The 25 best episodes of 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt', ranked

The 25 best episodes of 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt', ranked

Tina Fey and Robert Carlock became inadvertent pioneers. After the success of the joke factory known as “30 Rock,” the two created a new show for NBC. However, they passed on the premise, leaving the show up in the air. It then ended up at Netflix, paving the way for other shows to end up at the streaming giant, be they new shows or rebooted ones. The show, which was originally to be titled “Tooken,” became “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” From a quality perspective, it’s the most successful original comedy Netflix has produced. Sure, the premise is a bit dark. Kimmy is a woman who is abducted as a teenager and effectively held prisoner in a bunker by a cult leader who tells his followers the world has ended. Many years later, she reenters the world, and the adventure of the show begins. Despite that bleak opening, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is another hilarious show packed with jokes from Fey. We’ve selected the 25 fudgin’ best episodes of the show and decided to rank them. Here is how that turned out.

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25. “Kimmy is in a Love Square!”

“Kimmy is in a Love Square!”

Kimmy goes on a date with a guy from work in the final season of the show but ends up really enjoying spending time with his parents more. This is kind of a well-worn trope, but the fact Kimmy basically had no chance to have a relationship with her parents growing up, and has a fraught relationship with them as an adult, gives this a little extra heft from a storytelling perspective.

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24. “Kimmy Kisses a Boy!”

“Kimmy Kisses a Boy!”

Of the other so-called “Mole Women” of Indiana, Cyndee is the one Kimmy has the most substantive relationship with. One of his first big episodes comes in this one, which is where Kimmy has a romantic kiss for the first time in her adulthood. However, the episode is mostly about Kimmy reconciling how sympathy is getting Cyndee many things she wants, while Kimmy mostly tries to keep the fact she was in the bunker to herself.

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23. “Kimmy Goes on a Playdate!

“Kimmy Goes on a Playdate!

One of the early trailers for “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” involved a construction worker catcalling Kimmy, but her being oblivious. Who would have thought that guy, presumably a one-off joke, would become a recurring, vital character to the show? This episode really brings Mikey into the picture, and he would become a love interest to Titus.

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22. “Kimmy is…Little Girl, Big City!”

“Kimmy is…Little Girl, Big City!”

The fourth season begins with a lot of changes for Kimmy and her crew. This includes Kimmy getting a real “adult” job in New York at a tech company. However, her guilelessness accidentally leads to her getting suspended for a sexual harassment complaint. Fey and Carlock never shied from turning darker subjects into comedy fodder, and they made that work with “Little Girl, Big City.”

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21. “Party Monster: Scratching the Surface”

“Party Monster: Scratching the Surface”

This episode mostly earns points for thinking outside of the box. “Party Monster” is an episode-length fake true-crime documentary. It’s about a doofus DJ who was trying to find his favorite DJ, DJ Slizzard, to DJ his wedding. Slizzard turns out to be the Reverand Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, the maniac who kept Kimmy and the other women in the bunker all those years. Is it done perfectly? No, but it gets points for being ambitious and different.

6 of 25

20. “Kimmy’s Roommate Lemonades!”

“Kimmy’s Roommate Lemonades!”

Look, this episode features Titus doing a parody of Beyonce’s “Lemonade.” We didn’t need anything more. It’s completely ridiculous but incredibly funny. Even if you haven’t seen any of the “Lemonade” stuff, you probably can still appreciate the reference and get some laughs from it.

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19. “Kimmy is Bad at Math!”

“Kimmy is Bad at Math!”

Titus gets a job as a werewolf in a horror-themed restaurant and realizes people treat him better when he’s dressed like a werewolf out in the streets than as a black man. That’s dark, but it’s pointed and funny. This is also a fine episode for Jacqueline, who we haven’t mentioned yet, but she’s a great character brought to indelible life by the legend that is Jane Krakowski. Fey knows how to give Krakowski the best material for her particular skill set.

8 of 25

18. “Kimmy Does a Puzzle!”

“Kimmy Does a Puzzle!”

Kimmy doing a puzzle is not as important as the episode title would make you believe. This episode is more about finally finding out what happened between Titus and Dionne Warwick on a cruise ship, an event that haunts Titus to some degree. The casting of Maya Rudolph as Warwick is a stroke of genius.

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17. “Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!”

“Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!”

Gretchen is the one woman from the bunker who went there willingly and didn’t really seem all that bothered by it. She’s a true believer who is seemingly always on the lookout for the next cult or extremist group to join. Kimmy, as an eminently empathetic person, doesn’t want that to happen and goes to extreme lengths to try and keep Gretchen from going down the cult path again. In the end, Kimmy learns that she can’t really dictate how other people live their lives.

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16. “Kimmy Has a Weekend!”

“Kimmy Has a Weekend!”

Two great pairings have good storylines in this episode. Kimmy and Titus have a lazy weekend, though Titus also pretty much has lazy weekdays as well. Meanwhile, Jacqueline and Lillian are working together to get Jacqueline’s apartment back. Those two are quite different from each other, but they are a tremendous pairing as characters. Whenever they get to work together it’s a delight.

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15. “Kimmy’s in a Love Triangle!”

“Kimmy’s in a Love Triangle!”

From a love square to a love triangle. Kimmy finds herself in the middle of a complicated situation with a British man named Logan and Dong, a fellow student of hers in her GED class. That’s all well and good, but the real standout here is Titus hiring an acting coach (excellently played by Dean Norris) to teach him how to “act straight” to get roles.

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14. “Kimmy Finds Her Mom!”

“Kimmy Finds Her Mom!”

