A version of this story about Robert Carlock and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” movie first appeared in the Limited Series & Movies issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
Being a Netflix original series is where the similarities between “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “Black Mirror” begin and end. Well, it was where they ended up until “Kimmy” creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock decided to close their comedy series with an interactive movie in lieu of a straight series finale, following the release of “Black Mirror” bosses Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones’s “Bandersnatch,” a “Choose Your Own Adventure”-style installment of their dark anthology. Then the two shows had so much in common that Carlock and Fey found themselves learning lessons from the work that was done on “Bandersnatch” — both intentionally and unintentionally.
“Netflix told us that with ‘Bandersnatch’ — you can imagine the obsessive fandom that they have — that viewers figured out by looking at the code what scenes (producers) had intended to cut that were still in there,” Carlock said, noting that he and Fey got to see “Bandersnatch” just ahead of its December 2018 launch. “We knew that was a possibility, so we intentionally had a scene you have to work so hard to get to. (It) was as deeply hidden as it could be.”
Carlock thinks some some dedicated fans have found the scene in question, “a little piece with Tina talking to the camera telling people to get a life and then talking to a balloon with a face drawn on it.”
“The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” series finale, titled “Kimmy vs. the Reverend,” allows fans to decide how they want Ellie Kemper’s Kimmy to live happily ever after, and gives them the challenge of both getting her to the altar on time to marry an actual prince (played by Daniel Radcliffe) and saving women kidnapped by Reverend Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm).
Ultimately, of course, Carlock and Fey decided that no matter how you choose to play the game, it ends with Kimmy tying the knot in a beautiful ceremony. Though that doesn’t mean it can’t get as dark and twisted as “Black Mirror,” depending on the choices you make.
“Obviously, ‘Black Mirror’ does what it does so well. But that’s a show that does conflicted endings and does dark endings,” Carlock said. “And to ‘win’ ‘Bandersnatch,’ so to speak, you have to kill your father and go insane. And we thought, ‘Well, we’re a show that deals with those things.’ We knew pretty early we want to give the viewer the chance to kill the Reverend and face the fact that the show is about being a good person and making moral choices. So what would Kimmy do in that situation? What would the viewer do in that situation? But we knew we wanted a happy ending and, in some ways we wanted to embrace a cliché happy ending.”
“And because our belief is that the character of Kimmy has brought good about in the world and in her life — it’s simplistic these days, but we want to believe in a character like Kimmy — it was never a question of deeply conflicted endings. We wanted to give the viewer a satisfying and happy ending. Kimmy is a satisfying and happy person and on some level — even though we never think Kimmy would define herself by who she’s married to, she’s her own person and all that — a literal fairy-tale wedding was also something that appealed to her childishness and her childish heart of love and imagination. It felt appropriate.”
To read more of the Limited Series & Movies issue, click here.