'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Does What '13 Reasons Why' Cannot, It Starts A Conversation

'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Does What '13 Reasons Why' Cannot, It Starts A Conversation

"Kimmy Schmidt" handles some of the same issues "13 Reasons Why" tries to, but far more clearly and thoughtfully.


**Spoilers for Season 4 of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" and Season 2 of "13 Reasons Why" ahead**

6 episodes, 30 minutes each - you're in and out in three hours, yet walking away with a stomach ache from laughing and a reaffirmed sense of justice in the world.

Season 4 of Tina Fey and Rob Carlock's "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" tackles the #metoo movement, women's empowerment, and society in the era of Trump with biting wit and "oh my god, they went there" jokes: Kimmy's accused of sexual harassment in the workforce, the Reverend supports a meninist movement to get him out of jail, and Titus educates children on personal intersectionality (a concept which Netflix's other hit, "13 Reasons Why" tries but ultimately fails to relay).

In a lot of ways, this half season of "Kimmy Schmidt" handles a lot of the same topics "13 Reasons Why" does, except much more clearly and thoughtfully. As Titus performs as a stereotypical nerd in an anti-bullying performance, during which kids are clearly bullying their "nerd," he breaks to tell them, "I'm a nerd - fine. But that doesn't mean I'm not also a jock. And guess what? I'm also gay." In a stark contrast, none of the kids on "13 Reasons" are willing to look past the labels that they believe define them (see: Bryce as the golden jock, Tyler as the bullied nerd, Jessica and Alex by their respective traumas) which only further perpetuates their problems.

Because of this, none of the kids are especially nice to one another either, even after Hannah Baker's trial begins. Tyler is shoved into lockers, kicked out of birthday parties, continuously mocked and ridiculed; Tyler demeans Ryan and blackmails Zach, who gets yelled at by everyone for trying to appease everyone. Clay doesn't understand sexual assault or Jessica's personal experience despite believing himself to be everyone's protector, and Justin makes jokes about suicide to Alex who makes light of Jessica's rape who yells at Tyler. They have no regard for their words or actions and are more than happy to live their lives confined by how everyone else sees them.

More importantly, "Kimmy Schmidt" doesn't pack their episodes chock full of hot-button topics and directed social commentary. The best and most lighthearted way to describe the content within "13 Reasons" is actually with a quote from "Kimmy Schmidt":

"We've only got 15 minutes to touch on abstinence, drugs, and not joining ISIS. Nerds are nerds, jocks are jocks, end of discussion."

Not only does "13 Reasons" prohibit their characters from moving past cliche high school labeling, the show also tries to touch on too many topics which ultimately prevents it from handling each sensitive conversation properly and fully.

Specifically, the way in which "13 Reasons" presents sexual assault seems to depict the issue at the forefront of this season. Yet, due to also attempting to touch on mental illness, bullying, sexual orientation, sex in general, drug use, youth homelessness, child abuse, peer pressure, homophobia, how the criminal justice system functions for minors, lying under oath, male sexual assault, gun violence, gun control, school shootings, mass shootings, and the effects of suicide on the community an individual leaves behind, all within thirteen episodes, none of the issues get the focus they deserve, least of all the one slated as the central focus.

Whereas the show could have done an incredible job bringing attention and light to sexual assault in regards to educational settings, the injustice that is typical in sexual assault cases, and the effects it leaves on survivors (note the italics, as the dialogue only features the derogatory term victims), it instead promotes a culture where it is okay to force a survivor to talk about their experience if they're not ready, survivor shaming, and the idea that there is not anything a survivor can do. Despite its kitschy, comedic tone, "Kimmy Schmidt" sheds valuable light on this topic through Kimmy's experience with the Reverend and Titus' experience with a puppet (serving in the role of a studio executive).

Further, Titus educates Kimmy on why her seemingly thoughtful method of firing an employee was considered sexual harassment in the workplace and Kimmy works not only to make sure society recognizes the wrongs the Reverend has committed but creates a young adult series to educate young boys how to not act like the Reverend. In a bold move, the show also brings the focus back to President Donald Trump's sexual misconduct allegations, a topic that has unfortunately gotten lost in talks of Russia, North Korea, mass shootings, and wherever in the world Melania is, despite Harvey Weinstein's recent arrest.

For all of its seemingly good intentions, "13 Reasons Why" focuses on the shock value of tragedies rather than on telling the stories of those affected by them. Instead of beginning a conversation on mental illness, suicide, and sexual assault, the show has instead become another glorified example of tragedy porn. In a stark contrast, Season 4 of "Kimmy Schmidt" quietly commits itself to tackling the topic of sexual assault and harassment fully enough to make sense but with enough laughter and biting commentary that viewers can continue the conversation after the episode's end.

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.

When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...


"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"


Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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