Film and TV

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Episode 11: Televised Therapy with Jeff Goldblum; What Could Go Wrong?

Each week, we're recapping the second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt episode by episode.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has a taste for extremes. On the one hand, it takes everything to the silliest place it can; we just started to see it explore the process of therapy last week, and now it's already grandly parodying the idea of therapy. On the other, this episode has some of the most heartfelt and blunt moments of the series so far.

As Kimmy progresses with her therapy, her bunker friend Cyndee Pokorny shows up in New York to meet her own therapist: the trashy television star Dr. Dave, a parodic melding of Dr. Phil and Dr. Drew. Dave works with celebrity trauma patients and executes his therapy in cartoonish, gravely misinformed ways. Jeff Goldblum's performance as Dr. Dave marks the highlight of this episode, with an unsettling combination of desperately low self-esteem and an ability to recklessly change the lives of those around him for the worst. His "therapy" is also hilarious; when Cyndee reveals she hates the Reverend but loves coconut, Dr. Dave brings out a coconut wearing a beard and glasses and says, "Just something to think about."

Kimmy tells Dr. Dave some private information about Cyndee's future in the hopes he'll leave her alone, but instead he reveals that information on the air to spark a ratings-gaining fight between Kimmy and Cyndee. With the former friends turned against each other, Dr. Dave proposes that Cyndee have her wedding on the next episode. Kimmy knows she needs to prevent Cyndee from marrying her gay fiancé, but also knows Cyndee would hate her forever if she stopped the wedding. Crippled with indecision, she breaks down and cries - which, apparently, is the first time she's ever cried. Cyndee sees her and declares "If this wedding is making my friend Kimmy cry, then I'm not getting married!"

Kimmy's breakdown is a love-it-or-hate-it moment. On the one hand, Ellie Kemper continues to own every aspect of her role, and her crying here feels sincere, powerful yet relatively understated. But first we have to buy that Kimmy's tough enough not to cry when she hadn't seen her family in 15 years, when the Reverend presumably raped her, when she found herself alone in New York with no money and no friends. And then this is what breaks her? It reeks of forced catharsis, and with it, a somewhat forced ending to the entire dilemma.

Meanwhile, Titus lets his hair grow out while participating in a drug trial, and when the other trial patients steal his clothes, he's stuck with what's left in the hospital lost-and-found. Together this makes him look much older, prompting a young teenager, Tyler, to ask Titus to buy R-rated movie tickets for him and his date. Titus savors the opportunity to teach Tyler everything he knows about dating, inspiring his first interest in fatherhood. But the date goes horribly wrong, and the boy curses out Titus and leaves.

Titus' advice blends legitimate dating advice (women like ties and hate the word "moist") with misguided insight based on his personal experience. Tyler: "How will I know if Vanessa wants me to kiss her?" Titus: "In my experience, you wait so long the girl eventually kisses you and then yells 'What's your deal?'" But the true value of this plotline comes at the end, when Titus discusses parenthood with Lillian (who, by the way, is handcuffed to a bulldozer in protest). Lillian sees the neighborhood as her child, and parenting as a thankless job. "Kids are selfish, and they take you for granted, and you love them anyway. That's what parenting is all about." Kimmy rarely puts real, resonant truth over its ridiculous sense of humor, and it wouldn't be the same show if it did, but the exceptions like this make the series as a whole feel all the more honest.

Biggest Laugh: Dr. Dave [introducing Cyndee]: "Buzzfeed ranked her tragedy one of the Top 10 Most Disturbing Bunker Kidnappings of 2015..."

Biggest Surprise: When we looked up the IMDb page for this episode and said, "Wait, that was Jeff Goldblum?"
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.