the fact that the story is being told in a way that is thoughtful,
instead of provocative, gives many women the chance to see
themselves or some portion of their experience represented in the
television series they are watching. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
(2015- ) addresses how one woman, Kimmy, tackles stigma, post-
traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), coping, and healing as a process
without focusing the narrative on the violent events that created
the trauma.
During the first season, the series centers around Kimmy’s
efforts to adapt to living outside the bunker, but everything she
knows about life is based off the experience and recollections of a
12-year-old girl because that’s how old she was at the time of her
kidnapping. Through hilarious, endearing, and adorable scenarios,
Kimmy ends up finding her place in New York City, develops a
family structure through friendships, and breaks away from being
a “mole woman.” Storylines in the second season delve more
deeply into the heavy emotional baggage that comes from being
kidnapped and held against your will for more than half of your
life, including how that experience affects relationships with close
friends, lovers, and strangers. This chapter analyzes depictions of
survivorship in the series and Kimmy Schmidt’s strategies to
combat the gendered violence in her life. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
establishes themes that portray the experience of survivorship as
livable and survivor focused, which constructs a narrative model
that allows viewers to empathize with Kimmy’s journey rather than
to spectacularize it. In this chapter, I will analyze the depiction of
the eponymous character’s experiences, categorize coping
strategies that Kimmy uses to deal with the violence in her life, and
analyze her healing process and the reconciliation of her past to
develop healthier, ongoing relationships with others and with
herself.
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