Interactive Episode of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” Immerses Viewers

Courtesy of Netflix

Carmiya Baskin

Staff Writer

After its final episode aired at the beginning of last year, the hit TV series “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” returned for a new, interactive episode entitled “Kimmy vs. the Reverend.” The show’s four seasons follow Kimmy Schmidt as she attempts to adjust to modern life and discover herself after being kidnapped and locked in an underground bunker by a crazy reverend for 15 years. Once she is rescued, she meets her best friend and roommate Titus Andromedon, landlord Lillian Kaushtupper, and temporary employer Jacqueline White.

The newest episode, which premiered on Netflix on May 12, revolves around Kimmy’s attempt to rescue another set of women the reverend has captured and locked in a bunker, while simultaneously planning her marriage to Prince Frederick Windsor. It’s worth watching the episode, simply to see “the boy who lived” as an awkward, inexperienced royal prince. 

Aside from the exciting plot and witty political commentary that the show is known for, this new episode allows the audience to get involved in the story by making decisions for the characters at certain points along the way.

A yellow banner at the bottom of the screen pops up with a selection of options for the viewer to choose from. If the viewer fails to pick a choice within 14 seconds, a choice is automatically selected. If the choice leads to a person’s death, an interlude occurs in which a character comes on screen and advises the audience to make a different decision; the scenes rewind and the narrative continues from there (hint: it’s worth it to press the “Skip Intro” button at the start).

For example, viewers can see Titus shoveling in a mouthful of dirt that he believes is pasta salad due to an accidental shrooms trip, and can watch Jacqueline and Kimmy embark on a shaky helicopter ride controlled by Buckley — Jacqueline’s son — who only pretended to have piloting skills to get into the University of Southern California. The episode is also filled with characters breaking the fourth wall, further pulling the audience into the plot and connecting them with the characters.

The choices were often silly or pointless but the episode was truly enjoyable to watch and participate in. This is mainly due to the excitement of reuniting with the characters and storyline more than a year after the show’s official end, as well as being able to experience the show in a novel way. 

It’s easy and fun to rewatch the special multiple times due to all of the potential outcomes as it allows the audience to travel through as many different storylines as they like.

This episode is a unique way to not only revisit the story and characters, but also to relieve the boredom that many people have been experiencing since entering quarantine. Although this installment was not released as a response to quarantine regulations ⁠— the installment has been in the works since last May ⁠— the timing could not have worked out better as it is helping people stay occupied during isolation. This digital age also provides a perfect time for releasing a technologically interactive episode like this one on a popular streaming service.

Even if a global pandemic that forced people to hibernate in their homes had not existed, this episode would still garner the same popularity and attraction. Whether quarantine continues for one more week or another year, showcasing interactive specials like this one is both fun and engaging, and hopefully, other TV series and movies will follow suit.