One of the many cool things about raising a teen is that you get a whole new perspective on entertainment. Take music, for instance. When I was a teen, I used to look at my dad (who hated Rock with a passion he usually reserved for socialists, communists, and people that requested “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” when he was playing a gig), and think “When and how did he decide that the only music he was interested in was OLD music?” I mean, he kinda got stuck in the 60s, with three-chord rock being his idea of what modern music was all about. I’d take him an album of, say Blood Sweat & Tears, or maybe Emerson, Lake & Palmer. He’d listen and say “Hmm…not bad.” Then he’d go back to mocking “She Loves You Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” as the deepest lyric one might find in Rock. (To be sure, I would muster all the sarcasm of which a teenage boy is capable – not an insignificant thing, you realize – and riposte with an arched eyebrow and an “Oh yeah…well explain ‘Boom, Boom Didum-Daddum Waddum, Choo!’ to me, if you would be so kind.”
So I’ve made an effort NOT to submerse myself in the joys of Real Jazz on SirusXM, and taken a stab at listening to some (but not all – I have my limits!) to what my daughter listens. (I draw the line at ‘rap.’ You cannot spell “C-R-A-P” without “RAP.”)
But her education for me does not stop at music. She’s also constantly showing me videos to watch (many of which make me think that “Short Attention Span Theatre” is a thing), and new shows that I would otherwise miss. I was pleasantly surprised to find a little gem of a show, courtesy of my offspring, on Netflix, and I highly recommend it: “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”
The Tina Fey-produced show is available for binge-watching now. It stars Ellie Kemper (NBC’s The Office) as a woman rescued from a bunker, where she and three other women had lived after being kidnapped by a wacko, doomsday preacher. It revolves around her adventures, post-bunker, when she moves to NYC.
If you enjoy sly pop culture and political references, snappy dialog, and the same kind of slightly off-kilter sensibilities last seen in “Pushing Daises,” THIS is the show for you.
Now you might expect, from the description, that this would be yet another show taking pot shots at the Right, Christianity, et all. Nope. It is an Equal-Opportunity Destroyer of every sacred political and social cow on the Left, Right AND Center. In the latest episode I caught, Kimmy’s best friend, a (flaming) gay black actor, goes to a mentor to teach him how to pass for straight. By the time they are through, they’ve skewered straights, gays, and singled out Tom Cruise, George Clooney, Barak Obama (!) and Hulk Hogan for attention. Fearlessly.
The show is laugh-out-loud funny, and has enough absurd touches to keep even the most jaded viewer engaged. The supporting cast is terrific, too. Titus Burgess strikes just the right balance as the gay/black/actor/singer (he has an amazing voice, too), Jane Krakowski is at her blondest and bitchiest, and Carol Kane does what she does best. A host of guest stars liven it up, too…Martin Short bloody well steals one episode, and Tim Blake Nelson trots out his “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” character, this time, on the other side of the law. (Keep a lookout for Jon Hamm as the whack-job doomsday abductor.)
So…if you noticed the click-bait headline, you might be wondering at how this show will End TV As We Know It™. Simple. Content is King, and Better content = happier viewers. The problem with the networks (broadcast AND cable) is that they revel in mediocrity. They’ll air damn near anything they think will get a viewer with a pulse, and anything that is fresh, fun, exciting, and different gets on the air ONLY by accident. But subscription services like Netflix are different. Fearless. Original. “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is a show that, by rights, ought to be on NBC, what with their relationship with Tina Fey. It isn’t. Instead, it’s on Netflix. And this show, (along with “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black,” as well as their other original programming) is why cable and network TV are on their way out. Why would ANYbody want to be held hostage to a network dolling out one episode at a time, when you can go to Netflix (or Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime) and watch an entire season of a show whenever you want? If you own stock in cable or satellite companies, sell now. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon are the future. The Cable Cabal’s day’s are numbered. It’s destiny? A dumb pipe.
If you’re looking for a comedy that needs no laugh track, with humor intelligent enough that you won’t worry about losing brain cells just for watching, you owe it to yourself to give the Netflix original “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” a look. Now I’ve got to go. My daughter is about to introduce me to Vine, where she suddenly has 50 followers…