Streaming Exclusive: Can We Just Admit Kimmy Schmidt is Broken?

Have you ever had a show in your life where you forgot you dislike it until you watch it? Like if it’s been a few months and the show comes up in conversation you’re like “yeah yeah, I’ve seen it, it’s so funny!” but then when you actually go to binge that show you’re like “wait this is actually kinda a crap show?” Well for me, that’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. 

As you probably know Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is the brain child of Tina Fey and her frequent collaborator Robert Carlock. It’s no surprise to me to that this show came from someone with a background in sketch comedy because in some ways, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is quite similar to Saturday Night Live in terms of consistency. Sure, SNL occasionally comes up with comedic gold that is widely circulated throughout the interwebs, but when you actually try to sit through an entire episode you’ll find yourself sitting through just as many forgettable, unfunny sketches.

Likewise, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt certainly has its moments. The classic of course is “Peeno Noir”:

Every few episodes you get a great moment that feels like an exceptionally good SNL sketch. But then you also can sit through 2-3 episodes at a time and think “Well…is this really going anywhere?”

The fact of the matter is that despite some funny moments, I’ve never really gotten emotionally invested in the zany characters that populate Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I think this lies in an inherent flaw in the premise of the show. That premise of course is that adult woman Kimmy Schmidt starts a new life in New York City after living the previous 15 years in an underground bunker because she was kidnapped as a child. The inherent flaw is that the longer Kimmy lives in New York, the more this initial hook fades. Eventually, Kimmy has to learn how the modern world works and the show turns into just another “20-something trying to make it in New York” show.

I have a hunch that the writers know this deep down so it almost feels like they’ve gone out of their way to add weird novelty aspects to the show to the point that it just feels desperate.

– “Ok, so Kimmy learned how to make a life for herself in New York, but WHAT IF JACQUELINE WAS A NATIVE AMERICAN WHO ALSO MARRIED THE FAMILY THAT OWNS THE REDSKINS.”

– “Sure, we’ll give Kimmy normal plotlines like getting a job, deciding who to date, and going to college but WHAT IF HER ROOMMATE WAS A SASSY BLACK GAY MAN WHO JUST GAVE US AN EXCUSE TO MAKE HILARIOUS MUSICAL NUMBERS?!?!?”

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt wants to be off-the-wall ridiculous, but it never seems to give those off-the-wall ridiculous storylines to Kimmy herself. That can still work, except that Kimmy isn’t your traditional straightwoman. She often embraces and encourages all the ridiculous whims of the people around her. In both comedy and storytelling in general, that’s a recipe for disaster.

In Bob’s Burgers, Bob is begrudgingly dragged into ridiculous situations by his rambunctious family. In Rick and Morty, pretty much everyone except for Rick disapproves of Rick’s sci-fi shenanigans. Even in Fey’s own 30 Rock, much of the comic value comes from the somewhat normal Liz Lemon putting up with the eccentric personalities of Tracey, Jack, and Jenna. In Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, you have a protagonist trying to lead a normal life who just kinda says “sure, ok, sounds good” whenever the supporting cast wants to go off on crazy adventures.

The result is a show that lacks an emotional core but isn’t really funny enough to get away with not having an emotional core. Sure, it’s capable of being funny, but not reliably funny. I’ll just wait for Titus to get his own spinoff, then check back in.

 

Streaming Exclusive: The Blog About Not Blogging

While I am not egotistical enough to believe that this blogging project had hoards of fans who read it religiously, I still owe an explanation to anyone who’s been trying to keep up.

I haven’t written in several days in part because it’s really hard to write when you don’t feel proud of your writing. I hate feeling like I have nothing to write about because I haven’t had time to watch anything. I hate feeling like all I’m ever doing is summarizing episodes without any original analysis. I hate feeling like this grand adventure that I originally thought would be ever so riveting is really just me lying in bed watching Casual. And maybe, it was slightly delusional to think that my bad habits of procrastination would magically turn into something interesting if I forced myself to blog about it.

