Tuesday 25 October 2016

Kimmy turns out to be a winning comedy creation

John Boland

Published 08/05/2016 | 02:30


After the first episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix), I thought it too twee for its own good, but it's proved to be a slow burner that gets more likeable and quirky as it goes along.

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For those who haven't yet sampled it (and all episodes, in the familiar Netflix way, have been released simultaneously), it concerns the titular Kimmy, who was kidnapped and incarcerated for years in an Indiana bunker and is now trying to find her way in an alien contemporary world.

She ends up in Manhattan and finds lodgings with ageing hippie Lillian (Carol Kane) and flamboyant gay-performance artist Titus (Titus Burgess), while also getting an au pair job in the swish apartment of ditzy Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski).

If that scenario sounds a bit flimsy, well, it is, but some of the set-ups are daftly comic, the one-liners (some of them provided by co-creator Tina Fey) can be very droll, and Ellie Kemper (inset) is an airy delight in the title role.

More, perhaps, could be made of her unfamiliarity with modern manners and devices, but the series has a tone all its own that's hard to describe but is very winning. I'm not quite binge-watching, but I'm tempted.

I can't say the same about two other new Netflix sitcoms. Flaked, which concerns the romantic aspirations of two sad sacks in California's Venice beach town, has a pleasingly laid-back feel, but in terms of action it's so languorous that you wonder if they're making it up as they go along.

Still, it's preferable to The Ranch, which sees an errant son (Aston Kutcher) return to the Colorado home of cowboy father (Sam Elliott), mother (an unrecognisable Debra Winger) and resentful brother (Danny Masterson, who was Kutcher's co-star in That '70s Show).

It's the darndest thing, a sitcom that accompanies all its heavily signposted one-liners with an intrusive laugh track. If it weren't for the sexual jokes and the explicit language, it could have been made in the 1950s.

So how did it attract such a stellar cast?

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