[UPDATED] “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” will keep on fighting. Netflix announced this morning that a fourth season of the Tina Fey and Robert Carlock comedy has been officially picked up. We don’t know much about the show’s future beyond that, though, which could potentially be a bad sign for the show’s creative future. Sometimes, the best thing that can happen to a show is for it to know when it’s ending.
Of course, fans of the offbeat and often dark comedy are undoubtedly pleased that the show will be coming back for Season 4, especially given the relatively inconclusive way in which Season 3 wrapped things up.
[Editor’s Note: Spoilers for Season 3, Episode 13, “Kimmy Bites an Onion!” follow.]
While the show has always been driven by Kimmy’s (Ellie Kemper) relentless optimism, the season finale ended on a relatively down note, with Kimmy not only flunking out of college, but getting rejected from the job she’d been interested in all season — crossing guard — because of the fact that she’s still technically married to the Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm).
Kimmy does receive an arguably better job at the very end of the finale, but emotionally there’s not much catharsis, especially in comparison to the ends of Season 1 and Season 2. Both seasons concluded with Kimmy making positive change in her life, confronting some of her most buried issues and find some relative level of peace.
In Season 3, perhaps the most cathartic moment is Kimmy finally using the word “rape” in relation to what happened to her time in the bunker, followed by, later in the season, making peace with the fact that her “secret past” is the furthest thing from secret, due to the fact that the people in her life have known about her story for years thanks to Google.
There are plenty of delightful secondary moments from the season, most of them revolving around Titus (Tituss Burgess) — including an epic tribute to Beyonce’s “Lemonade.” But what Kimmy’s new job signifies for her personal quests is an unanswered and formless question, and easily the show’s least satisfying ending yet.
And the cause for this is the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a clear plan in place for just how many seasons “Kimmy Schmidt” might run. This wasn’t a major problem for a show like “30 Rock,” which found plenty of story material thanks to its workplace comedy format. But “Kimmy Schmidt” is, at the end of the day, a show about a young woman’s very specific journey — a journey that might benefit greatly from an end date.
With a clear trajectory laid out in advance, the show’s core story about overcoming trauma and owning one’s own life could regain focus, especially as those themes apply to side characters like Titus and Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski), who tend to drift from storyline to storyline.
There could be a secret document in the “Kimmy Schmidt” writers’ room with a clearly laid plan for just how many seasons the show will continue, and what the final episodes might look like. But we didn’t see much evidence of that in Season 3. Instead, there was a lot of wheel-spinning.
The one-off jokes, the hilarious songs, the long-running references to things like whatever happened to Dionne Warwick or Kimmy and Titus’s sideways tugboat apartment building — all of the show’s details and small touches were as solid as ever. But at this point we have to hope for more from future seasons, and the best sign of that would be announcing how much more of the series we can expect to see.
Of course, one of the series’ enduring themes is that healing isn’t something that happens magically; it’s an ongoing process. But at some point, it’d be lovely to see Kimmy get something resembling a happy ending. And in order for that to happen, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” will have to end.
UPDATE: As reported by Deadline on May 3, 2018, “Kimmy Schmidt” will be ending, following its fourth season, with a movie-length wrap-up.
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” Seasons 1-3 are currently streaming on Netflix.