Creativity is a weird thing because on the one hand, I want to be the type of person who can create even when I don’t feel like it. I want to be the trooper that pushes ahead and gets shit done even if the muses aren’t doing me any favors. But I also want to maintain a certain level of self-awareness. I want to be able to call myself out when my work isn’t up to my standards and adapt accordingly.

In the case of the Streaming Exclusive Project, this means that I’m not going to be blogging daily. This should allow me to have binging days and writing days as opposed to expecting every day to function as both. In addition, I won’t be holding myself to a strict format as previous posts have. While I think that strategy worked really well with the 30 Pilots in 30 Days project, it’s really hard to stick to a format when I’m often blogging about several different shows in one post.

Thank you so much for every last person who supports this blog in any way. I’m just a young writer still figuring stuff out as I go and I appreciate having the freedom to call audibles. Please know that all decisions I make are in the hopes that I create better content for you!

Streaming Exclusive Days 9 and 10: Endings and Beginnings

Anne’s Note: I didn’t blog yesterday because I had not streamed anything the day before. I’ve been getting into a bad cycle of forcing myself to blog before watching anything. The problem with this is that some days I’m so tired from blogging that I end up not watching anything and thus have nothing to blog about. Since the ultimate purpose of this project is to share my opinions on shows and streaming in general, this seemed counterproductive. The following details what I watched January 10.

My Mood for the Day: Tired from work yadda yadda yadda.

What I Watched: Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle (S3:E1) and Hulu’s Casual (S1:E9-S1:E10).

What IMDb says: Love, money, ambition and music intertwine in Mozart in the Jungle, a half hour comedic drama that looks at finding yourself and finding love while conquering New York City. A brash new maestro Rodrigo (Gael Garcia Bernal) stirs up the New York Symphony as young oboist Hailey (Lola Kirke) hopes for her big chance. (Mozart in the Jungle) 

A new comedy series about a bachelor brother and his newly divorced sister living under one roof again. Together, they coach each other through the crazy world of dating while raising her teenage daughter. (Casual) 

My Thoughts on What I Watched: I finished the first season of Casual and started the third season of Mozart in the Jungle and of course both were enjoyable.

Mozart in the Jungle has a change of scenery in Season 3, kicking off the Season in Venice. It’s really the first time we get to see Hailey and Rodrigo independent of the New York Symphony. Rodrigo is conducting a concert for some big shot opera singer who’s name I forget, and Hailey is touring with the Andrew Walsh ensemble. Like most of Mozart in the Jungle, the entertainment value comes from that tension between Rodrigo and Hailey. They’re in the same city but don’t know it. You’re waiting for that moment when they meet.

Not only do you get some payoff in this episode, you get a tease for next episode. The episode ends with Hailey going to live with Rodrigo and Alessandra (I remembered her name!!!). Hailey and Rodrigo under the same roof is enough to get you excited for Ep. 2, but the addition of a gorgeous Italian woman under that same roof? It’s hard to contain my excitement for the shenanigans that could go down.

As far as Casual goes, I’m excited to report that after finishing the first season I’m still digging this show as much as I did after the first episode. Not entirely sure what to expect in Season 2 nor do I have anything groundbreaking to say about the end of Season 1.

My Thoughts on Streaming in General: Watching a season finale of one show and a season premiere of another show in the same day got me thinking about how these types of episodes might have changed from traditional tv.

A season finale has to be huge. It has to be something that will get people anxious to watch another episode. And as mentioned in a previous post, it can sometimes be a full year between seasons rather than just a few months. While the Casual finale maybe wasn’t as grandiose as some others, it did deliver enough to fit this bill.

Premieres have to do a bit of the same. Yes, they have to get us excited for the next episode, but that’s true of all episodes. A premiere should also give us a hint and what we can expect over an entire season, not just the next episode. And while Mozart in the Jungle does this to some extent with its season 3 premiere, I can’t help but think about how this episode would have to be structured differently if viewers had to wait a week for Episode 2. This premiere doesn’t even explore the primary cliffhanger of the Season 2 finale, but that’s alright because anyone who cares just has to hit one more play button to answer those questions. That means that this episode can focus on two storylines and do them properly rather than trying to juggle five plot lines and execute none of them.

