Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: A Modern Cinderella?
Okay, I still haven't seen the big Cinderella movie (but I've read multiple reviews). But one thing I HAVE seen recently is season 1 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. Bearing the mark of one of its creators, Tina Fey, people are comparing it to a "better version of 30 Rock."
It's a comedy that loves to stretch the lines of appropriateness, but underneath all the ridiculousness and the characters' antics is a show that's getting a lot of positive buzz. Multiple times the characters make references to Kimmy being Cinderella. She works for a rich spoiled woman, and it's clearly referenced in episode 7, "Kimmy goes to a party!", in which Titus is the unconventional godmother who gives her a makeover, she is mistaken as being one of the guests at the party by an attractive rich male, and ends up leaving a shoe behind when he finds out she isn't what he thought.
Although I'm sure the creators didn't intend to reinvent the story of Cinderella, the clear allusions and the twists and turns make it a refreshingly modern twist on the fairy tale. More detailed discussion in the spoiler version below:
In Kimmy's job as a "nanny" (does she...ever actually take care of Buckley?) for Mrs. Voorhees (Jane Krakowski), she is clearly taken advantage of and often treated rudely, and other characters observe the connection between her and Cinderella. And while she does stay at the job, it's not because she's helpless and won't look for another job. She realizes early on that, despite their flaws, Jacqueline, Xan, and Buckley actually need her help. Rather than seeing herself as a victim, she recognizes the power she has to help other people, and her relationship with Jacqueline ends up being mutually beneficial (although it will take Jacqueline a while to get out of her classist mindset and truly respect Kimmy). Jacqueline helps Kimmy figure out modern life while Kimmy is her emotional support.
Then the classic Cinderella episode (episode 7), where we find that Logan is Prince Charming. We're so happy he sees past Xan's immaturity and wants to date Kimmy instead. Only...after a few episodes, Logan's true colors are revealed. Kimmy dumps him for someone else. I like how the show bypassed the two initial "obvious" choices for a love interest, Charles and Logan, and subverts stereotypes to find someone who is better for Kimmy.
Another issue people have with Cinderella is the emphasis on physical beauty. While no doubt Ellie Kemper is pretty, the way she dresses reflects her innocence and the fact that she was last in the real world 15 years ago-bright colors and things that young teenagers would have been wearing around Y2K. She doesn't conform to the fashionable world of the Vorheeses, but has her own unique way of expressing herself.
"It’s a relentlessly upbeat sitcom that also has a lot of smart stuff to say about the way we treat people we perceive to be victims, surviving, and reclaiming your identity. The trauma experienced by these women is never mocked. Instead, it informs the characters in believable and powerful ways. The pilot immediately, directly, and repeatedly challenges the notion that Kimmy is a victim. As the mole women leave their interview with Matt Lauer, a production assistant hands them gift bags and says, repeatedly “thank you, victims!” It’s a perfect example of how the pilot script uses jokes to uncover smart truths: People only see these women as monolithic “victims,” which reduces their identities and obscures the complexity of the trauma they endured. “Everyone in Indiana is just going to look at me like I’m a victim, and that’s not what I am,” Kimmy tells her fellow mole women directly...the writers already have found ways to make Kimmy look innocent but never dumb. And don’t mistake her childlike wonderment for weakness. Kimmy is, after all, unbreakable. "
-Review by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya (emphasis mine)
Anyone else seen the show? Did you find any other Cinderella or fairy tale connections?