Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy VS The Reverend Review
When Black Mirror: Bandersnatch was released on Netflix in 2018, the streaming site seemed ripe for more of the same. With (mostly) critical acclaim, utilising the element of gameplay (or decision-making) alongside television seemed like something that could really take off. Yet, other than a dip into the world of Bear Grylls, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs The Reverend is really the next big name TV show to take on the challenges of a choose-your-own-adventure (even referencing Black Mirror: Bandersnatch at one point with Mikey expressly telling the audience that this is not like ‘spooky mirror’) . Let the adventure begin…
Before the title sequence, I’d already managed to choose what was probably the wrong wedding dress, kill Kimmy and Titus and been told to go back and try again. This is not the comic young sister to Netflix’s first choose-you-own-adventure Black Mirror: Bandersnatch– here, there are definitely wrong answers and our favourite characters waste no time telling us that we’ve made the wrong choice and it might be wise to go back and give it another go. These are mini-endings of a sort - your choices lead directly to a conclusion (stomping the Reverend to death, or smooching Frederick) that cuts the story short immediately and offers you the chance to return to an earlier decision.
This does mean that Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs The Reverend isn’t quite a choose-your-own-adventure in the conventional sense but it does mean there is less worry about missing out on elements of the story. There’s a handful of points at which the story does diverge and carry on (specifically, when you choose to either take Titus or Jacqueline to a backwater county to find the other bunker, splitting the narrative into two narratives) but for the most part, you don’t need to worry about missing out. There’s ample opportunities to go back and try it again. Though, for the record I would highly recommend selecting Lillian to attempt to seduce Frederick at his bachelor party if you choose that route…
Whilst everything may have appeared neatly tied up at the end of season four, it turns out that the Reverend might be even more dastardly than Kimmy realises. In a conversation with her talking backpack (and best friend), she discovers a choose-your-own-adventure book that she used to read in the bunker. Completely normal, except that the book was checked out the library AFTER Kimmy and the other Indiana Mole Women were kidnapped. Kimmy’s conclusion? There must be another bunker! Her mission (if we choose to accept it) – to confront the Reverend in prison and save the other women. All of our favourites are here to play – plus Kimmy’s new fiance – British royalty, Frederick, played by none other than screen royalty, Daniel Radcliffe.
The sharp wit and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-humour that makes Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt so distinguishable is here in abundance. From Titus’s ‘Sliding Doors: Tokyo Doors’ poster, to Daniel Radcliffe performing the apparently British version of eeny meeny miny mo (“jumpy bumpy wiggle and shout”) - plus Lillian’s usual excellent one liners – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs The Reverend brings back all the elements that make the show so silly, funny and downright watchable. It’s exactly what we expect from an episode of the show, with added extras – the way in which the characters hinted towards choices during the decision screens was a magical touch, is just one example.
Perhaps the question isn’t whether Kimmy Schmidt’s story calls for an interactive episode. We know the answer: it doesn’t, and (being realistic) Kimmy’s story was perfectly rounded off at the end of season four. It’s not about whether it needed to be done, but that the ‘Interactive Special’ is a stupidly fun way to spend circa two hours of your time right now. It’s uplifting, it’s belly-achingly funny and above all, it’s there to be thoroughly enjoyed. None of it makes any logical sense and there's barely a narrative arc, but who cares? Not me. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has always been about taking a bad situation and seeing the upsides, and there’s a lot of upsides to enjoy about this particular choose-your-own-adventure. Just make sure you choose the right 'Freebird' (and feel free to continually opt to kill the Reverend, if you fancy a bonus scene set in hell!)