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August 23, 2019

‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ needs you to be ready to laugh at 2018

January 20, 2019
Jane Krakowski, Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane (from left) return for the final episodes of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” (Eric Liebowitz / Netflix)

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is determined to find out how soon is too soon.

It’s the oldest question in comedy: how long do you have to wait to laugh about a natural disaster or a tragic death? Humor is tragedy plus time, Mark Twain said. But how much time?

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For the Tina Fey-created Netflix series, barely a year after the first allegations against Harvey Weinstein were made public is plenty of time to turn the entire #MeToo movement into a punchline. While accusations of sexual misconduct still pour out of Tinseltown, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” relies on finding the funny in the generation-altering movement.

One of the main storylines for the end of the series — the final episodes are being released on Netflix on Jan. 25 — focuses on Titus (Tituss Burgess) experiencing sexual harassment at the hands of a puppet, who tries to get him to trade sexual favors for a job.

“If you’re going to just soften stuff down in terms of President Trump or #MeToo, take a nice, cozy, soft way out, that’s not them (Fey and show co-creator Robert Carlock). That’s not the essence of what they do, ” Carol Kane, who plays landlord Lillian Kaushtupper, told the Daily News.

“They have some stuff to say and they’re willing to take the risk,” Kane explained.

Kimmy (Kemper) completes her journey from kidnapping victim to fully functioning adult.
Kimmy (Kemper) completes her journey from kidnapping victim to fully functioning adult. (Eric Liebowitz / Netflix)

Another similarly uncomfortable bit involves Jacqueline (played by Jane Krakowski as a larger-than-life character in the best way possible) having an airplane run-in with Trump in an alternate-reality episode.

Navigating comedy about Trump can be a difficult task. He’s a polarizing figure with an oversized public persona, but reality has veered so far into parody that news headlines are often funnier than the jokes.

The season’s other plots are stronger — a two-part “what if” story arc and a few guest stars — but amount to little more than a few chuckles. As it stands, “Kimmy” will go down as one of Netflix’s first and biggest hits, but there simply isn’t enough plot to sustain it. You can only laugh at kidnap victims so many times.

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” unlike so many shows before it, is allowed to finish its story. Kimmy, Titus, Lillian and Jacqueline get their happy endings, a luxury few are afforded. And their endings are good, some better than others — Lillian’s, in particular, seems scripted by the gods.

“The common thread of the endings is a sense of dignity for everyone,” Kane told The News.

The final episodes of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” are being released by Netflix on Jan. 25.

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