The first two episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt center on Kimmy starting her life anew in New York City after being rescued from the doomsday cult bunker of Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne. Kimmy, played by Ellie Kemper, is determined to succeed in New York, approaching every situation with her optimism and childlike behavior.
The writers of the first two episodes, Tina Fey, Robert Carlock, and Sam Means, are old co-collaborators on the show 30 Rock, a show that also focuses on the struggle of a woman trying to make it in New York City. Feminist undertones are present throughout the show, probably the influence of Tina Fey. Even the theme song begins every episode with “females are strong as hell.” Kimmy’s motivation for staying in New York? To not continuously be identified as one of the “Mole Women” and give into her male oppressor by letting him continue to rule her life. Contrary to other shows, only one male character has appeared as a recurring cast, Titus, whose behavior goes against the traditional “macho” man.
The dialogue is witty and fast, playing off our expectations of the characters. For example, Kimmy misses uses old pop references like Michael Jackson because she spent time without contact to the modern world. Jacqueline’s lines usually relate to her status, citing Givenchy and her husband’s flights to London and Tokyo. This is also displayed in her actions like when she throws a full water bottle away after Kimmy rejected it. Titus’s lines are usually related to his acting career or his self-absorbance. Silences are usually reserved for times when the audience needs to learn something. In the second episode, there is silence when Xanthippe is sneaking out the house and when Jacqueline is crying. Silence is also utilized to bring attention to characters reactions to events.
Something I’ve noticed is that the writers seem to have written every episode like a parable, relying on familiar archetypal characters. Kimmy is the naïve girl trying to escape her past and reinvent herself in New York; Titus is a struggling actor; Jacqueline is the privileged, upper-class second wife. The writers offset Kimmy’s naivety with her experience in the Bunker with Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne. Both episodes end with Kimmy resolving conflicts with a combination of her optimism and her experiences in the Bunker, leading to a believable and funny narrative. In the first episode “Kimmy Goes Outside,” Kimmy’s naivety causes her to want to return to New York, but her optimism convinces her to stay and push Titus back into his acting career. In the second episode, Kimmy tells Jacqueline and subsequently, the audience to get through troubles by taking it 10 seconds at time, a rule I’ll be keeping in mind from now on.