**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.