When we last left our favorite East Dogmouth resident and her pals, so much had just happened. Kimmy got a scholarship to Columbia. She subsequently flunked out, but somehow got her dream job based on a career aptitude test. She lost that opportunity because of her marital status with Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne. Titus came back from his cruise ship gig to discover that his boyfriend Mikey had made some new friends. That tryst was innocent, but Titus realized Mikey needed to grow and they parted ways. Lillian learned that the city council isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but through her position she fell in love. Then her fear of losing him caused her to push him away. Jacqueline’s love for Russ blossomed. It faded after he came out of his accident looking like a model because he lost what Jacqueline loved about him in the first place. Season 3 provided a lot of character growth for the entire cast and mew friends came into the mix. It wasn’t my favorite season of the show, but the continued dedication to the show’s unique brand humor were commendable.
Part 1 of Season 4 continues the arcs of character growth that started in Season 3, but this season is a much more enjoyable journey. We see Kimmy struggle to shed her past since everyone is aware of her Mole Woman status. Titus is willing to feign stardom to impress Mikey, which leads to real opportunities. Jacqueline serves as Titus’ agent and struggles with his challenging personality. Lillian deals with losing another love in her life.
In any Tina Fey project, the devil is in the details. She has a gift for bringing back characters or references from previous seasons. For instance, the Yuko robots created by Jacqueline’s ex-husband could have been a one-off joke, but they’ve become an active part of every season. In this season an upgraded C.H.E.R.Y./L. (Cybernetic Human Empathy Response Yuko/Lamp) model works in Kimmy’s office. She demonstrates stereotypical traits of sitcom women like solving problems with Chardonnay. Subtle background references also serve as Easter eggs. If you examine the posters on set, you’ll find one with the spiked lemonade Kimmy thought was for children. You might notice another poster advertising the music video for Titus’ hit single Boobs in California. This attention to detail makes the show particularly rewarding to rewatch.
This show has always been a risk-taking comedy. What other mainstream show would make someone’s grandmother a puppet? Another risk is the episode Party Monster: Scratching the Surface. Instead of focusing on Kimmy’s narrative it showcases the background of DJ Slizzard, who we also know as Reverend Richard. It skips the typical cheery viral video intro and dives straight into a parody of true-crime documentaries. Helmed by DJ Fingerblast, who fans may remember as one of Jacqueline’s ex-boyfriends, the documentary format showcases this questionable character. It also serves to introduce another antagonist for Kimmy. His name is Fran Dodd, a moronic men’s rights activist who doesn’t understand why women don’t like him. Tina Fey’s previous show 30 Rock played around with format, but Party Monster felt like it uniquely aligned with the universe of this show. Don’t skip this episode on a re-binge.
One of the best aspects of this season is watching Kimmy mature while she holds on to her childlike whimsy. Episode 1 starts with a new song performed by Jane Krokowski (who plays Jacqueline on the show) called Little Girl, Big City!
The opening lyrics state:
Sometimes it feels like the world is so wide
And you don’t get a second look
But you’re not alone, you’re just on your own two feet
And it’s yours to took
Little girl, big city
This is the show now
This song fits the narrative of the season as Kimmy deals with real adult problems. She deals with the repercussions of her continued marriage to Reverend Richard and also comes under fire at work after a sexual harassment complaint. Despite these grown-up issues, the season doesn’t feel dark like last season. Season 4 reminds audiences that even though The Bunker will always be a part of Kimmy’s life and character, she will continue to grow and move forward. This approach is refreshing and different from traditional half-hour comedies where the main character grows and relapses in a repetitive cycle.
The first half of Season 4 is a return to the series we fell in love with in 2015. A few characters that I miss from past seasons haven’t shown up, but it’s possible that they will reappear later in Season 4. Tina Fey and crew smartly chose to cut the first half off at the sixth episode mark. The timing of the intriguing cliffhanger leaves the audience wanting more. I’m excited to see how all the plot lines wrap-up, and how this phenomenal series will close the book on its beloved characters.
4.5 / 5
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is currently streaming on Netflix. The second half of the final season is due January 25, 2019.