Netflix’s first foray into traditional live-action comedy is a success!
Fans of 30 Rock can finally rejoice because Tina Fey is back with a new show. However, except for a very funny cameo, Fey has chosen to stick to behind the scenes work and concede the limelight to Ellie Kemper, of Bridesmaids and The Office fame, who makes for a very endearing and lovable leading lady.
The trope of young ingenue moving to the big city to make a new life for herself would appear to be a bit tired at this point, but the premise of this show allows for some forgiveness. Kemper plays the eponymous Kimmy. She is a mole-woman. What the heck is that? At fifteen years old she was kidnapped by a charismatic cult leader and was trapped underground in 1998. Finally free and trying to escape the stigma and the constricting town where everything is a reminder of her imprisonment, including her fellow mole-sisters, Kimmy moves to the city.
The fact that she spent so many years underground also allows for many jokes that hang on 90’s nostalgia (very in vogue right now if Buzzfeed is supposed to be any indication). The pilot is a bit uncomfortable in its comedy, as Kimmy tends to get taken advantage of a bit too much. Thankfully this is remedied almost immediately. She is not naïve in the traditional sense. Unlike Kenneth in 30 Rock, one is not left wondering how this younger for her years 29 year old is still alive, she has wits about her and is not a complete dummy, but she doesn’t quite understand the world around her either. Thankfully, she has her roommate Titus Andromedon to look out for her (and yes, sometimes to take advantage of her kindness). Titus is a middle-aged gay black man who may be effeminate and over-the-top, yet doesn’t feel like a caricature or someone to laugh at, and the reason for that is in the writing and in Tituss Burgess’ acting. Rounding out the cast are Carol Kane as the two roommates’ landlady and Jane Krakowski, who is unfortunately given a character (Kimmy’s boss) who resembles too closely her previous role as Jenna in 30 Rock and is given a bizarre and sometimes offensive background.
The comedy is broad and funny. I tend not to be an easy laugher, and found myself chuckling out loud during every episode. So much of the show hinges on how much you like Kemper’s character and that is the major accomplishment, because she is charming for days. If anyone, like me, really enjoyed the show Don’t Trust the B- In Apartment 23, well then this makes for a very worthy successor, and a lot of tone and themes are similar.
A truly enjoyable 13 episodes, and knowing that Netflix has already renewed it for a second season means there will be more Kimmy to look forward to in the near future.