English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Author: Lukas Hessler

Kimmy Schmidt: Why it all Works

Kimmy Schmidt is a fictional plot about one girl who was kidnapped by a reverend when she was only 13 years of age, kept in a underground bunker for 15 years convinced that there was no life above her and that everything she previously knew and loved had perished in an apocalypse. She then is found and rescued by the U.S. government at the age of 28 and must live without any source of viable income in the cutthroat city of New York, where she is constantly deceived by others who try to con her money or make her do sexual favors.  All the while she must remain a strong witness and figure in convicting her cynical kidnapper. This is a very dark plot that could be the plot to a high intensity, multi season drama series, but this is the polar opposite of dark and dramatic.. I may not even be too bold to claim that Kimmy Schmidt: Unbreakable may be the funniest thing I have ever watched. But how does a show with such a dark premise create such a comedic tone… well I’ll tell you.

The most prominent aspect of the comedy within the show is the delivery of lines. This show has many different comedic aspects within it but the one portion that really makes the audience hurl over from laughter is the deadpan delivery of nonsensical dialogue.  For those unaware, deadpan is a mechanism of comedy in which one person says or does something funny during a scene and no character on screen laughs or reacts at all to the action, acting like it is completely normal.  This contributes because this series thrives off of nonsense even in the most intense moments of the show, and when witty, nonsense is spewed back and forth between characters of the show in very intense moments, you just can’t help but laugh as an audience member.

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Quote from Kimmy Schmidt

Another aspect that contributes to the comedic tone of the show is the pop culture references and the very modern material that is portrayed.  Kimmy was born in the mid 1980s as previously stated, so naturally there are many 90s pop culture references as well as the current day references that often times are completely nonsensical because Kimmy was only a child during the 90s and still technically has the cultural awareness of a child as she has just been released from a barren bunker separated from the outside world.  This allows for Kimmy (and less often her supporting characters) to make inappropriate, and often nonsensical but comical, comments that are also hilariously delivered through deadpan dialogue about pop culture.

Though there are many factors that contribute to the comedy within the very intense plot line of the series meshing well, I firmly believe that the deadpan delivery of dialogue and the frequent culture references are key to the comedy that has allowed Kimmy Schmidt.

Peace out Blog Posts.

Kimmy Schmidt and its Thematic Intricacies

The episode I will be thematically analyzing in this blog post is “Kimmy Goes to Court” (Season 1, Episode 12). Being the second to last episode in the season, the main issue revolving around Kimmy’s kidnapping comes to a head in this episode where Kimmy must testify in court, face to face with her kidnapper.

In this episode there are a couple of arguments trying to be conveyed to the audience, but the overarching message conveyed in this chapter of Kimmy Schmidt’s adventure is to stay true to your values even when faced with adversity.  In this episode Kimmy is faced with the extremely challenging task of having to face her kidnapper in court.  Even while everyone in the court is siding with her charismatic kidnapper in court (her own prosecution team included) and not recognizing Kimmy’s plight, she puts her head down and works herself to find evidence that will surely convict her kidnapper even when she is made the enemy of the very situation in which she was victimized.

This episode promotes the prominent theme of the entire series which is the power of the individual.  Throughout the season, Kimmy is forced to relearn about the world she departed for nearly a decade in the most fast-paced, overwhelming city in the nation, New York City and is forced to adapt and persevere with just her will power and strength.  This theme is found even before the series begins when flashbacks demonstrate to the audience how Kimmy would constantly defy her barbaric male kidnapper who greatly disrespected the women that he kidnapped through harsh words and unusual tasks.  Not to mention, Kimmy defies everyone by getting a job and having a quality life in New York City even after society pities her for being a mole woman victim.  Kimmy wants to be more than that, so she does.  She proves that the strength of individuals can really be something special when the individual is determined to accomplish a desired goal.

This theme is a great one for today and especially in the college environment we find ourselves in as students. For example, I write this blog post right now, I am in the middle of intramural season, have two midterms this week, a job interview, loads of homework and a social life to keep up; however, persisting as an individual through difficult times is possible and is what makes us all grow. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent and this idea is accurately displayed to the audience of Kimmy Schmidt.

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Kimmy’s kidnapper, Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (John Hamm) charming the jury during his testimony

The Evolving Cinematography and Direction in Kimmy Schmidt

After being trapped in a bunker for a decade, Kimmy finally experiences the lively world she has been missing out on for the past ten years and the lighting and direction style certainly reflect this situation throughout the entire series.  In this post, I will be analyzing the cinematography and direction in the episode titled “Kimmy Goes to a Party!” (Season 1, Episode 7)  of Kimmy Schmidt: Unbreakable, and more specifically how this episode provides a stark contrast to those previously in the first season.

Early on in the season, the first episodes are filled with quick, snappy cuts that make the viewers feel almost overwhelmed. This is deliberately done to make the viewer feel as Kimmy does living in the overwhelming city of New York after being locked in a bunker for 10 long, tedious years.  However, after Kimmy gradually adjusts to this lifestyle episode by episode, the direction changes as cuts become longer and more problematic situations start to thicken the plot of the series. This episode is filled with suspense as Kimmy attempts to impress a guy she likes and Jacqueline Voorhees faces paranoia regarding a possible affair her husband had.  Naturally, this episode is filled with some of the longest shots of the whole series as the characters must face these issues and invoke a sympathetic response in the audience toward the character’s issues (which is nearly impossible to do with the short shots that are common throughout the show).

