After the success of the interactive Black Mirror episode Bandersnatch it was only a matter of time before a whole host of imitators hit our screens, but I doubt many predicted that Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt would be first out of the blocks. Firstly because the show supposedly came to an end last year, but also because it’s a bright, pretty breezy comedy that might not seem like it would fit the format.
I’m not completely convinced it does either, not that I didn’t have fun when playing it but a lot of the time I couldn’t help wonder if I was missing out when making a choice, even though I could of course always go back and replay it later (which I did, and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every option now) and that’s a feeling I didn’t get with Bandersnatch. The stakes don’t feel particularly high either, which is weird considering that it revolves around the Reverend having a second bunker of still trapped mole women somewhere, while Kimmy’s marriage to Prince Frederick (Daniel Radcliffe) is plausibly in trouble.
Quite a few times when you choose an option you get to see a cutaway before being forced back in to taking the right choice, which isn’t a problem per se but makes it feel like you’re being directed down a specific path, and there are occasions when it just comes to an end and pushes you back to a previous decision, and so a lot of the time it’s not really an interactive game. About half way through that at least changes as the choices you make often have an impact on how the story plays out, with the decision as to how Titus acts at one point altering the ending, but it’s a shame there’s not more of these moments.
There’s also one part right at the end where Kimmy is given four different options and it’s beautifully twisted and hilarious stuff, I know Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a largely light and frothy show, celebrating the importance of optimism even when faced by darkness, but a couple of more moments like this could have been fun, and highlighted why this deserved to be an interactive episode. At least there are a couple of these parts which do make good use of the set up, which is also why you should definitely try to skip the intro, though I won’t go in to further detail so as not to spoil the moment.
If you ignore the interactive element or refuse to take it seriously in any way then you’ll probably have a lot more fun with it, and as episodes of the show go it’s a pretty bloody funny one, right up there with the best the series had to offer. The plotline where Kimmy discovers the possibility of a second bunker existing is a strong one and allows Jon Hamm to be rather silly once again, while the b-plot where Kimmy’s wedding to Prince Frederick may not take place due to a moment of insanity on his part (ie kissing Lillian, because she reminds him of the nanny who brought him up) is a likeable element too, even if the latter story isn’t explored in quite as much depth as it deserves to be.
Despite that quibble Daniel Radcliffe continues to show how he’s one of tv and film’s most talented comedic actors in a role he’s damn brilliant in, the show has a lot of fun mocking British posh types and their overly pompous language but he’s still an incredibly appealing character, and perfect for Kimmy as he’s such a naive and innocent individual. Radcliffe fits in perfectly with the cast too, which is quite the compliment as Kemper, Kane, Burgess and Krakowski are all superb in the show once again.
The extended running time means it’s filled with a ridiculous amount of funny moments too, and to it’s credit it doesn’t sag for a second. As well as running gags like Frederick’s daft word usage and Titus’s disgust at exercise, and his accidental ingestion of hallucinogenics, there’s lots of incredibly memorable throwaway gags too including a superb bit about how Josh Groban’s speaking voice doesn’t sound like his singing voice, and a very funny cameo from Jack McBrayer has him casually asking for help with a dead body with the words “We’re going to need some trash bags and a shovel in the visitors room”.
Listing even a small amount of the other funniest moments would lead this review to being a good few thousand words long and I’ve rambled on enough as it is. To cut to the chase then – this doesn’t quite make as good a use of the interactive elements as it could have, but it’s still bloody hilarious, and though the finale of the show works better as a way to say goodbye to the characters, as an enormous slice of silliness that will make you laugh over and over again it really does deserve a great deal of praise.