Among many bits of DNA that Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt shares with 30 Rock, its spiritual predecessor, is a to-the-roots feeling of New Yorkiness. 30 Rock felt like an old-school version of showbusiness Midtown manhattan, riffing on the entertainment industry and apartment renovations; Kimmy Schmidt is pure uptown grit. You can look at them as two ends of the spectrum of New York that meet in the middle (or the subway train, the great equalizer). The villain of 30 Rock is often the city itself, its unwashed masses or aggressive homeless people. Kimmy Schmidt’s however, often chooses gentrification as its main foil, as seen in the above so-on-the-nose-it’s-perfect sight gag from episode 2 of the new season. The show is giving us good reason to laugh so we don’t cry.
The show loves taking shots at banks — there’s a scene from season 1 where Kimmy unintentionally calls out a construction worker for catcalling her, making him questions his whole existence: “What are we doing here? Do we really need another bank?” It’s a question a lot of real New Yorkers ask all the time.
And the changing neighborhood is an undercurrent theme to the whole show. Lillian (the amazing Carol Kane) represents the old-school New Yorker who’s been in the neighborhood forever and is eternally worried about her block getting sucked up into the yuppie gentrification machine, so she prowls for signs of change. In episode 3 of season 2, she gets worried when someone paints over the neighborhood Biggie mural, and soon realizes what she thought was gang graffiti was just signs from Fios signaling new development (though it may have been funnier to reveal the block had four more Biggie murals already, as many neighborhoods do). So she decides to paint her own replacement:
It’s something we’ve all considered doing, no matter our artistic talent, every time a sign for new development goes up.
Leave a Reply