Kimmy's new fun bunker. In Kimmy's "funker," Titus begins to unpack his horrible experience on the cruise.

"Kimmy Goes To Church!" has Titus bringing Kimmy to church on Good Friday. While Kimmy embraces the positivity of the church, Titus makes a new enemy in the form of an old woman whom he believes to be a busybody who is out to ruin his attempts to get into the choir. While Titus tries to entrap his adversary, Jacqueline encounters Diedre again. With Lillian's help, though, Jacqueline is able to move past caring about what other people think about her.

"Kimmy Pulls Off A Heist!" finds Jacqueline ready to take on the football owner's meeting to change the name of the Washington Redskins. That puts her at odds with her new father-in-law and Duke. Meanwhile, Titus becomes obsessed with getting a key from the local gas station where he does all of his bathrooming. Seeing the protest against the Redskins, Jacqueline comes up with a way to appeal to the management team's greed to get the name changed.

"Kimmy Googles The Internet!" where the title explains the whole premise. When Perry and Kimmy attend a soiree at a professor's house, she learns about Google because her professor tells everyone she was a Mole Woman. Looking up her online presence, Kimmy freaks out and goes in search of Andrea to make things right. At the same time, Titus starts dating Ruben, but freaks out when he learns about Ruben's daughter Linda. He comes to realize he is not truly over Mikey.

"Kimmy And The Trolley Problem!" puts Kimmy in a moral dilemma when her philosophy professor suggests she could do more to be a good person. Feeling low about herself, she agrees to appear on Xanthipe's campus television show to talk about her experience in the bunker. Jacqueline starts to get to know Russ after he comes out of reconstructive surgery looking amazing. Artie and Lillian start to plan their first trip together when Artie wants to take her to Europe. Jacqueline takes a meeting with executives at Bravo to try to get exposure for a charity important to her.

and "Kimmy Bites An Onion!" ends the season with Kimmy trying to pass a chemistry test and taking a job as a crossing guard. As Jacqueline fights for Titus's rightful compensation for "Boobs In California," Lillian tries to find Artie a new heart.

The third season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt remembers to bring back the funny while still maintaining the characters who have been established. Like the first season, the third season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has a lot of incredibly funny, laugh-out-loud hilarious lines. The non-sequitors are delivered expertly, while still maintaining the integrity of the show's characters.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is also delightfully daring by calling out the modern (faux-)feminist movement in "Kimmy Is A Feminist!" Graphically illustrating just how ridiculous the "we're empowered by doing everything men want us to do" argument is, "Kimmy Is A Feminist!" is fearless in its attack on the faux-left. . . while still being hilarious.

Finding the balance between humor, advancing the plots and advancing the characters while being true to them is a mark of good writing and the character work in the third season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is quite good. To better understand the characters, it helps to know that in the third season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the primary characters are:

Kimmy Schmidt - Now in possession of her G.E.D., she is determined to go to college. She contests the divorce with Reverend Wayne in order to get assets to fund her college tuition. She takes a job aptitude test to learn that her ideal career is that of a crossing guard and she begins to pursue a college degree with that as her goal. When she impresses the members of the crew team, she manages to get a full scholarship to Columbia University. She has to talk down her old bunkermate when Cyndi starts her own cult and the FBI is called in. She starts to develop a new romantic relationship, but rejects him when the philosophy major expresses a desire to get a divinity degree. She has a negative reaction to the infotainment version of weather reports in New York City and when she tries to survive the storm, she accidentally remakes the bunker experience with her friends. When she learns about Google, she becomes terrified that Perry knows her deepest secrets.

Titus Andromedon - Washing up on a beach, he returns home broke. He is furious with Mikey when he sees his boyfriend go into his home with another man. He sees in Mikey's desperation a mirror of his first failed relationship and sets Mikey free, even after rejecting a sexual harassment advance that would have landed him a good job on Sesame Street. He gets scurvy and has to eat fruits and vegetables for the first time in a very, very, very long time. He works to help Jacqueline fend of Duke by playing straight and interested in her. His voice is used for a bladder control commercial against his will. He gets told off by Kimmy when he acts self-centered during the funker experience. He starts to reject Reuben when he learns his new paramour has a daughter named Linda.

