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Netflix’s ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ Interactive Special Shows the Pointlessness of Interactive TV

Netflix / Screenshot

Netflix released a new, roughly feature-length Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt special today, titled ‘Kimmy vs the Reverend’. Much like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, it’s interactive and you, the viewer, can decide how the narrative goes at several decision points along the way. While this seems like a interesting and fun idea, it is almost entirely pointless and only serves to distract from what is the funniest Kimmy Schmidt episode since the first season.

The basic plot of the special is that while Kimmy is preparing for her wedding, she finds a library book in her backpack that doesn’t belong to her and realizes Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, who kidnapped her and kept her in a bunker for 15 years, had a second bunker with more girls who are still locked in it, and Kimmy sets off to free them before he wedding.

The big problem is that plot is basically not impacted by the choices you make. There are, as far as I can tell, four subtly different versions of the “real” ending to the special, with the differences being what dress Kimmy wears and the outcome of a subplot with Jaqueline and Titus. A few scenes have slightly different versions along the way, as well, but most of the time one of the choices you make leads to a “bad” ending that plays out for a minute or two before rewinding back to the decision point so you can make the “right” choice.

The biggest disappointment and missed opportunity comes when Kimmy has to choose whether to go on her trip to find the second bunker with either Jacqueline or Titus. Choosing Jacqueline leads to a pretty funny bad ending, but you can only progress the special with Titus. I realize this was probably a budgetary concern, but having two parallel paths through the special, one with Jacqueline and one with Titus, would have made this feel a lot more interactive and a lot less like it was a gimmick that added very little to the special versus just making a traditional feature-length special.

As it is, the special feels like a parody of interactive TV shows, but it’s only the second one Netflix has done; there’s not a lot to parody. But there are a lot of pretty inspired jokes and some of the dead-end choices lead to funny moments that the show wouldn’t have otherwise been able to do; there just aren’t enough of these moments to justify the choose-your-own-adventure format.

But, if you’re a fan of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, even if you (correctly) feel the show got less and less funny and interesting as it went on, the specially is well worth watching. It’s just not really worth watching again to see what’s different, because the answer is “not much.”

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