Friday, April 22, 2016

REVIEW: 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' - Kimmy Remains Hopeful About a Future with Dong in 'Kimmy Gives Up!'

Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Episode 2.05 "Kimmy Gives Up!"

Kimmy needs to study for the GED, but she's worried about Dong getting deported. Jacqueline puts Buckley on Dyziplen to treat his hyperactivity.

Hope has gotten Kimmy Schmidt through a lot in her life. She wasn't broken by her time in the bunker. That experience took fifteen years away from her because she listened to the duplicitous reverend. She's still stunted in her growth in a lot of ways because of that harrowing experience. She continues to attest that she has moved on from that event and is no longer struggling with any emotional trauma from it. That's a lie. More importantly, she's still relying on hope to get through her life in New York even during its most heartbreaking moments. She's devastated that Dong chose to marry Sonia in order to stay in this country. She truly loved him. And now, she can't be with him for another two years because his citizenship means so much to him. She's still very hopeful that she'll be able to wait. And yet, that hope is keeping her from embracing any kind of true happiness in her life right now.

It has always been a good thing that Kimmy can rely on her strength, optimism and hopeful nature to survive in this harsh world. She has changed Titus, Jacqueline and Lilian's lives simply by being in it. She has helped them see things from a different perspective. She's a true friend to all of them and won't let their selfish and narcissistic desires from destroying their own pursuit of happiness. But Kimmy's relentless need to always be hopeful isn't always a good thing. It means she can waste so much time waiting for something that she completely misses something else that could be just as good. She's still holding on to the idea that she and Dong can be together. He has pushed her away consistently this season because he doesn't want her to jeopardize his immigration status. But she still finds ways to stay a part of his life. This episode reveals that that is not a healthy thing at all and could harm Kimmy's future as well.

After leaving the bunker and building a new life in New York, one of Kimmy's biggest goals was finishing her education. It was something she wanted to do for herself. She took the GED class very seriously. It was where she first met Dong. But now, her love for him ruins that accomplishment for her. She forces her way back into Dong's life to deliver a letter confirming his participation in the GED test. After that, she inserts himself into his struggles with his immigration officer. She helps present the illusion of a happy and healthy marriage between Dong and Sonia. But Kimmy takes it a step too far. When Sonia disappears for a little bit, Kimmy's true feelings creep out and threaten to destroy any possibility of happiness forever. She's not taking Dong's concerns seriously at all. So, he continues to push her away. But more importantly, she spends so much time with Dong that she falls asleep during her test. It's a devastating moment that happened because she wanted to keep hope alive.

In being hopeful about this situation, Kimmy is closing off any possibility for happiness to come from elsewhere. She refuses to give up on any situation. She wants to see a commitment through to the very end. She can't just quit Dong. But that's exactly what she needs to do. It's fantastic that Lilian is the one to point that out to her. Lilian is a little unhinged herself. But this season has incorporated her as the voice of reason to Kimmy and Titus in some wonderful ways. She knows as soon as Kimmy decides to deliver Dong's letter to him that it's going to cause trouble for Kimmy because she's holding onto this fantasy. Kimmy has wasted so many years of her life. And now, she's doing the exact same thing by waiting to be with Dong. She deserves to be happy right now. But that means she has to admit defeat and learn how to move on to an uncertain future. At least, she has a strong group of friends to help her get through it.

Lilian is also able to help Titus as he embraces new feelings of happiness. He's ecstatic and cheerful about his life right now. He's breaking into song constantly - which helps give this episode its hook as a musical episode. He's doing so because he has never been happier. Mikey is doing fantastic things for his self-esteem. Lilian is happy to see this new bounce in Titus' step. But he is soon riddled with doubt when she points out what's going on with him. He's happy and afraid that that will be ripped away from him just as quickly as it came. He's not used to being this happy. He's expecting something bad to happen soon. And yet, Lilian is able to help him embrace the good times because of the uncertainty of the future. He shouldn't walk through life worried about what might happen. He just needs to accept everything that is going well for him right now.

And lastly, Jacqueline is struggling as well but with her she's not sure how to be alone with her son, Buckley, for the first time in his life. She is used to having other people look after him for her. Buckley has never been an important part of the show. He helped bring Kimmy and Jacqueline together in the first place. But usually, he's just good for a brief joke before disappearing and never being important to the main story. Here, he is important because Jacqueline is realizing just how much of a handful he really is. She wants to just medicate him like the rest of her elite friends do with their kids. It's a fantastic trade-off too. Once Buckley goes on medication, he is a well behaved child who Jacqueline can take anywhere and not worry about him breaking something or making a mess. It's the peace and quiet every parent wants. But it's not real either. Jacqueline learns that this drug takes all of the fun out of life after she takes it too. She loses her love for clothes which devastates her later on. But this story helps bring mother and son together in a genuine way without Kimmy needing to be there as a buffer. That's a huge personal growth for Jacqueline. She still requires a lot from Kimmy but it's nice to see her being able to handle things by herself as well.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Kimmy Gives Up!" was written by Josh Siegal & Dylan Morgan and directed by Ken Whittingham.
  • Kimmy doesn't believe that Jacqueline should give Buckley any medication that she herself hasn't tried first. That seems like potentially horrible advice. In this case, it works because Dyziplen destroys Jacqueline. But it could be a lot worse with any other kind of medication.
  • Jacqueline's horrified scream when she realizes that Buckley wants to be Mark Wahlberg in his Transformers fantasy is priceless.
  • The show's fascination with Daddy's Boy continues to be so amusing. It's simultaneously sweet and creepy which really amplifies the comedic possibilities.
  • More fake musicals are also introduced here to wonderful effect - including Gangly Orphan Jeff (a spoof of Annie), an unauthorized Helen Keller musical, a take on Pinocchio from Stephen Sondheim, and the return of the black version of Oklahoma called Alabama.
  • Most of the musical elements of this episode are centered around Titus and the joy he is feeling. But Jacqueline gets to sing one line as well. It was all too brief though.
  • It also seems that Sonia is really crazy. She believes she's in a committed relationship with a statue of Neptune. But her love of making popsicles is fun.
  • School secretary: "Oh, you don't know Living Single. And yet, I'm suppose to know everything about Frasier?"
  • Jacqueline's doctor: "That's odd. We don't have an anatomy skeleton in this office."
  • GED test administrator: "If Dong is in a subway train traveling away from Kimmy at one trillion miles per hour. How long will you wait before you fudge up your life?"

As noted in previous reviews from this series, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.