In regards to the lighting, the show is filled in this episode, and the whole series for that matter with vibrant color as Kimmy is re-experiencing life in the lively New York City after being held captive in a lifeless, gray bunker for the previous 10 years.  The costumes within this episode, like all episodes in the series, are vibrant, appealing to the visual eye of the audience.  Kimmy is the perfect example of the vibrant color scheme of the show as she is always wearing some sort of clothes with highlighter pink, yellow or blue coloration.  Even with the very bright lighting of a show set in New York City, the director makes it an apparent goal to make sure to go the extra mile by creating a vibrant wardrobe and including other items with playful colors to enhance the jubilant, open lighting of the episode to contribute to the warm-feeling shots of the episode.

Even with the bright lighting, this episode is not to unique from the whole series as a whole.  The entire series is filled with the aforementioned color schemes and lighting in this episode.  With that being said, it should be re-emphasized that the lighting in this series is wholly unique. I have never watched a show that was this visually playful and it truly contributes to the jubilant experience that the show is meant to be for the viewing audience.

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Kimmy Schmidt showing her true 1996 kid style with the iconic bright yellow kids button down sweater

Kimmy Schmidt Experiencing Life!

In this post I will be analyzing the writing in the first episode of Kimmy Schmidt: Unbreakable, titled “Kimmy Goes Outside!” where Kimmy finally is able to get out of the bunker she has been living in for 10 years and decides to move to New York City.

The title episode’s writing was helmed by two very well known writers in the comic scene today, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. Tina Fey is known for being a pioneer for females after she broke through the male-dominated comedic writing profession and was hired to be the first ever female sketch writer on Saturday Night Live.  Besides her illustrious SNL career, Fey also wrote the screenplay for Mean Girls (2004), as well as created and wrote the popular TV show 30 Rock.  Similarly to Fey, Robert Carlock also worked as a writer for SNL and 30 Rock, while also taking part in writing for the well known television series Friends.  The hilariously clever, and random deadpan humor that viewers have enjoyed from these writers for years perfectly translates to the odd plot of Kimmy Schmidt and allows audiences to have a jubilant experience while watching Kimmy leave the bunker and go out into the real world.

The dialogue in this first episode is very snappy and quick.  After all Kimmy is experiencing so many things for the first time in this episode! There is no time for any emotional monologue, she is practically still a kid in a women’s body as she has not matured since she went into the bunker during her childhood.  As previously stated, the script in this episode is filled with quick, random one liners to promote the absurdity of the whole situation and to get the audience to laugh at the nonchalant, deadpan humor and enjoy the characters on screen.

With that, it should also be noted that the episode has almost no silent/dull moments! Kimmy is now living in New York City, a place that Titus (a supporting character) expresses “will chew you up and spit you out… like lunch”.  The lack of silence promotes the rushed and exciting tone of the whole script throughout the title episode where Kimmy is eating candy for dinner for the first time, running with strangers who are out for a run, partying at a club for the first time, and making up for all the lost time she spent in the bunker.

I believe the writing in the title episode is perfectly executed. Fey and Carlock use deadpan humor perfectly to make the audience laugh while also using pathos to get the audience to sympathize with Kimmy’s plight, causing them to want to keep binge watching the show, which is ultimately the objective of the first episode.  The writing put on paper is perfectly edited and acted for a quick episode filled with snappy, witty and humorous dialogue which I have enjoyed and look forward to enjoying as I continue to watch the series. WATCH KIMMY SCHMIDT!

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Lillian commenting on Kimmy’s clothes



Hello! My name is Lukas Hessler, and I am a first year here at Tech studying Industrial Engineering.  I hope to complete my undergraduate degree within 4 and a half years so I can head back to work in Southern California (where I am from) sooner rather than later and start work.

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Me on a beach

1102 is my first and last English course I will take at Georgia Tech, and I am really looking forward to it.  In high school, the thing that irritated me the most about my English courses was that they were always the same course work: reading, analyzing and writing essays.  English has always been my least favorite subject because I always hated the tedious cycle I went through year after year. However, I am super excited to learn about the relationship between the entertainment medium of Television and the social wave of Feminism. Not to mention, learning about these topics while completing fun, interactive projects such as the ongoing Twitter posts and Blog posts is something I really look forward to.

In regards to the WOVEN methods of communication that we will also be studying this semester, I believe I communicate most strongly through the Oral method as I feel more confident in sharing my opinion while also being able to express emotions and sentiments toward others. On the contrary, I think I will most struggle with the written method of communication as I have never solid prose in English writing assignments but I hope to improve in my communication via the written mode of communication.

As of recently I have not been watching very much TV at all but I do re-watch episodes of Friends, The Office, Parks and Rec, and Workaholics on streaming services occasionally.  However I am looking forward to watching more TV series and hopefully rekindle the love for the television industry that I used to have when I would watch Spongebob everyday before elementary school.

With that being said, this semester I will be watching and studying the TV Series “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”.  The sole reason I chose to study the intricacies of this series is because my older sibling loves watching the show and talked me into watching it.  I have been told that the show is about a group of girls, one being the main character Kimmy Schmidt, who were kept underground in a nuclear bunker by a priest who convinced them the world had ended and that they couldn’t go outside.  The series begins when all the girls get saved from the bunker by the government after nearly a decade.  The series tracks the main character, Kimmy Schmidt,  getting accustomed to the world that she hasn’t seen since she went into the bunker. It’s seems like a very interesting premise and I’m looking forward to watching and analyzing the series!!

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My face when I can watch TV for homework




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