TV Review: The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 2 Tackles Love, Relationships, and Scientology

Fans of the lighthearted and hilarious Netflix show The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt eagerly anticipated the release of Season 2 in April after Season 1 left us with all those cliffhangers: Who is Titus’s wife? Will Dong escape his marriage of convenience? Will Kimmy let go of her past, find true love, and finally catch up to current pop culture?

The conclusion of Season 1 wrapped up the biggest dilemma in the titular character’s life: the smooth-talking Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm), who’d kept Kimmy and three other women in a bunker for fifteen years, had nearly escaped punishment, but justice prevailed—thanks to logic, resilience, and a Celebrity Apprentice audition video. It seemed that Kimmy could finally move on from her traumatizing past—but it wasn’t going to be easy.

The new season gives increased depth to the people in Kimmy’s life. A more mature side of roommate Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess) emerges when a serious relationship develops between him and construction worker Mikey (a brief but memorable character from season one played by Mike Carlsen). Kimmy’s employer Jacqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski), is newly divorced and looking to rebuild her life with “only” twelve million dollars—a storyline which introduces viewers to frenemy Deirdre Robespierre (the terrifyingly good Anna Camp) in the battle for Upper East Side queendom. And eccentric but loveable landlady Lillian Kaushtupper (Carol Kane) fights tooth and nail against gentrification and provides much of the moral support to Kimmy and Titus as they struggle through their respective relationship problems.

Kimmy Schmidt’s quippy one-liners and embarrassing ’90s references are enough to keep you amused, but it’s the fourth episode, which parodies Scientology, that will certainly make humanists smile. Fellow bunker-mate Cyndee Pokorny (Sara Chase) contacts Kimmy through “electronic mail” to share a slick promotional video for a cruise ship owned by the Church of Cosmetology. The church is led by the Great Founder, a creepy Siegfried and Roy lookalike who calls non-Cosmetologists “lizard people or lotion people…the napkin the founder wrote this part on got wet.” Suddenly, a familiar face pops on the screen: Gretchen Chalker (Lauren Adams), another of the Reverend’s captives and the most religiously devout among them. It seems Gretchen has found a new cult that gives her great eyebrows and the ability to pop popcorn using only her mind.

Gretchen is set to depart on the cruise ship the following day, but instead Kimmy kidnaps her and leads her on a choose-your-own-adventure experience where Gretchen is free to do whatever she wants (which, in New York, apparently includes doing “nose candy” with a Times Square Elmo), only to realize that Gretchen is the type of person who lacks the ability to make responsible decisions on her own without a leader.

This is where viewers begin to see more of Kimmy’s maturity when she comes to the realization that there were four other different women captured in that bunker (yes, I’m counting Lil’ Lisa)—and they can’t all move on in the same way she did. In fact, there are hints throughout the first several episodes that Kimmy hasn’t fully let go of her past, and in later episodes she begins dealing with her repressed issues with the help of a professionally insightful but personally flawed therapist (Tina Fey).

The conclusion of Season 2 leaves more questions to be answered (and certain episodes continue to be awkward in their treatment with race issues), but Kimmy Schmidt the show and Kimmy Schmidt the character have matured beyond the pop culture jokes. And it’s worth sticking through the show if you care about Kimmy’s ultimate happy ending—because [SPOILER ALERT!] someone eventually does give her a high-five.