This is my first taste of Netflix’s interactive offerings, apart from the “skip politics” button inexplicably included in a stand-up special from political comedian Seth Meyers. It didn’t work – there still appears to be loads of politics happening.
Kimmy vs. the Reverend follows on from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s wonderful sitcom Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the story of a woman (Mystery Team‘s Ellie Kemper) freed from a bunker where she lived for 15 years after being kidnapped by an evil reverend (Jon Hamm). In this feature-length special, Kimmy finds a choose your own adventure book inside her talking backpack Jan (Stephanie D’Abruzzo) which leads her to believe the reverend has more “mole women” held captive – and we get to choose what happens! Kind of.
Many of the options lead to dead ends, often literally – you can kill the characters and go back to the last choice (“Do over!”), just like a real choose your own adventure book. Ultimately the show funnels you into the story the writers wrote, rendering the interactivity as redundant as the crank that the reverend makes the mole women turn without explanation. But this is philosophically consistent with season 4’s Sliding Doors-inspired episode, which concluded that it’s not worth worrying about how your life could have gone.
The story itself is more of the delightfully wacky satire that made the show such a joy, with Kimmy and Titus (Tituss Burgess) their usual loveable selves. It seems a shame that Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski) is given nothing to do and Lillian (Carol Kane) not much more, while Mikey (Mike Carlsen) is conspicuous by his absence. This makes for an enjoyable experiment and a nifty novelty, but less rewarding than a regular feature-length episode with decent storylines for all the main characters. Still, it’s Kimmy Schmidt – unbreakable, dammit.