During that season in the episode “Kimmy Walks into a
Bar!” she meets Keith (Sam Page), an Army veteran who, after
looking into her eyes, determines that she has seen some difficult
things much as he did when he was fighting in the war. The show
has an ability to let survivors of assault be able to stand at a distance
while also being able to relate to Kimmy. Maybe most viewers did
not escape from a cult and her particular harrowing experiences,
but a lot of people are survivors of some type of trauma.
Juxtaposing Kimmy with an army vet in such a way that the veteran
recognizes their commonalities allows some pushback against the
stigma associated with domestic and sexual assault and legitimizes
the experiences of survivors by framing them as comparable to
those of soldiers. In fact, Keith sees Kimmy as someone who
understands his pain in a way many others do not. This connection
between Kimmy and Keith allows viewers to conceptualize
Kimmy’s pain and life within the bunker without actually having
to show it, which maintains the narrative of Kimmy having control
over her own life by not spectacularizing while also letting the
audience know that she has been through some terrible situations.
Though the show does portray how Kimmy’s trauma lives
with her outside of the bunker, the narrative framing of the series
does not depict explicit violence committed by the Reverend
during the flashback scenes. The spectacularization of violence
that is notably present in other shows, specifically sexualized
violence toward women (like in Orange is the New Black), is not the
focus in depicting the lives of Kimmy and her cohort. This
narrative emphasis says something powerful about the show in
general: when violent acts are committed, it is not a totalizing
experience, and those acts do not singularly define an individual.
This framing allows the show to delve into Kimmy’s survivor
experience in complex ways that often include negotiating violence
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