Philosophy and Pop Culture
The hit Netflix TV show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has taken the world by storm,
winning hearts among critics and the general public alike. Its two seasons feature the exploits of its titular heroine, Kimmy Schmidt, as she adjusts to life in New York City after being freed from a doomsday cult in which she was held captive for 15 years. This jarring premise is actually the basis for a sitcom, taking its inherent darkness to the most ridiculous and poignant ends. Also notable is Unbreakable's format, as it is released by media streaming company Netflix solely on its digital platform. This makes the show's success all the more illustrious, with one writer calling it "the first great sitcom of the streaming era. " Despite its modern production, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt hides some old-school ideas, prominently perpetuating the ancient philosophy of Stoicism in both its ethos and overall message. Throughout the series, Kimmy Schmidt's underlying ideas about life and how it is best lived, especially when concerning perspective, duty, and being true to oneself, find their foundation in Stoicism.
It is undeniable that Kimmy Schmidt has had a hard life, with her mom abandoning her,
being kidnapped for 15 years when she was 14, and being thrust into a society that she does not recognize. Yet she maintains a consistently positive perspective, once advising a friend going through career setbacks, "You can either curl up in a ball and die, like we thought Cyndee [another kidnapped girl in the cult] did that time, or you can stand up and say, 'We're different.
We're the strong ones, and you can't break us. " In reference to her own experience, she once
unironically stated, "I still believe that the world is good. That bunnies are nice, and snakes are mean. That one day Sandra Bullock will find someone who deserves her." She remains silly, sweet, and sincere not in defiance of her oppressive past, but in recognition of her control of the future. With all that she has gone through, no one would blame Kimmy for becoming cold and bitter, but like the Stoics, she finds that situations are what one makes of them. Kimmy is unbreakable, exactly as the title states because she refuses to let tragedies and misfortunes distract her from living a good life.
Kimmy Schmidt struggles with duty in Unbreakable, especially in the first season. Her
crisis of heart begins when her kidnapper, the Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, is put on trial in Indiana for his crimes, and she is called to testify. She initially delays going, attempting to purge her former captivity from her mind by distracting herself with SpiritCyle (a cult-like exercise class), as she does not want to relive her painful past. Kimmy only ends up going after she is convinced by her friend, Titus Andromedon, that despite how unpleasant the trial will be, she must testify in order to help the Reverend be convicted. As...