Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is back with season 3. It’s as funny as ever. Kimmy is no longer the wide-eyed child all new to the world after 15 years locked underground. She’s developed a certain mature wisdom – not always reliable, but she’s finding her way. This is a review of season 3 only and contains minor spoilers.
Star Ellie Kemper as Kimmy makes a journey of self-discovery. She does gig work, takes aptitude tests, goes to college. She meets a potential boyfriend named Perry (Daveed Diggs) who is studying philosophy and wants to be a reverend.
When Kimmy hears the word Reverend, she goes a bit crazy and hits Perry with a garbage can. (He did accept her apology later.)
Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm) is a trigger for her. Bunker is another of her trigger words.
At the beginning of the season Kimmy can’t get Richard Wayne Gary Wayne to leave her alone. He calls from prison several times a day asking her to sign divorce papers.
Everyone in the cast from Ellie Kemper on down is wonderful.
Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess) is Kimmy’s best friend/roommate. He has his own overwraught dramas in every episode. Titus does a whole episode that’s a Beyoncé Lemonade knock off, which he nails.
Another of Titus’ dramas involved leaving the cruise ship where he had a job working with Dionne Warwick (a wonderful Maya Rudolph). He rowed off in a lifeboat. He imagined that he ate poor Dionne while at sea, but he really ate all his paychecks. Later he becomes a radio hit singing a song about boobs. For most of the season, he’s trying to get his boyfriend Mikey (Mike Carlsen) back.
Landlady Lillian Kaushtupper (Carol Kane) is busy, busy, busy this season. She’s politically active! Lillian gets an episode all her own as she filibusters the district officials to try to keep out a grocery store chain. She meets Artie Goodman (Peter Riegert), who owns the grocery store chain she’s trying to keep out of her neighborhood. After a few episodes of fighting, they fall in love. Lots of shtupping ensues.
I’m all in favor of shtupping among older characters. Lillian and Artie were sweet together.
Jacqueline White (Jane Krakowski) is Kimmy’s friend. She marries Russ Snyder (David Cross/Billy Magnussen). She actually loves him, which is amazing for the superficial Jacqueline. Jacqueline harbors the secondary motive of trying to get the horrible Snyder family to change the name of the Washington Redskins to something not insulting to Native Americans. How she succeeds is Jacqueline all the way.
Russ gets smooshed and spends most of the season in a hospital. When he comes out of all the bandages he’s suddenly handsome. Lots of shtupping ensues.
Kimmy, Titus, Lillian and Jacqueline form the core of the 13 episodes in season 3 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
The guest stars are fantastic. Jon Hamm, Laura Dern, Andrea Martin, Ray Liotta, and Tina Fey are only a few. Rachel Dratch was hilarious as both members of a lesbian couple. Phyllis Somerville as the dead Meemaw had but one small scene with Jane Krakowski during which they cooked corn pudding. It was funny and super sexy.
A few of the guests appeared in more than one episode: Amy Sedaris, Dylan Gelula, Sara Chase, Sol Miranda, and Lauren Adams among them.
Pop Culture References
The episode with Lauren Adams as Gretchen, Kimmy’s former bunker mate, was a favorite of mine. Gretchen kidnapped a bunch of teen boys and wanted to have a cult of her own. It wasn’t as great as she thought it would be. The FBI enlisted Kimmy’s help in apprehending her.
Gretchen goes to prison. She rides up in a familiar bus. She gets off the bus and walks down a very familiar sidewalk with none other than Cindy (Adrienne C. Moore) from Orange is the New Black.
The mention of Orange is the New Black and Lemonade were not the only reference to other shows, movies, real people, real events, and real politicians. Many of the jokes involved pop culture mentions. Other jokes were word plays, puns and crazy names. One example: in the episode “Kimmy Steps on a Crack,” Kimmy breaks the back of FBI Agent Yermuther. This permits her to step on a crack and say, “I broke Yermuther’s back.”
In spite of the silly jokes in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, there were serious and deep themes running through it.
In the episode “Kimmy Can’t Help You!” Laura Dern’s character Wendy Hebert wanted Kimmy to divorce Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne. Wendy Hebert wanted to marry him. This brought the word “rape” to Kimmy’s lips for the first time in 3 seasons, as she tried to convince Wendy that the Reverend was not a good guy.
In a flashback, we see how Kimmy agree to marry the reverend so that newcomer to the bunker Donna Maria (Sol Miranda) wouldn’t have to. She knew what marriage to him meant, and she tried to protect Donna Maria from it.
Wendy was convinced that the reverend was “different with her.” Wow, how many women have said that about an abusive psychopath?
Kimmy hated talking or thinking about her time in the bunker. It was a trauma she couldn’t cope with yet. She stalled on signing the divorce papers for a while, just to have power over the reverend. But she couldn’t stand being in the space where she had to interact with him and finally signed them.
When Kimmy learned in the episode “Kimmy Googles the Internet” that everyone knew all about her life in the bunker she was terribly upset. Even Perry, the guy she bashed with a garbage can, knew about her past.
She went to see her old therapist Andrea Bayden (Tina Fey). Andrea was now selling earrings in the mall. And drinking vodka from a Big Gulp cup. (The product placement in the series was everywhere – and often funny.) Andrea gave her good advice: don’t worry about what other people think.
A religion theme ran through several episodes. Kimmy was afraid of religion because of her past traumas. Perry took her and Titus to church. Kimmy explored what religion meant and did. Her interpretation was funny, but spot on.
Part of the exploration of philosophy and religion that Kimmy and Titus went through involved learning how to be a better person. Kimmy wanted to be kinder and more generous. Titus needed to learn the difference between his flare for dramatic performance art and lying.
One of the episodes takes Kimmy to a college party with drinking and hooking up. She learns about sexual consent. Imagine that! The power to say, “No,” to sex.
Females are Strong as Hell
The audience is reminded in every episode by the theme song that women are strong as hell. Kimmy spent the season finding her strength, learning her power and claiming it. All the women characters made a similar journey, including Lillian and Jacqueline.
Kimmy found her greatest asset was emotional intelligence. In a time when people barely know how to interact with each other in person, emotional intelligence is a treasure. A force for good. And worth a paycheck.
Behind the Camera
Only a few episodes of season 3 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt were directed by women. Tina Fey and Robert Carlock share most of the writing credits, although there were a passel of writers, several of them women.
I’d love to hear your opinions about season 3 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Leave them in a comment.