During its breakout first season, Netflix original “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” told the story of the release of Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper, “The Office”) from a 15-year-long imprisonment in an underground bunker. While the first season established a plotline with a clear villain in the manipulative Reverend Wayne (John Hamm, “Mad Men”), season two takes on the role of the therapist. In 2015, “Kimmy Schmidt” became a household name with quick quips and relatable one-liners, an aspect that is not lost in season two. Though the jokes may carry the same humor, their intentions have shifted.
While season one primarily focused on drawing in laughs with a Tina Fey-esque brand of humor that the show is so well known for, season two draws greater attention to the comedy in a silent movement for change. This is particularly showcased during episode five, which satirizes the increasing problem of the overmedication of America's children. When Mrs. Voorhees (Jane Krakowski, “30 Rock”) is tasked with taking care of her child (quite possibly for the first time ever), she ushers Buckley (Tanner Flood, “Before I Sleep”) into the pediatrician’s office following a string of hyperactivity.
As absurd as it may seem on screen, such behavior is not uncommon among parents of overly-active children. While pediatricians tend to look at the physical causes of an illness, psychologists could take into account the mental state and behavior of their patients to make an informed diagnosis. Consequently, this can result in the overmedication of children like Buckley, whose pediatrician prescribes “dyziplen” to control (and I quote): “Hyperactivity, ADHD and Kanye West disorder.” While we might be watching Buckley’s monotonically calm behavior following medication as another punch line, we’re also actively learning about the sensitive issues that are often underrepresented in today’s media.
Alongside the driving forces behind the humor, “Unbreakable” touches on the delicate topics of moving on and letting go. Mrs. Voorhees strengthens her familial bonds, Titus (Tituss Burgess, “You Must be Joking”) finds love and Kimmy struggles to come to terms with her imprisonment with help from multiple people along the way, including Andrea (played by Fey herself), a drunk Uber passenger/therapist, who urges Kimmy to take control of her life to find happiness. As “Unbreakable” progresses, it also grows into a more mature series in a slow evolution of comedic drama. The new season is filled to the brim with musical numbers, smiles, and tears. Many of the situations, though absurd in nature, hit us right in our soft spots. We can’t help but ask for more of Kimmy and Titus, who steal the show. As Titus relates in a piano-led montage: “Sometimes the only way to go is to just go on.” “Unbreakable” is certainly moving to higher ground in the hierarchy of today’s television hits.