Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a new series on Netflix, and is critically acclaimed. It has an all-star cast, with characters from both The Office and 30 Rock. The show even has Tina Fey as one of its main writers. But even with all of those accolades, it has a serious problem: a race issue. The show is a comedy with an interestingly weird plot, amazing and relatable characters, and a lot of freedom to do whatever with, but still finds an excuse to use lazy, poorly executed racism as humor. I decided to write about this to analyze the use of blatant racism, the acknowledgement of white privilege, and racist stereotypes and why there is absolutely a race problem deeply rooted in the new series.
2 thoughts on “Racism Still Isn’t Funny: A Cultural Content Analysis of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Hannah Hunter, Section 1)”
I am so glad that you wrote on this show. They could have been off to a descent start if they used their offensive headline when they found the “Mole Women” to mock the insensitivity of the news. They could have left it at that and harnessed the talent that they cast. Instead the talented actors and actresses were actually just type-cast to play the stereotypical roles of a quirky red head and a gay, black man. In reading this, you shed light on a few things that I never caught in watching this series. First, you brought to light the numerous other moments of this show that should not have sat well with me that simply passed my ears due to an unfortunate desensitization that I am sad to admit. You also really brought into perspective the way big names (and in this case, Tina Fey, a white woman with privilege) use their position to essentially do whatever will sell. When I was watching this show, the second Jacqueline had a flashback, my liking for the show started to decrease and all of the racism infiltrated in the show started to irritate me more and more. What a sad loss to a series with such potential. You would think that a show that appears to want to promote diversity, in a weird way for sure, would cast actors and actresses that sustained that idea. I read an article this semester about series like this one and what the writers room really looks like. Often, the make up of that room is pretty clearly reflected onto the screen. It also talked about how insensitive writers formulate jokes and lines that actors and actresses of color have to say on screen which is another bag of disgusting worms to open up. Super interesting post, Hannah.
I find it interesting that you chose to write about this show. I remember when it first hit Netflix I was really interested to see it because like you said, it has a lot of potential I thought it might add some humor into my life. Much to my dismay I found myself bored and you said it perfectly when saying that the show was very lackluster. I don’t think I made it quite to episode 4 before I was completely over the show. There were moments throughout your paper that I realize my response in watching the first few episodes were some of much desensitization. I must say though, that based on your analysis of the show, I am glad I didn’t make it further than the fourth episode as I imagine I would have found myself equally as irritated with it’s racist themes.