So Netflix is here. And now that the hashtag has trended, the pros and cons have been weighed and the many Twitter jokes cracked, let’s talk about the most exciting thing about the portal being available to Indian TV lovers.
A host of shows that have never been released in India or would only be viewable weeks after the initial release the world over are now available for on-demand online streaming. All you need is the internet and the stamina to binge, binge, binge.
There is Orange is the New Black, which is understandably the biggest win for Netflix’s original production line-up, the more recent and explosive Narcos, Aziz Ansari’s very well appreciated Master of None and Vince Gilligan’s not-to-be-missed Better Call Saul, to name just a few. While these are usually streamed and downloaded through whatever means possible, Netflix will also introduce the audience to the brilliance of shows such as Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Co-written and co-created by the very funny Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is one of the best shows of 2015 and one that we can now watch legally. It’s the story of Kimmy (Ellie Kemper), one of the four Indiana Mole Women who are rescued after 15 years in the captivity of a crazy apocalyptic cult run by Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm). When Kimmy visits New York City for an interview, she decides to stay, bids farewell to three “bunker wives” and leaves her dark past behind.
Facing the sun after over a decade under the ground, Kimmy seems to be soaking up the colours she has missed. Add to that the enthusiasm and the fashion sense of a 14-year-old from the 1990s. As if making up for lost time, Kimmy is committed to seeing the brighter side of things and that is what makes her unbreakable. Made stronger by her hardships, Kimmy is full of great wisdom and advice, providing perspective and being generally enthusiastic about everything.
Kimmy emerges from the bunker into a world of hilarity and a lot of stereotypes about which, that being hidden away from the world for so long, she may not be aware. Her landlady is cuckoo, her roommate is gay and dreams of Broadway, and her employer (the awesome Jane Krowoski) is a shallow rich neurotic socialite with a secret. There is also an angsty teenager, who is angry because (surprise) she is actually a nerd, and a Vietnamese tutor-friend who works at a Chinese take-out place and is a math-genius.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt tells us the same story and the same joke against an unconventional and unexpected background. The show touches upon the painful subjects of abuse and captivity, but, in an extremely Tina Fey way, creates a character who is not a victim. Kimmy’s positivity, however awkwardly placed, is what makes her the star. Any show that hopes to create a character to signify everything bright and joyous puts itself in comparison with Amy Poehler’s incredible Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation. And just so you know, Kimmy, Leslie would be proud!
There is also a short cameo by Fey that serves two purposes. It reaffirms a universal fact that Fey is one of the funniest women on the planet. It also tells the world that she looks hilariously horrible in a perm wig. Hamm does an absolutely Mad Men job at convincing the jury that he, as Reverend Wayne, was justified in keeping the women captive for over a decade.
The core message is best depicted in the title track, which is an auto-tuned version of a TV interview of a man who saw the women being rescued. He accurately points out, “They alive, dammit. But females. Are strong as hell.” The song tends to stick in your head. So go ahead, binge and break into song all day.