9:00am PT by Alyse Whitney
'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt': Jane Krakowski on Her Surprising Second Season
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from all of season two of Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.]
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a comedy, but that didn't stop the Netflix series from diving into deeper, darker territory during its second season. In addition to Titus’ (Tituss Burgess) controversial whiteface Geisha storyline, Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski) also has a moral dilemma as she decides to over-medicate her son, Buckley (Tanner Flood), with Dizyplin rather than do any “actual parenting.”
After popping one of the pills and feeling the zombie-like state first hand, Jacqueline has a change of heart and finally opens up to her son. Throughout the season, she also struggles in her post-trophy wife life and attempts to trick another man into loving her, but ends up falling genuinely in love with Russ (David Cross). However, that relationship takes a turn for the worse when she discovers his family owns the Washington Redskins and she cannot betray her Native American family with their relationship.
Below, Krakowski tells The Hollywood Reporter about how she sees hope for Russ and Jacqueline’s relationship in season three, how her character has evolved and why she thinks the aftermath of the “hilarious but wrong” Dizyplin storyline balances Jacqueline out.
Do you see the Dizyplin storyline as a commentary on over-medicating or a controversial topic?
It was incredibly clever and well-written, but also makes a commentary … I didn't find it controversial for Jacqueline. I never read a script with a sort of perspective of how it will be received; I read a script from my character's point of view. I don't like to assume what people might think in the future. I absolutely always trusted in [producers] Robert Carlock and Tina Fey to know that line and I think they have kept me in very good hands over all the years that I have worked with them on knowing that line and what can be handled not only in the world that they created for their shows, but how far they can go.
And Jacqueline does hesitate to do it at first.
I mean, when the doctor says "Dizyplin," and he goes, “Oh, don't worry, you won't have to do any actual parenting." It's hilarious. It's wrong, but it’s hilarious. I very much enjoy when they write me characters that are wrong but hilarious. It’s such a fun thing to play. I also think it was the first time that Jacqueline ever admitted — albeit in an angry conversation over the phone with Kimmy — that she has no idea how to take care of her own child.
Jacqueline also has a heartfelt moment with Buckley when they play Transformers in the middle of a store, which starts a real relationship.
In that episode alone, she has that bonding moment with her son in the shop with the Transformers, but there’s also the montage piece where Buckley reaches up to hug her and she doesn't know what to do — she’s not sure if she should put her arms around him or not. That was one of those moments that we did it a few ways … and I played it like [Jacqueline] didn't know how to respond in the rehearsal and they were like, "Oh, that's not what was on the page. And that's not exactly what we think can fit into the montage." And I said, "let us just try” because I really felt that that was an enormous moment for Jacqueline to not know how to take love from her child. To me those are the moments that are so deeply sad for Jacqueline and what I think balances her out. I think they gave Jacqueline a lot of balancing out moments this season.
There are also some big changes for Jacqueline's personality during her romance arc with Russ.
When she sells all of her jewelry that she got as a trophy wife to get furniture and to pay for a Thanksgiving Day dinner for his family, because she has no money left … that is a huge, selfless moment. She's still trying to manipulate the situation — that's why she's selling the jewelry — but that is a big leap for her to do that. There are many leaps that Jacqueline takes in season two that I think grow her an a human being … Then once again Jacqueline is set back, because no matter how much she wants money, she could never be with somebody who owns the Redskins with all of what she has tried to do for her family this season. But then he tells her he has always told his family to change the name.
Is there hope for Jacqueline and Russ in season three?
They are absolutely left with hope and the promise that this can happen for them and they can make his family change the Redskins’ name. Next season, we will possibly be together as a couple to finally get that done for my family, because everything else Jacqueline has tried to help her family this season has not worked out.
Do you think this new version of Jacqueline will stick next season?
I feel like Jacqueline takes steps forward and there's always steps back and I think this season they've really given her a chance to ebb and flow with life a bit, in a great way, and who knows where that will ultimately lead. The show always has that darker tone and darker underbelly, which is what I love about it and what I think is so original about it's tone … Every character you've met had their own bunker, so to speak, and I think that will always be a continual storyline for each of the characters, whatever their background is.
I have so much optimistic anticipation for season three, because I think in episode 13 alone, they brought Kimmy to a new place. I do believe it's because we moved to Netflix, so we were able to go there. I don't know if we would have ever been able to go there tonally — where episode 13 of season two goes — on network television and I hope that season three we only go further into that depth that they have created. Still with the same humor and optimism.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season two is streaming on Netflix now.