Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is the funniest thing I’ve seen all year. Much of that humour comes from the friction between the show’s absurd characters and its uneasy commentaries on race, gender and class. One such scene happens mid-season and stars my favourite character as a werewolf.
Titus Andromedon (played by Tituss Burgess) is a gay black man with dreams of starring on Broadway. In the throes of a 10-year-long rough patch in his career, he finds himself depicting Frankenwolf (or more accurately, one of Dr. Frankenwolf’s creations) at a theme restaurant. Check out the embedded GIF screencaps below to see how his first commute to work as a werewolf goes.
Burgess discusses the scene in a recent interview in Vulture:
One of the most brilliant Titus scenes is the werewolf scene, in which Titus discovers he is treated better as a werewolf than a black man in the streets of New York. Who came up with that idea, and what was your initial reaction when you first read that?
That was all Tina and Robert and their team. My first reaction was, Oh, God, I don’t want to sit in the chair for three hours and put on this makeup [laughs]. But they have such a brilliant way of extracting humor and a different perspective out of some pretty heavy topical issues to make us reexamine how we, in everyday life, look at it. And once I realized that that’s what was going on in the story line, the werewolf was the least of it. It was going to serve a far greater purpose, and I was of course onboard.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is getting rave reviews, but it’s also catching flak from some quarters for its portrayal of minorities, particularly African Americans, Native Americans and gay men. I’ve seen all thirteen episodes and although some scenes (like the one I’m posting about here) were a bit on the transgressive side, they weren’t lazy and didn’t settle for cheap laughs. They encouraged me to think about my own position in society, and while I didn’t find anything in the show to be overtly offensive, I’m not black, Native, a gay man – or a werewolf.
Your mileage may vary. Regardless of whether you found this scene (or anything else) in the show to be [tumblr]problematic[/tumblr], one thing’s for sure – females are strong as hell.