Jacqueline White (formerly Voorhees, now Snyder?) - She encourages Kimmy to use her divorce to get back at Reverend Wayne. Still dating the do-gooder Russ, she tries to improve Lillian's neighborhood and finds herself at odds with her friend. She starts working with Russ to get the Washington Redskins name changed, but accidentally gets Russ run over and marrying him when he is unconscious instead! She recovers Russ's grandmother's secret recipe for corn pudding and has to cook for the first time in years! She fends off Russ's brother, Duke, with Titus and Lillian's help, getting the keys to defeating her new in-laws in the process. She leads the fight from within to get the Redskins name changed, even though her family does not believe in her. When Russ is about to come out of the Smoosh Ward, she takes care of Mimi in preparation and freaks out.

Lillian Kaushtupper - Now running for District Council, she dumps Bobby because he is the son of the biggest neighborhood developer in the area. Determined to keep the neighborhood from gentrification, she is elected by convincing Kimmy to vote for her. Once elected, though, she finds her power on the District Council is exceptionally limited. She takes a stand against Big Naturals and ends up as their community support liaison. She actually finds herself relying on Big Naturals to get Titus healthy and she helps Jacqueline fend off Duke. When she mentioned the 2nd Avenue Subway to Artie, she is shocked when Goodman actually revives the long-dead project! She starts a real relationship with Artie later on and they both have to wrestle with their past relationships while developing their new relationship.

Russ - Recognizing that his father, the owner of the Washington Redskins, hates him but loves Jacqueline, he works with Jacqueline to change the team's name. When his brother is promoted to owner, Russ gets run over by a car and while he is in traction, his family convinces Jacqueline to marry him! He eventually comes out of the coma and traction and renews his relationship with his new wife. Unfortunately, looking traditionally good leads to some unfortunate personality changes for the man who was once a social justice lawyer.

Mikey - After having what he believed was an innocent friendship with another man, he is dumped by Titus. He starts to date after Titus pushes him away, but he does not seem nearly as happy as when he was with Titus.

and Artie Goodman - The owner of the massive Big Naturals grocery store chain, he calmly deals with Lillian's hatred for his development of East Dogmouth. Slowly, he convinces Lillian that he is a good guy who wants to help the people of her neighborhood. He has a heart problem that leads him to try to get the most out of life.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 3 is a lot of fun and it includes a fun crossover with Orange Is The New Black and a wonderful recurring role played by Peter Riegert. Riegert plays Artie very calmly and when he delivers some of the season's funniest lines, his deadpan is amazingly funny! As well, Tina Fey helped get many of her 30 Rock co-stars cameos in the third season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The little guest roles are funny and seeing Scott Atsit and Judah Friedlander again is wonderful!

Ellie Kemper and Tituss Burgess are incredible in the third season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Burgess and Kemper have both great comic timing to land the jokes and surprisingly serious deliveries to accurately sell the dramatic moments. Ultimately, the third season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a good balance of humor and genuine character development.

For other works from the 2016 – 2017 television season, please check out my reviews of:
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 4
Sense8 - Season 2
Dear White People - Season 1
"Out Of Time" - Legends Of Tomorrow
"Oxygen" - Doctor Who
The Walking Dead - Season 7
Thirteen Reasons Why - Season 1
Grace And Frankie - Season 3
Iron Fist - Season 1
Love - Season 2
Santa Clarita Diet - Season 1
A Series Of Unfortunate Events - Season 1
One Day At A Time - Season 1
Travelers - Season 1
The OA - Season 1
Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life
"Invasion!" - Arrow
"Infantino Street" - The Flash
"Resist" - Supergirl
Luke Cage - Season 1
Stranger Things - Season 1


For other television reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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