Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was born of an awareness that there is a certain type of “ebullient young women” who survive “something awful and still come out the other side optimistic,” said co-creator Tina Fey today at a TCA panel for the show.
Though the first season was conceived for NBC before the show moved to Netflix, Kimmy‘s broadcast roots remain part of its DNA, Fey said. Despite Netflix’s relative lack of restrictions, a string of obscenities on Kimmy might well get drowned out by another character’s dialogue. That feels appropriate, Fey said, “for this particular show” and the sunniness of its lead character. Fey said she’s heard from friends who watch the show with their young daughters. “As a mom I would hate to trust a show and then turn it on and it’s about prison sex. That has its place, but you need to know before you put it on,” she joked.
And although Netflix doesn’t command the 21 minutes and 15 second corset of broadcast sitcoms, Kimmy runs only slightly longer at 27 minutes, a length that’s “delightful for storytelling and breathing room around jokes,” said Fey. Even with the absence of commercials, Fey and cocreator Robert Carlock still find themselves writing “toward imaginary act breaks.”
Most liberating? The lack of overnight ratings. “My only other experience was at 30 Rock,” Fey said, adding that the show was “a constant disappointment” ratings-wise. Recalling those day-after conversations at work, Fey said the common refrain was “this can’t possibly be true” and “they don’t add in DVR.”
Asked if she’d try to reach a more mainstream audience in the show’s second season, Fey shot back sweetly, “I think the network had the chance to put it on.”