Streaming Exclusive Day 8: Another Awkward Thanksgiving

My Mood For the Day: Not gonna lie, this section of the template is starting to make me question my life choices. I go to work, when I’m not at work I scroll through the internet looking at memes.

What I Watched: Hulu’s Casual (S1:E7-S1:E8)

What IMDb says: A new comedy series about a bachelor brother and his newly divorced sister living under one roof again. Together, they coach each other through the crazy world of dating while raising her teenage daughter.

What I Thought About What I Watched/But Also Kinda Streaming In General: Some shit hit the fan in these two episodes and it’s hard to talk a lot about it without spoiling it. That being said, episode 8 features one of the staples of television: The Awkward Thanksgiving Episode.

It crossed my mind as I was Binging Bob’s Burgers Christmas episodes that perhaps one of the downsides of streaming originals will eventually be a lack of holiday episodes, as seasons are released all at once. Why make a Christmas episode if your season airs in August. Sure Stranger Things had a Halloween episode but that season also dropped right around Halloween. Orange is the New Black is the only show that immediately comes to mind that incorporated holiday episodes throughout the year despite the whole season dropping in June. Now bear in mind that Hulu is the only streaming service that releases episodes once a week rather than a whole season in one chunk, which means that this episode was released around Thanksgiving.

***spoilers below***
In this particular episode, Laura is fighting with her mother and invites some unwelcome guests in order to stir the pot, namely Valerie and Alex’s parents. It is the first time we’ve gotten to see Alex and Valerie interact with their father, though he is referenced in the first scene of the pilot.

One of the things I’m noticing Casual does quite well is that each episode gives us something specific to look forward to in the next episode without it ever feeling like a cliffhanger. Each episode is still its own complete unit. That being said, episode 8 gave us the announcement that Valerie and Alex’s parents are engaged. Episode 7 informed us that Laura would be moving out to live with her dad. They don’t try to overwhelm you with plot twists but they do make sure there’s at least one solid development in each episode. It seems obvious, but there’s so many shows where either 1) you feel like nothing happens the entire episode or 2) you feel like there’s so much happening and nothing gets resolved in that episode. That’s what allows Casual to be so refreshing.

More Thoughts on Streaming in General: Casual is great and all, but I’m kinda starting to miss The Office. 

Streaming Exclusive Day 7: Still Keeping it Casual

My Mood for the Day: 

What I Watched: Hulu’s Casual (S1:E4-S1:E6), plus seeing I, Tonya at the cinema.

What IMDb says: A new comedy series about a bachelor brother and his newly divorced sister living under one roof again. Together, they coach each other through the crazy world of dating while raising her teenage daughter.

My Thoughts On What I Watched: I continue to enjoy Casual. These three episodes maintained the charm of the first three while still expanding the universe: we get to meet Alex and Valerie’s mother, we get a better idea of Alex’s work life, and we continue to learn about Laura as she pursue her photography teacher.

I want to take some time today to further discuss Laura, as I never really have before. Laura is 16 years old and her most defining character trait so far has been sexual activity. I don’t say this in a bad way because really the entire show is themed around sexual activity, but Laura embraces this in a way that 16-year-olds usually don’t. She doesn’t over-romanticize sex or believe that the boy she gave her virginity will one day be her husband. She has sex because she likes it and she will chase after anyone she likes with reckless abandon

What I think makes Laura particularly interesting is that she seems to be in 100% control of most of her life. If she wants to have a relationship with her grandmother, dammit she’s going to in spite of the tense relationship her mother and grandmother have. If she wants to fuck her teacher, dammit she’s gonna go for it. What’s particularly compelling about Laura is that she seems in control when most people in her situation wouldn’t be. She’s 16 and her parents just got divorced. Her world has been turned upside down. That’s what a compelling character is: someone who can be thrust into interesting situations and respond in unexpected ways. This also means that the writers can poke holes in Laura’s confident exterior to give her dimension. We see a little of this when she unexpectedly sees her father and his new girlfriend at a gas station, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of Laura’s vulnerable side.

