With a Season 3 renewal announced at TCA in January, one of Netflix’s most original of original series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, returned for a second season on April 15. As Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) was settling into life in NYC away from the bunker, the season offered plenty of new adventures for her and the eccentric denizens she surrounds herself with, including aspiring Broadway actor Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), failing socialite Jacqueline White (Jane Krakowski) and boisterous landlord Lillian (Carol Kane)—a family born, strangely, out of equal parts grief, frustration, and joie de vivre. Below, we gather the four stars of the show to discuss overly specific comedic references, Season 2 romance, and characters in transition.

Like the first season, Season 2 of Unbreakable is replete with silly, clever and very particular references.
Ellie Kemper: I never catch the references. Or the jokes.
Carol Kane: Me neither.

Really?
Kemper: Maybe the second or third time. That’s not true across the board, but largely true. The lucky thing is that those jokes were fun on several levels, so even if you’re a dummy like me and you don’t catch it the first time, it’s still funny. You just don’t know how funny it is.

Tituss, you have a love interest this season in construction worker Mikey. What has that been like for you?

Tituss Burgess: He falls hard. He finds something else to be obsessed with other than himself, and it’s interesting to watch him care about other people for a change.

Ellie Kemper and Tina Fet on set of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Ellie Kemper and Tina Fet on set of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Eric Liebowitz / Netflix

It was such a great setup, with Mikey finding your old clothes and you finding your way to him.
Kemper: They first met last season when Tituss is walking past the construction site. It’s so brilliant that they brought him back. [Mike Carlsen] is so funny, and I love this dynamic with Titus.
Burgess: Yeah. He’s actually a good friend of mine.
Jane Krakowski: Your scene where you and Mikey are sitting when the other construction workers come out, and he tells you not to talk or say anything gay, is the funniest thing. I rewound it twice.

Jacqueline also moves in a very different direction this season. She’s down to a mere $500,000.
Krakowski: There’s been a lot of great growth for all the characters this year. Being the first season that was written for Netflix, they were able to go to deeper relationships, deeper stories, and even to more depth of darkness—not in tone, but we meet Kimmy’s mom, and we learn a lot about how she was taken. That episode blew me away. Jacqueline first goes home to reconnect with her family, and is informed that perhaps her tribe is really back in Manhattan. Ultimately, she spends much of the season trying to come to terms with who she is now. She’s not Mrs. Voorhees anymore.

She finds her way into a more empathetic perspective.
Krakowski: I know. Just going back and forth, trying to be a better person really, or see more of who other people are—not just my one-percenter view—based on the influence of Kimmy.
Kemper: I hope so. Oh, good. Teacher, teacher.
Krakowski: I get mad at you because you made be better, remember?

For the Unbreakable crew, making the series is a family experience.
For the Unbreakable crew, making the series is a family experience.
Eric Liebowitz / Netflix

While the series has an absurdity to it, when you do go into these emotional moments, it never feels mawkish. There’s a sincerity that runs through it all. 
Kemper: That’s what’s so incredible about this series. It is, I think, a very sincere look at life, and all the good and bad that happens in it.
Krakowski: There’s always been an amazing balance that they were able to strike with the writing, to keep it so funny, but yet the initial premise is so dark. We’re talking about something very dark, very tragic, in such a sunny, optimistic world.
Kane: There’s survival at its core, which is such a positive core. Don’t you think we’re all kind of real survivors?

Your character, Lillian, is trying to survive gentrification. And you have a romantic fling of your own this season.
Kane: Yeah. Well, I don’t think mine is working out to the extent that Tituss’ is. It’s because of me that most things work out. I do have this problem with my neighborhood, which is really my heart is being transformed into something homogenous and its character is going away.

Ellie, what’s been the journey of Kimmy Schmidt this season?
Kemper: With the end of last season, Kimmy thought all of her troubles were behind her. She put the reverend in jail. That’s clean cut. She wants to put that away, very tidily in a box, but then she has the rest of the world and her life to deal with. I think this season for Kimmy is about understanding that the bunker can never be eliminated from her memory, but also, that there’s a lot to her that does not have anything to do with the bunker. There’s a lot of time devoted to the fact that the world is not black and white.

Will there be more musical numbers going forward?
Krakowski: These guys had a lot. I need to move in with you guys.
Kemper: It’s not in Jacqueline’s nature necessarily, right, to sing? Which is too bad.
Krakowski: I think initially they wanted to make Jacqueline…
Kemper: A non-singing person?
Krakowski: Yes, exactly.
Kemper: That stinks, because look at who’s playing her.
Krakowski: The show has become so wonderfully musical, so now, I feel maybe we can adjust that.
Kane: What’s wrong with a damn dream sequence now and again?