Recap: ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ S1E2 “Kimmy Gets a Job!”

From contributing writer Stephanie Brandhuber

After a hugely entertaining and incredibly funny pilot episode, the second episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt proves that Tina Fey’s new comedy is definitely one to keep watching and will only keep you wanting more from Ellie Kemper, Jane Krakowski, and Titus Burgess’ hilarious New York City antics.

SPOILERS!!!

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Having been fired from her job as the new nanny at the Voorhees household, Kimmy sets off to get her job back. Promising to not let Jacqueline down again, Kimmy is given a second chance so long as she can single-handedly produce a superhero themed birthday party for Buckley (Tanner Flood) in less than four hours. While Kimmy buckles down to start planning the event, she discovers that Jacqueline also has a previously-unmentioned stepdaughter called Xanthippe (Dylan Gulula), who immediately dislikes Kimmy and the authoritarian position she represents as the new nanny. Xanthippe is your typically obnoxious, spoilt fifteen year old who refuses to answer to anybody and who clearly wants to make life as difficult as possible for Kimmy. 

Meanwhile, Kimmy has convinced Titus to return his fake Iron Man costume in order to get his $200 security deposit back, money he could use to put towards launching his acting career by paying for headshots and a new wardrobe. However, when he tries to return the costume, Titus discovers that the costume shop owner has scammed him and he fails to get his deposit back. Summoning his fellow costumed workers of Times Square, Titus talks them into joining forces by collectively visiting the shop owner and demanding their deposits back. Titus and his tragic-looking posse confront the shop owner and accuse him of infringing copyright laws with his generic costumes. The coup is a success, and Titus and his new friends are liberated from the characters they’ve been stuck embodying. The best moment in this particular plotline is seeing how Titus came about accidentally finding out about copyright laws, shown to us as a flashback of when he tried to stage his own one-man production of the Lion King. Needless to say, watching Titus sing ‘Ah Zabenya’ while holding a ginger cat as his stand-in for Simba is absolutely priceless and arguably the funniest moment of the series so far.

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In the meantime, Kimmy has managed to pull together a party for Buckley, but soon realises that Jacqueline is more focused on her husband Julian’s return home from London than paying attention to her son on his birthday. When Jacqueline gets a call from Julian saying he won’t be coming back that day anymore, the rich housewife has a meltdown and ruins Buckley’s party, telling her son that his birthday has nothing to do with him but was meant for his father instead. In a touching scene, Mrs. Voorhees admits to Kimmy that her marriage is crumbling, and Kimmy, using one of her coping techniques from living in the bunker, tells Jacqueline to take life ten seconds at a time, helping her to focus on the now and not panic about the future. Having helped her boss, Kimmy also manages to salvage Buckley’s tragically awful birthday by getting Titus to get back his Iron Man costume so that Buckley can beat him up, thus living out his child fantasies of being a super-villain. Xan too gets a taste of Kimmy’s smarts when Kimmy recalls a book she had while living in the bunker, The Baby-Sitter’s Club Mystery #12: Dawn and the Surfer Ghost, realising that the story Xan told her friends earlier about sleeping with a surfer that summer was actually a made-up plotline from the teenage novel. Kimmy threatens to tell Xan’s friends about the lie if she doesn’t stay grounded in her room that night, overall giving Kimmy the upper hand and rounding off her successful day as the Voorhees’ new super nanny.

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The pilot episode made it clear to us that despite Kimmy’s very visible lack of street smarts, she is a strong-willed and determined woman. Although everything the big city is pretty much completely new to her, Kimmy manages to use her positivity and unique skills acquired while living in the bunker for fifteen years to not only further her own aspirations but to also help her new friends who need confidence and encouragement too. In these first two episodes, we see from flashbacks of the bunker that Kimmy was the glue that kept the mole women staying strong together, always ready to lend a helping hand and give advice and comfort when called upon. Now, living in New York City, these same coping devices are put to good use and we see the seemingly clueless Kimmy sorting out her new friends’ problems and worries, whether its helping Titus make his big acting dreams come true or lending a helping hand to the deluded, money-spoilt Jacqueline Voorhees who can’t seem to sort out her own problems, let alone those of her unruly children.

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Although the dynamic between Xan and Kimmy makes for some funny repartee, it seems like the series has included Xan’s character solely as a means of giving Kimmy an antagonist, and the perpetually angry, self-centred teen trope isn’t exactly at its freshest here. That being said, it’s still early days for Dylan Gulula’s character Xan, and it will be interesting to see how the series decides to develop her persona. As for Jane Krakowski, her character Jacqueline Voorhees gets a bigger spotlight in this episode, giving us a much appreciated and greatly welcomed dose of Krakowski’s hilarious comedic acting. There are very strong similarities between Jacqueline Voorhees and Krakowski’s character Jenna Maroney from 30 Rock, which on the one hand is great to see Krakowski doing what she does so well, playing the deluded self-indulged diva, but on the other hand it would be nice to see Krakowski be given the opportunity to play someone different with a little bit more depth. Hopefully the next few episodes will delve deeper into Jacqueline’s backstory and allow Jane Krakowski to flex her comedic muscles even more. 

All in all, this second episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is entertaining to watch and is worth viewing even if only for Titus’ Lion King scene which only goes to confirm that Titus Burgess is the comedic superglue that makes this series such a strong comedy and definitely worth coming back for more. 

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(Photos copyright: Netflix, Universal Television)

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