Tituss Burgess Blasts ‘Idiots’ Who Took Issue With His ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ Character

TCA 2015: Breakout star sees “no better way to call attention to the conscious of this country” than through comedy

Last Updated: July 28, 2015 @ 5:02 PM

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” wasn’t always going to be on Netflix, so by the time the streaming giant saved it from network TV, a clean Season 1 was already complete. That accident turned out to be a happy one, as co-creator Tina Fey has since heard great anecdotal tales of family viewing. Subsequently, she’s not changing anything for the sophomore run.

“The tone of the show does feel set,” Fey said Tuesday morning during the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour when asked if Season 2 will use Netflix liberties. She explained that the “sunniness” of Kimmy and her innocent, optimistic worldview turned out to appeal to a ton of 12-year-olds.

Fey doesn’t want to ruin that organic family viewing with nudity or profanity next year. That said, they’ll play around with time, and are thrilled to not have advertisers to worry about where the project ended up. In terms of actual story arc, don’t expect a ton of changes there either, Fey’s collaborator Robert Carlock said.

“[We’re] not letting Kimmy stop being Kimmy,” he told reporters. “Season 2 is about her continuing opening up to the world,” and exploring what he dubbed “moral relativism.”

That sunny show had a bit of a dark media cloud hanging over it earlier this year, despite its cemented status as a critical darling. Its breakout star is probably Tituss Burgess, an African-American actor whose exaggerated character as a gay black man created some blowback. He was surprised by the (admittedly limited) negative response to the humorous caricature, which took on some heavy issues through levity.

In one episode, Burgess’s Titus Andromedon had to dress as a werewolf while working at a theme restaurant. The character found that he was treated better on the street as a werewolf than as a black man. Some viewers found that snapshot offensive.

“Whenever I would hear that, I would just think, ‘You idiot, did you watch Episodes 1 through 13?'” Burgess said. “Because every story has a gorgeous arc, everything is finished with a period or a question mark or an exclamation mark.

“Comedy is born out of the most unfortunate of circumstances,” he continued. “There is so much going on in our world right now and you need a place to escape. But what better way to call attention to the conscious of this country — as it relates to racial stereotypes and racial, political discussions — than to do it through the way of comedy. I was not personally offended when I read anything, particularly the episode about the werewolf.

“They hit the nail on the end,” Burgess concluded. “It was a funny angle and look at what it means to be ‘other’ in this society.”

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