Warning: The following includes minor spoilers for the first six episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 4. Read at your own risk.
They say all good things must come to an end, and as the fourth and final season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt gets underway, it's clear the absurdly funny comedy from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock is preparing for the end as each of its beloved characters sort of (but not really) get their shit together.
It's sad, of course, to consider we will soon be living in a world in which we'll no longer be on the receiving end of masterfully crafted jokes like a movie poster for Sofia Coppola's Documentary About Jason Schwartzman, but Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) has evolved from the naive young woman she was when she first moved in with Titus (Tituss Burgess), and the show has evolved right alongside her. Although Kimmy apparently still doesn't know about 9/11, she has learned quite a bit on her journey toward living a happy and healthy life, and though it will absolutely hurt to say goodbye to a show that finally confirms orange is the worst Starburst, it's also better that it goes out at the right time — with the conclusion of Kimmy's central arc — rather than overstay its welcome.
Over the course of the show's first three seasons, Kimmy slowly started coming to terms with her traumatic experience in the bunker and how it affected her, both during her time spent in it and after she was freed. But the show's fourth season, more than any other season, is about Kimmy's true growth as a stable and functional adult. It's very slow going — she is still Kimmy, after all — but by the end of the season's sixth episode (the last in this first batch of episodes), after Kimmy has navigated various issues at her job and taken down a men's rights activist (guest star Bobby Moynihan) who supports the Reverend (Jon Hamm) and his twisted ideals, Kimmy has come to understand quite a lot about who she is and what she is willing to let define her.
She knows, for instance, that she is a survivor who no longer needs her security blanket, which takes the form of the purple JanSport backpack that was stolen from her in Season 1, but that she might still keep it around because she likes it. Similarly, she has learned that being an adult doesn't have to necessarily mean giving up the things she loves, like the day-of-the-week bras she had made special; it simply means accepting herself, her experiences, and her interests without embarrassment or anger or shame. Kimmy doesn't have to completely shed the person she was to be considered a successful and well-adjusted adult, she just has to be comfortable with herself. And she's becoming more and more self-actualized as the show goes on.
But Kimmy isn't the only person who evolves in Season 4. When Titus directs a high school musical, he initially makes it all about himself, even going so far as to suggest a very talented student, who is actually just a mini Titus, doesn't belong in the theater but on the wrestling team instead. With a little insight and pushing from Kimmy (of course), Titus comes to accept that what he thought was evidence of his own growth — he was embracing his inner theater nerd the way he was afraid to in high school — was not. Elsewhere, Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski) initially finds herself doing the very least when Xanthippe (Dylan Gelula) comes to her fearing that she's pregnant, but Jacqueline eventually rectifies her mistake, transforming into a badass and somewhat scary support system. And frankly, it's criminal that Krakowski doesn't have an Emmy for this role yet.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt again wraps all of its character development in its usual wacky and absurd sense of humor. Its many ridiculous characters continue to spout off one-liners that are sometimes so sharp and so quick that viewers don't even notice them until they've whizzed by them. The list of guest stars is once again stacked with names like Jon Hamm and Amy Sedaris, as well as newcomers Greg Kinnear, Aidy Bryant and Busy Philipps. It tackles difficult topics like sexual harassment and #MeToo in ways that no other comedy would likely consider, and it works very well. But if there is a standout moment, it's the third episode of the season in which a departure from form finds the show taking on the true crime documentaries that have taken the nation by storm. It is the most creatively ambitious the show has ever been, and fans will likely be talking about it for a long time.
Honestly, the worst thing about Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's fourth season is that it's being released in two parts, leaving Kimmy's journey — and our lives — feeling incomplete as a result. We don't yet know when Netflix will release the remaining seven episodes, or the movie that is being discussed as a series finale, but for the love of everything The Capist, hopefully it's sooner rather than later.
The first six episodes of Season 4 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt are now streaming on Netflix.