without making the violence her whole life story, an approach that
is truer to lived experience.
Kimmy Schmidt is undeniably a survivor within the series.
The plot situations and dialogue are able to create a full and
complex person with sweetness and grit, a character deeply
changed by the violence in her life but not defined by it.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt gives survivorship an authentic storyline
by giving the eponymous character real problems to work through,
problems with real symptoms (like PTSD), and problems that are
relatable to other survivors. For a show that tackles such a dark
and heavy subject, there is a surprising amount of nuance and
contrasting emotional tones. Ultimately, the complexity serves
verisimilitude because there is still joy in life for survivors who are
working through the necessary steps to move on from trauma. For
Kimmy, this ability to experience joy has a lot to do with the fact
that she never views herself as solely a “mole-woman.” This
fullness of character centered by her ability never to go completely
dark and heavy, allows for a narrative of recovery and moving
forward instead of a story built around victimhood. The creative
choice to focus elsewhere is not uncontested. Some critics find that
excluding scenes of violence takes away from the realness of the
story. I disagree because making Kimmy the narrative focus
instead of capitalizing on the shock value of the violence in the
bunker creates more opportunities for viewers to see themselves
as the “unbreakable” Kimmy Schmidt. It is this focus on her
journey after the trauma that paints her as a resilient model for
recovery and moving forward, a virtual role model within the
sitcom genre in unprecedented ways.
Kimmy Schmidt has developed many strategies to help her
deal with rough situations in the bunker, and she begins to use