‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ remains racist despite criticism

by Treva Flores

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” oversteps boundaries in season two which premiered  April 16.

Season one started off with the freedom of the “Indiana mole women” who had been kept underground for 15 years of their life by a lunatic pastor who told them the world had ended.

After a ridiculous start to a ridiculous series the plot continued to follow one of the mole women, Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) as she began a new life in New York with roommate Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), landlord Lillian (Carole Kane) and her new wealthy boss Jacqueline Voorhes (Jane Krakowski).

Everything seemed to work out for Kimmy as long as she kept her upbeat attitude and childlike sense of wonder and the show seemed to be making progress with its having a black, gay character Titus, in a leading role.

However, season one contained a bit of a controversy when it was revealed that Jacqueline, played by a white actress, was actually Native American. Many critics and viewers alike felt the show went too far with even Buzzfeed saying the show has “a major race problem” due to the mistreatment of Dong Nguyen (Ki Hong Lee) a Vietnamese immigrant as well as Native Americans.

Producer Tina Fey definitely didn’t hold back for season two and met this criticism with even more stereotypes toward Native American, Asian, black and even gay culture.

From episode one the tone was set that Fey has no problem exploiting races for a few extra laughs. Jacqueline returns to her Native American roots only to go through a “hallucination” and makes comments about disliking the white man and implying racist stereotypes about Native Americans, but stating it’s OK for her to say because she’s one of them.

There was even an entire episode about Titus, a black gay man, having a past life as a geisha and having the “Respectful Asian Portrayals in Entertainment” (RAPE) commitee boo down his one-man show until they fall in love with his performance and decide it’s OK for Titus to perform this inappropriate show.

Humor can be used to bring up important topics such as racism, however the way Fey went about it was completely wrong. The humor found in the show only reinforces racist stereotypes even though they are about very serious issues, such as Native Americans in television frequently being portrayed by Hispanic actors and now Fey is suggesting that the audience must believe a white actress is Native American.

Hollywood has a history of whitewashing characters and “Unbreakable” was no better this season by joking around with poor taste.

Fey is clearly trying to address the race issues in her show by simply not caring and proceeding to make offensive story arcs.

This was the only setback that prevented this show from actually growing from season one. Season two was just one big joke on race and felt like a mockery of very real cultures.

Kimmy is a wonderful character who simply wants to be a great friend.

She has a lot of great character development in season two as she begins going to therapy with Fey herself portraying Andrea Bayden, a therapist by day and an alcoholic by night.

Both characters have a meaningful connection as they help each other with their serious problems and if the show had leaned more in this direction for all of the story arcs the second season would have gone a lot better.

The humor and charm from season one can still be found in season two, however it is simply too hard to overlook the race issues in the new season.

It was disappointing to see this really amazing show plummet because of Fey’s ego remaining too big to deal with her shows problems.

Hopefully by season three the show will get it’s act together because the sense of humor as well as delivery by the actors is otherwise flawless.