My Thoughts on Streaming in General: I’m almost a week into this and still haven’t watched any hour long shows, save for that 57 minute episode of Master of None. It’s amazing how when tv networks aren’t telling you Monday is sitcom night and Tuesday is police procedural night you learn how short your attention span really is.

Streaming Exclusive Day 6: Complaining about Difficult People

My Mood For the Day: Desperately wanting to finish the daily blog post so I could get back to Casual. 

What I Watched: Absolutely nothing because I was so tired after working so hard on the blog post.

What IMDb says: Life is really tough for Julie and Billy, two 30-something aspiring comics living and working in New York City. While their friends and acquaintances move on to find success and love, they continue to struggle with careers and relationships, getting more bitter by the day. (Difficult People) 

My Thoughts On I Watched: So yesterday was kinda tricky because I had watched three different shows and there was virtually no way to give all of them a proper review in a concise manner. So I thought I’d use today, a day when I have nothing to really blog about after a day of no streaming, as an opportunity to play catch up. Continue reading “Streaming Exclusive Day 6: Complaining about Difficult People”

Streaming Exclusive Day 5: Hulu’s a thing.

My Mood For the Day: Wanting to finish Master of None. 

What I Watched: Netflix’s Master of None (S2:E9-S2:10), Hulu’s Difficult People (S1:E1), and Hulu’s Casual (S1:E1-S1:E3).

What IMDb says: The personal and professional life of Dev, a 30-year-old actor in New York. (Master of None) 

— Life is really tough for Julie and Billy, two 30-something aspiring comics living and working in New York City. While their friends and acquaintances move on to find success and love, they continue to struggle with careers and relationships, getting more bitter by the day. (Difficult People) 

— A new comedy series about a bachelor brother and his newly divorced sister living under one roof again. Together, they coach each other through the crazy world of dating while raising her teenage daughter. (Casual)

 

Continue reading “Streaming Exclusive Day 5: Hulu’s a thing.”

Streaming Exclusive Day 4: But why is it 57 minutes long though?

My Mood For The Day: I really need to eliminate this part of the template because it always make me sound like a lazy good-for-nothing human, but here we are again: I was sick. I wanted to lay in bed. It snowed the night before thus putting a damper on fun things I might’ve otherwise done.

What I Watched: Netflix’s Master of None (S2:E5-S2:E8) and Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle (S2:E8-S2:E10)

What IMDb says: The personal and professional life of Dev, a 30-year-old actor in New York. (Master of None) 

Love, money, ambition and music intertwine in Mozart in the Jungle, a half hour comedic drama that looks at finding yourself and finding love while conquering New York City. A brash new maestro Rodrigo (Gael Garcia Bernal) stirs up the New York Symphony as young oboist Hailey (Lola Kirke) hopes for her big chance. (Mozart in the Jungle)

Continue reading “Streaming Exclusive Day 4: But why is it 57 minutes long though?”

Streaming Exclusive Day 3: Oh yeah!! THIS SHOW!

My mood for the day: I worked my first ever double which gave me a nice sense of accomplishment but also meant I didn’t have much time for streaming. I was low on energy. I swear to you, one of these days I’ll actually be in the mood for a drama but today was not the day.

What I watched: Netflix’s Master of None (S2:E3-S2:E5)

Had I Seen It Before: Nope.

What IMDb says: The personal and professional life of Dev, a 30-year-old actor in New York.
Continue reading “Streaming Exclusive Day 3: Oh yeah!! THIS SHOW!”

Streaming Exclusive Day 2: Oh Yeah. That Show.

My Mood For the Day: Still fighting a cold but slightly more adventurous than Day 1.

What I Watched: Netflix’s Master of None (S2:1-S2:E2)

Had I Seen It Before: I watched Season 1 shortly after it came out but had never gotten around to Season 2 before now.

What IMDb Says: The personal and professional life of Dev, a 30-year-old actor in New York.

Continue reading “Streaming Exclusive Day 2: Oh Yeah. That Show.”