In this presentation, Ria Banerjee considers Tina Fey’s recent Netflix series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Season 1: 2015). Kimmy Schmidt appeared amidst a huge publicity blitz in early 2015 and received mixed reviews in the media for its depiction of a young woman recently saved from a doomsday cult and experiencing life in New York City. Some reviewers found Kimmy’s effervescence unbearable, while others claim the show is breaking established barriers in comedy television.
This presentation tries to answer the question: What barriers is Kimmy Schmidt breaking and how? We will consider the show in in light of Walter Benjamin’s seminal essay “The Storyteller” (1936) to pinpoint the importance of the show’s depiction of Kimmy’s new life without revealing the grisly details of her past. We will consider the logic behind the show’s childlike mise-en-scène—the brightly-colored sets and props, the perpetually upbeat acting, even the relentless flow of story that refuses to let Kimmy become a representation of a newspaper tragedy.