It’s only been a week since Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s new show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt premiered on Netflix, but the internet is already full of reviews and essays ranging from adoration to outrage. Tituss Burgess, who costars in the series with Ellie Kemper, fielded some questions during a conference call yesterday, and here’s what he had to say when I asked him what it’s like to star in a binge-able Netflix series that gets instant feedback and dissection from critics:
It’s so strange to have five months’ worth of work be swallowed in one sitting, so that’s a new concept I kind of can’t wrap my head around. As far as the dissecting, I think because of Tina’s involvement people hold her on such a high pedestal – and rightfully so. She’s so intelligent about her wit that I think it probably invites discussion. Good or bad, it invites discussion, and that’s the point and that’s what she wants. And you know, if people aren’t talking about you, you’re not doing your job.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt certainly has some kinks to work out, but because it’s a Tina Fey show, it’s not surprising there’s been such an overload of thinkpieces so early on in its run. It’s not without its own set of flaws (which is common for most comedy series’ debut seasons), but it also succeeds in some pretty exciting ways: For me, it was waiting to see whether a smart, straight white male would show up and take over the story – or at least shift Kimmy’s goal from “making it in the big city” to “finding true love.” Thankfully, that character never shows up, and that’s a freedom rarely afforded to women on sitcoms these days. Hopefully as Unbreakable gets a chance to develop it’ll start to win back the critics who panned it this week, but in any case, Burgess is right: Any press is good press, and people are definitely talking. Here’s a roundup of just some of the Unbreakable reviews and criticisms so far: