Motion Picture Character of the Week

Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt

Kimmy Schmidt is one of the “Mole Women”, kidnapped as a late-90s teenager by the leader of a doomsday-cult and held in a bunker for 15 years with three other women. On finally being rescued, rather than return to Ohio, she decides to start over in New York – to show it not only to this metropolis, but to the whole world. And as the ultimate innocent abroad, Kimmy’s peppy, wide-eyed adjustment to the brutality of New York City throwing the insanities of the city’s high-maintenance lifestyle into sharp relief.

In true sitcom style there’s the flat-mate-with-issues, “Titus Andromedan”, a slightly bitter black stage actor whose Broadway dreams have been reduced to hustling in a superhero costume on the streets. There’s the bonkers-boss, Jacqueline, whose wealthy life is hiding her own modest beginnings as an American Indian. Of course the other New York sitcom schtick also holds true: it’s everyone else that’s crazy.

Kimmy quickly becomes an unlikely, if cheerful and colourful spoke at the centre of this world. A rich vein of comedy in the show lies in how she constantly wrongfoots the uptight New Yorkers around her with crashingly out-dated references to the late-90s, and the fact that she was a 14 year old when she was last a free woman. This accidental time-travel is a glorious set-up for the series, both mocking modern life and the media’s own way of presenting it, and is brilliantly written by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock (the team behind 30 Rock).

If Kimmy isn’t a 14-year old girl from Middletown Ohio anymore, her mindset is still stuck there. But this creates a magic situation, an indefatigable teenager girl in the body of a woman, and her innocence seems be a route to the happiness the other New Yorkers can only dream of. We salute you Kimmy Schmidt – one of the most heart-warming characters to turn up in TV comedy in years.


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