Thursday, April 30, 2015

TV Review- The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

So if you missed Twitter blowing up about this show, its a new TV show from Tina Fey about a woman, Kimmy Schmidt, who's been in a doomsday cult since the 90s. She's just been rescued and decides to stay in New York City where she tries to rebuild her life.

The show is comedy and satire and if you're not super comfortable with a lot of things, then you probably won't find the humor enjoyable.

Which brings me to my main point. I enjoyed the show and watch the first season or what they have up so far. And although I enjoyed it, there were some things that bugged me about it.

One of the shows more debatable part of the show is its use of characters and stereotypes. Its protagonist Kimmy is white and her roommate is a black gay man. Other characters include, Dong, whose nae might get a lot of snickers from some people and some offensive scoffs from others. Kimmy and Dong bond over their names, which according to the show, both refer to male genitalia in their respective languages (Dong is supposed to be from Vietnam).

Critics have ratted on him because of his portrayal of a stereotypical Asian male that's often seen on TV and in white media. He has broken English, is good at math, and thinks that Americans are really weird. Some critics wish to see a better portrayal of Asians- especially Asian men. One where they're not seen as unattractive and "not as smart as we are expect in math".

Another character that faces problems is Kimmy's boss, Jacqueline, who we first meet as a rich Manhattan wife, and then we later find out that she's actually Native American who pushed back her culture heritage to go become "modern" and marry rich, 

"Meanwhile, Jacqueline’s subplot of reconnecting with her Native American roots is just a bit odd. She dyed her hair, plugged in some eye contacts and left her parents and backyard buffalo in order to follow the American Dream of marrying rich. It’s pretty random when introduced in Episode Three, feeling less like a curveball for her character arc and more like a sloppy hot dog chucked into the plot."- Gabe Bergado, The Daily Beast
 I kinda agree with this criticism about her character arc. While I do enjoy seeing representation of Native Americans in the show (let's face it, when do we ever see anything representing Native Americans except when arguing over sport team mascots and maybe Native American casinos?), I agree that it just seems kinda pushed in there and thrown in. But hopefully the show will further use it to grow her character even more, besides as coming to terms with her heritage.

One thing to remember though is that the show is satire, which means that it uses comedy as a mean to criticize today's society and tropes. Also is that its Tina Fey who is producing the show and is known to not shy away from humor that others might find a little bit too frank.

That being said, I thought there were some parts where the show took things a little bit too far and were a bit uncomfortable. They were those borderline areas of, "do I laugh or is this inappropriate to laugh at?".

I'm not quite sure how I feel about the whole, "rescued from a doomsday cult", plot line. While it presents a vehicle for the producers to critique the 21st century and compare it to the 90s, which some references its younger viewers might not get, I feel that it is a touchy subject and it really isn't one that should be light of too much.

Doomsday cults have a history of death and disasters following them and I think that its a topic that's not talked about as much as it should be. Which is one reason why I think its an interesting choice, but I think viewers should be sensitive to the fact that for the people drawn into these cults, they're not likely to believe their leader is wrong so quick and that for those drawn into them, getting out can be tricky.

Besides that, the show is pretty entertaining, and I did enjoy it. There's really no overarching sense of a plot line that I can feel besides Kimmy adapting to the 21st century. In other shows, you have a sense of what the characters are working for, but here its just episode to episode mostly somewhat new things.

I found myself continuing to watch the season despite m misgivings and enjoyed discussing the issues and satire that it presented with my roommates. I hope to see the show evolve and continue to be something that stands out from other shows and displays its relentless, unapologetic critique of society and our issues.


IMDB- Kimmy Schmidt
Wikipedia- Kimmy Schmidt
"The Dong Problem": How Kimmi Schmidt Deals with Race- The Daily Beast

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