As a self-confessed Tina Fey fangirl, I was very excited when I heard her new sitcom, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, was coming to Netflix this March. Starring the adorable Ellie Kemper as the title character, it follows Kimmy, a girl who has escaped from a doomsday cult and decides to make a fresh start in New York City. So obviously, as soon as the series came on Netflix I binge-watched the hell out of it, and kind of fell in love.
You see, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has the same snarky charm and cultural zingers as Tina Fey’s other sitcom, 30 Rock, but it also has something different: a heroine who has experienced trauma, but still approaches life optimistically. Kimmy is determined to overcome the challenges she faces, and she does so on her own terms.
Kimmy’s struggles to adjust to her new life are explored throughout the first season. She gets her first job, has romances with boys, moves into a flat and re-starts her education, all whilst dealing with the after effects of escaping the cult.
Kimmy’s attitude is refreshing. Characters that have experienced trauma are usually depicted as gritty and hardened to life, and although this is a valuable reflection of how many trauma victims respond, it’s so important that a myriad of experiences are reflected in our cultural media. Kimmy has experienced trauma, and she responds by thinking positively and bettering herself.
As someone who as experienced trauma, to see this reaction was uplifting and heartwarming, and also kind of self-assuring. I am a naturally glass-half-full person, I like to look on the bright side and I believe a smile and a few kind words can really make a difference to someones day. Seeing someone else like this, felt validating.
If that’s not enough to make Kimmy Schmidt a fictional heroine, I don’t know what is. Kimmy Schmidt demonstrated to me how important it is to see YOU in TV or film. Characters that echo our life experiences, our gender, our ethnicities, our sexualities, and most of all our diversity are vitally important and it is imperative that we see more of this on the screens we watch and in the literature we read.