12:35pm PT by Hilary Lewis
How 'Kimmy Schmidt' Gets Political and Takes Aim at Harvey Weinstein in Final Season
[The following story contains spoilers for the first three episodes of the second half of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's fourth season.]
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt viewers may have thought the series had its #MeToo moment when Ellie Kemper's lead character accidentally found herself accused of sexual harassment.
But in the second half of season four, now streaming, the show presents a more serious take on the wave of sexual misconduct accusations that continues to ripple through Hollywood as Titus (Tituss Burgess) reveals more about how he was sexually harassed by Sesame Street puppet Mr. Frumpus, presented as a notorious predator who engages in the sort of inappropriate behavior allegedly perpetrated by disgraced figures like Harvey Weinstein.
The series further takes aim at Weinstein as the mysterious figure watching Kimmy and her friends is revealed in the first episode back to be a former Israeli special forces agent now working for a private security firm, who's been hired by "a certain children's television show" to dig up dirt on Titus. The character, played by fellow Netflix star Jon Bernthal (The Punisher), seems to be inspired by the Black Cube agents Weinstein reportedly hired to gather information on his accusers and journalists attempting to uncover stories of sexual misconduct.
Bernthal's Israeli agent, meeting with Titus, not only fails to collect any damaging information but also finds Titus' life to be so pathetic that even after surviving physically painful ordeals in his former life, it's this experience that breaks him.
Kimmy Schmidt co-showrunner Robert Carlock says they found that conclusion of the mysterious cliffhanger from the first half of season four to be "the funniest version," and that the plot point heading into the final six episodes served "to remind ourselves where these [characters] were starting from."
The series goes back further and imagines an alternate reality in "Sliding Van Doors," inspired by the 1998 Gwyneth Paltrow film Sliding Doors, exploring what might have happened if Kimmy hadn't been kidnapped. The hour-long episode, running from roughly 1998-2012, mixes up the series' characters and relationships and even features an appearance by then-reality-TV star Donald Trump, played by The President Show's Anthony Atamanuik.
Incorporating Trump into that episode, Carlock says, was Kimmy Schmidt's way of finally going after the president after its production schedule mostly prevented the series from fully exploring the results of the 2016 election.
Atamanuik offers a rather unflattering portrait of the president, back when he was, as Carlock puts it, "a reality-show buffoon and not a reality buffoon."
The Kimmy Schmidt version of Trump, whom Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski) and Kimmy encounter on a commercial flight, where Kimmy muses that he's "almost a millionaire," brags about not getting AIDS from Roy Cohn, screams he was born in Kenya and, after suffering the "greatest heart attack ever" during a two-minute sexual episode with Jacqueline, is taken to Trump International Hospital, Casino and Grill where his "best friend, nobody" is by his side, as he claims he glimpsed hell, which was "full of losers — sad."
"[We thought] let's put daddy's little rich boy [in the episode] and not even treat him as president," Carlock explains. "Let's treat him as how New Yorkers have viewed him for a long time, and now that we know the kinds of horrible things that he says, let's not hold back. He's said all that and worse."
While going after Trump was intentional, another joke that might seem to viewers like an allusion to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Carlock insists, wasn't inspired by Kavanaugh's "devil's triangle" moment before the Senate.
During the episode in which Kimmy has an emotional affair with her date's parents, she tells Lillian (Carol Kane) she's hoping her date brings her home to them, and Lillian says, "That's what we used to call the devil's four-way."
"We wrote and shot that so long before Brett Kavanaugh lied before Congress," Carlock said. "That was way before that guy, that liar, claimed that a devil's three-way was a drinking game but also that he didn't drink."