Broke, but not broken

Broke, but not broken

JUst for laughs

Broke, but not broken

At the 13th Screen Actors Guild Awards, Tina Fey ended her acceptance speech with “Just tape The Big Bang Theory for once!” Many of you may remember how 30 Rock lost (ostensibly so) a bit of its sheen with the arrival of The Big Bang Theory that was being telecast at the same time on another channel in the US (NBC and CBS).

But that 30 Rock ran continuously well for seven seasons with steadfast loyalty from fans, making everyone jump with laughter, is indubitable. So, why did it last, despite rising contemporaries? Because of its unparalleled quirk that assimilated simple, yet strong characters.

And with heavy undertones of 30 Rock, courtesy of the same writer Tina Fey, along with Robert Carlock, came Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt around this time last year. Unconventional and embracing the oddities of life, to put it dilutely, this one is a far cry from the glamorous showbiz world that 30 Rock tried to portray, without resorting to mockery. This show is about 29-year-old Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper), who, along with three other women, is rescued from an apocalyptic cult in Indiana.

For 15 years, they were trapped in a bunker and made to believe that it was their “dumbness that had caused the end of the world”. With naivete so endearing, punctuated by streaks of rebellion from Kimmy, it is hard not to fall in love with a character like her’s. As she’s rescued, you can see that sunlight glinting on her happy face when she exclaims, “But it’s all still here.” And instead of going back to her town in Indiana, Kimmy decides to stay in New York City to avoid walking around with the victim label stuck to her forever.

As luck would have had it, she is robbed of all her money (which she carried in a backpack) in a club on her very first day in the city. Go back, New York will eat you up, she is told by her gay roommate (Titus Burgess at his melodramatic finest). But she refuses, because, as she says, she is not broken. Such an apt nomenclature the show has chosen for itself — they could have called it The Adventures of Kimmy Schmidt, but no, that would have been a generic understatement. Unbreakable, on the other hand, is captivatingly real.

Kimmy is someone who thinks laptops are big phones, says “tooken away” and yet knows a trick or two to help others and get by herself. The first few episodes are almost an elaborate detailing of her attempting to fit in the real world without letting others know of her past. Her stubborn and constant optimism and high spirits never once make you sigh out of exasperation; quite the contrary, they are indicators of her take on life.

The plot is every bit teeming with an underdog’s perspective about rich Upper East Side New Yorkers, struggling artistes on Times Square, spoilt teenagers succumbing to peer pressure and poor people living in basements. A subtle tint of satire and sarcasm pervades through the show, making you chuckle with glee — be it when the TV show host interviewing the Indiana mole women says, “I’m always amazed at what women will do because they’re afraid of being rude” or when Cyndee avers, “Matching tattoos are really popular now. Like taking pictures of your food, or being biracial.”

The ever-dependable Jon Hamm as the charming Reverend Wayne Gary Wayne succeeds in giving eccentricity a new form altogether, while Jane Krakowski effortlessly fits into her role of a trophy wife. The impeccable casting lends wholesome credibility to the goofiness that the situation comedy balances on.

Season two of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is set to release on Netflix next month. Re-binge watching season one would serve as a good recapitulation exercise. We all could use a dose of Kimmy in our lives, if not for the resilience, for the infectious zest and hope.