Sunday, March 8, 2015

REVIEW: 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' - Kimmy Tries Talking About Her Past Trauma in 'Kimmy Goes on a Date!

Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Episode 1.03 "Kimmy Goes on a Date!"

Kimmy and Jacqueline try to hide their pasts, while Titus lies to Lillian about money so he can spend it on head shots for his future.

Being held captive in a bunker for 15 years was a traumatic experience. Kimmy didn't know it at the time because she was led to believe that the world around her had ended. But now that she knows better, she is seeing what those years actually were. She doesn't want it to be the sole thing defining herself. However, she can't just completely forget about it either. This experience has effected her in more ways than she was expecting. She is constantly talking to herself now. It's not just a quirk from her always upbeat personality. It's because she had to talk to herself to keep herself entertained while in the bunker. The show isn't shying away from the trauma of its core premise. Kimmy awakes one night from a nightmare choking Titus in his bed. Another she awoke to see herself cleaning a knife in the bathroom - and she still has no clue for what she used it. She is actively hiding this portion of her live from the people in her orbit right now. She just wants to forge ahead to form new relationships.

As Titus so accurately points out though, "People love hearing terrible details of news tragedies. 1.) It's titillating like a horror movie. 2.) It makes them feel like a good person because they care about a stranger. and 3.) It makes people feel safe that it did not happen to them."

And yet, Kimmy can't just completely forget about those 15 years because it's proving to still be doing damage to her psyche. She needs to talk about it to someone who won't react with judgment. Titus is her friend right now and the only person who knows the truth about her in New York City. She doesn't want to ruin their bond any further by providing all of the details to him. But she can't really seek professional help either because she doesn't have the money to afford it. So, she ends up getting set up on a date with a rich, elderly friend of Jacqueline's named Grant Belden. He believes he's still fighting in World War II. He's talking nonsense from the very first moment Kimmy mets him. She sees that as a good thing. She is able to say whatever she wants to him about her past and he has almost no reaction to it. He's living in his own world and Kimmy hopes it'll be good just to say the things out loud. That's not the solution she's hoping it would be. She learns there has to be some understanding from the other party in order to help her deal with this trauma and move on with her life.

Kimmy's search to escape her past is also paired nicely with Jacqueline's personal story in this episode. Thematically the two stories work nicely opposite each other. The core defining arc of Jacqueline is summed up in her line: "Why does it matter where I'm from? It's where I'm going that counts." As seen so far, Jacqueline has been a woman who has achieved wealth and success. And now, we get some insight into from where she started this journey. That's where the awkwardness comes. Apparently, Jacqueline is of Native American descent who changed her outer appearance so she could be seen as a white woman. It's such a random story to try to tell. Why in the world should anyone have Jane Krakowski play a Native American? It just doesn't realistically work. The idea of accepting a white identity in order to go further in life is a strong one. It only works though with someone who could pull off those different identities. Krakowski shouldn't be playing Native American. It's a story the show is only half-interested in fleshing out. It shows that Jacqueline can identify with the struggle that Kimmy and Titus are having right now. But the details of all of it just seem off - and potentially morally wrong.

So Jacqueline stands up to her stepdaughter when she attacks Kimmy for not being forthcoming with who she is. Xan thinks it's odd how Kimmy talks and how she didn't have a cell phone. Kimmy had a pretty great lie about it getting stolen from a monkey to cover up that the fact. But I still don't think Xan completely bought the excuse. Xan wants answers because this person has become so close to the family so quickly. When Jacqueline runs into Kimmy on her run, she is glad to help her lure Grant back to his apartment before he can cause any more trouble because he believes they are German spies. Jacqueline doesn't need to know why. She sees value in Kimmy and that's enough for her to trust her with being in their lives - as well as standing out and grounding her stepdaughter.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Kimmy Goes on a Date!" was written by Jack Burditt & Robert Carlock and directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller.
  • Titus gets his own subplot again where he spends the day at a funeral for a man he doesn't know with Lillian because he doesn't want her to know that he has money. It's worth it for the awkwardness of his performance of Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love To You." But I'm definitely looking forward to more Kimmy-Titus plots away from their apartment interactions.
  • I'm still not certain what Lillian's purpose is in this universe but she has definitely been a pleasant and unique voice to have available.
  • Even though he's largely back in the war, Grant still makes a Wilson from Castaway joke when Kimmy says she started talking to a ball she drew a face on. Between this and FOX's The Last Man on Earth, I guess that's what everyone would do in this kind of extreme circumstance. Or at least make a joke about it.
  • Charles may be failing the third grade for Buckley but he took immense pleasure from seeing him get hit with a ball at lacrosse practice. So much so that he wants to go the next day to keep Kimmy company.
  • Buckley: "We owned people!" Jacqueline: "We still do honey."
  • Kimmy: "Yeah Xan, the monkey was a woman. Women can be anything these days."
  • Kimmy: "I'm a mole woman." Siri: "That's messed up."