Kimmy’s parents are barely a part of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” which is perhaps not surprising. The lack of parental involvement in her life kind of played a part in the horrors she had to endure for so many years of her life. In the second-season finale, Kimmy is able to track down her mom at Universal Studios. Played by Lisa Kudrow, they managed to both make the mom odious but sympathetic, which is a tricky line to walk. Never has a roller coaster provided so much dramatic heft.

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13. “Kimmy Goes to Court!”

“Kimmy Goes to Court!”

When the first season of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” starts to wrap up, the trial of Reverend Wayne begins. This is where we should mention the Reverend is played by Jon Hamm, who is fantastic in the role. It’s quite hard to make a character who is genuinely a monster also funny, but Hamm makes it work. There’s real emotional weight to Kimmy returning to Indiana to testify in the trial, but every episode of the show is also loaded with a ton of jokes.

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12. “Kimmy Gets a Job!”

“Kimmy Gets a Job!”

This is only the second episode of the show, but it was already so strong. Maybe the characters weren’t fully fleshed out yet, but in truth, Kimmy felt like a rich character from the beginning of the show’s run. Here Kimmy is able to get her job working for Jacqueline back, and also even begin something of a friendship with her. This is also the beginning of the fun dynamic between Kimmy and Jacqueline’s daughter Xanthippe.

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11. “Kimmy Meets an Old Friend!”

“Kimmy Meets an Old Friend!”

The old friend in question? That would be Kimmy’s backpack she wears for much of the first episode. It gets stolen, and that is the first bit of real hard luck she feels in the outside world after escaping the bunker. Getting the backpack back, and personifying it, helps Kimmy cope a bit, but is she also regressing at the same time? And can Titus successfully pitch his new TV series?

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10. “Kimmy Bites an Onion!”

“Kimmy Bites an Onion!”

For starters, this is just a funny episode title. Even using the format of almost every episode title of the show it’s just really amusing. So much happens in the third season finale. Kimmy tries to get a job but can’t because of the Reverend. Titus gets a lot of money for the “Boobs in California” song he worked on and tries to win Mikey back. Even Lillian and Artie, her short-lived boyfriend, have some fun stuff in this episode.

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9. “Kimmy Goes to a Play!”

“Kimmy Goes to a Play!”

Titus putting on a play about one of his perceived past lives is a little weird and some people had a problem with it, but there are good jokes and absurdity in that and there’s a lot more going on in this episode. Lillian’s ongoing attempts to fight gentrification in her neighborhood is usually always funny, and Jacqueline trying to make her ex-husband jealous.

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8. “Kimmy is Rich*!”

“Kimmy is Rich*!”

The second-to-last episode features an amusing turn by Zachary Quinto but  also Titus’ adventures in the world of “Cats.” In the world of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Cats” isn’t an actual musical or a show, but just a bunch of aspiring actors who just jump on the stage and pretend like they are part of a show. Honestly, it’s the most plausible explanation for “Cats” we’ve ever heard.

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7. “Kimmy Goes Outside!”

“Kimmy Goes Outside!”

The first episode of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” has a lot of work to do. Kimmy has to go on a wild adventure, meet Titus, Lillian, and Jacqueline, and so much more. They also have to get us to laugh despite the dark nature of the premise. It worked. The episode, written by Fey and Carlock, is hilarious, but we also understand why network television may have blanched at it.

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6. “Sliding Van Doors”

“Sliding Van Doors”

Alternative versions of what could have been pop up in movies and TV all the time. After all, this episode title is a riff on the film “Sliding Doors.” This episode delves into what would have happened if Kimmy hadn’t gotten into the Reverend’s van back in the day, and also if Titus had missed his audition for “The Lion King.” It doesn’t turn out well for them, but it does turn out funny for the viewers.

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5. “Kimmy Goes to College!”

“Kimmy Goes to College!”

This is the episode where Titus ends up singing on “Boobs in California” for conspiracy-minded musicians. It’s also where Kimmy gets offered a scholarship to Columbia, where Xanthippe also goes. Ellie Kemper submitted this episode when she was nominated for an Emmy, and we agree with her that it’s quite good.

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4. “Kimmy Goes to School!”

“Kimmy Goes to School!”

Lillian and Titus making a music video secretly in Jacqueline’s house is hilarious, but the main story is also great. Kimmy goes back to school by enrolling in a GED class where her teacher doesn’t care about anything. That teacher is played by Richard Kind, who is always a welcome addition. It’s like the inverse of the classic trope of a teacher inspiring their underachieving students.

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3. “Kimmy Says Bye!”

“Kimmy Says Bye!”

If we don’t include the interactive movie (and we aren’t personally), this is the end of the “Kimmy Schmidt” story. The series finale features everybody at the crossroads, especially since the building that Lillian, Titus, and Kimmy is scheduled to be demolished. We wanted to see the show end on an uplifting, high note, but without feeling too overwrought or unearned. “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” thread that needle quite well.

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2. “Kimmy Goes to a Hotel!”

“Kimmy Goes to a Hotel!”

With a show that streams and can be watched whenever holiday episodes are harder to do. Of course, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” just goes ahead and does a “Fake Christmas” episode instead. Kimmy and Dong sneaking away to an abandoned hotel in the Poconos is also a lot of fun, even if it doesn’t end as they hope.

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1. “Kimmy Goes to a Party!”

“Kimmy Goes to a Party!”

Rarely is a show’s best episode in its first season, but “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” gave us its best episode in only its seventh outing. Jacqueline’s husband throws a surprise cocktail party, and she plans to use it to catch him in infidelity. She enlists Kimmy’s help, and Kimmy in turn gets Titus to come sing at the party. It’s farcical, it’s hilarious, and it’s a great ensemble cast at its peak. Nothing ever got better than Kimmy going to a party.

Chris Morgan is a sports and pop culture writer and the author of the books The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Ash Heap of History. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisXMorgan.

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