15 Fun Facts About Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Eric Liebowitz/Netflix
Eric Liebowitz/Netflix

Since its debut in the spring of 2015, Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has become a bona fide pop culture obsession. The brainchild of Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, who worked together on Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock, the comedy series has also scored major accolades from critics, as evidenced by the 11 Emmy nominations it has (so far) received, including nods for Outstanding Comedy Series in both 2015 and 2016. Here are 15 things you might not know about the streaming series.

1. IT WAS ORIGINALLY TITLED TOOKEN.

Inspired by her two daughters—ages four and 10—Tina Fey originally intended for the series to be called Tooken. NBC, the original network behind the show, however, rejected the title.

2. HAD THE TITLE STUCK, THE THEME SONG WOULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT.

While fans of the series will undoubtedly recognize “Unbreakable! They alive, damnit! It’s a miracle!” as the catchy chorus behind Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s theme song, Tooken would have had a slightly different tune. As gathered from an October 22, 2013 draft of the Tooken pilot script, Mr. Bankston would have sung something to the auto-tuned likes of:

Them girls got tooken / I was cutting up bike tires with my grandson when outta nowhere/ forty hundred police vehicles came bookin’ / they went busting in that weird old white dude’s house / we call him “Spiral Eyes” / my wife says he’s just a nerd / I say cult! / I knew somethin’ was up ‘cuz I seen him in town at Publix buying feminine napkins. Who that for?!

3. WHEN THE TITLE CHANGED, SO DID THE SHOW’S DIRECTION.

Veering away from the darker side of Kimmy’s past, Fey and Carlock decided to focus on Kimmy moving forward with her life. “Once we agreed upon this [title], it ended up informing the episodes. They did end up leaning more towards the positive and the future as opposed to what had happened in the past,” Fey told BuzzFeed. Because of this, the darker humor was toned down, as demonstrated by the removal of a scene in the early draft in which Kimmy, after discovering a rat in the bunker, is locked inside a metal box by the Reverend.

4. THERE WAS A FIFTH MOLE WOMAN.

Another element removed from Tooken was the story of a fifth mole woman. In the early draft, an FBI agent named Clarisse finds herself as the fifth member of the bunker. She explains her capture to Matt Lauer in the beginning of the episode: While following a tip, she finds the Reverend at his farmhouse in Indiana. He, however, quickly disarms her and throws her in an old refrigerator, keeping her there until she is willing to join the others in the bunker.

5. KIMMY WAS WRITTEN WITH ELLIE KEMPER IN MIND.

"I still am not sure what in my face screams 'bunker-cult victim' to [show creators Robert Carlock and Tina Fey], but something did, so they went with that," star Ellie Kemper told NPR about the title role being written specifically for her.

6. AUDIENCES ALMOST MISSED OUT ON MEETING KIMMY ALTOGETHER.

Eric Liebowitz/Netflix

Even with its new title and more positive spin, NBC feared that Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt wouldn’t be a good fit with their drama-heavy TV lineup. If it failed to generate positive ratings, the network would have no choice but to cancel the show in which they had already invested 13 episodes. Because of this, in November of 2014, NBC happily agreed to sell the series to Netflix, who made a two-season commitment.

7. THE MOVE TO NETFLIX GAVE THE CREATORS MORE FREEDOM.

While the first six episodes of the series were originally edited with the thinking that they would air on NBC, the creators were allowed to reedit the episodes once Netflix purchased the series. Jokes that were deemed unfit for broadcast were allowed to be edited back in, breaks in the story for commercials were removed, and the episodes were no longer constrained to fit the network’s 22-minute time slot.

8. EVEN THOUGH TITUS ANDROMEDON WAS NAMED AFTER TITUSS BURGESS, THE ACTOR STILL HAD TO AUDITION FOR THE PART.

Impressed with his appearances on 30 Rock, Carlock and Fey found themselves developing the character of Titus for Burgess. But they weren’t sure whether Burgess had the singing prowess the character needed. “We thought, okay, he can hit one-liners, and he has presence and style, but we started to mold the character without really knowing how deep the chest was,” Carlock told Entertainment Weekly. “I mean, he had to audition for a part named after him!"

9. “PEENO NOIR” WAS A LAST-MINUTE ADDITION.

Jeff Richmond, Fey’s husband and composer/executive producer for both Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and 30 Rock, admitted that Titus’s tune, “Peeno Noir,” was thought up on the spot. Behind schedule on that particular day of shooting, Richmond played the ringtone beat while the writers shouted out rhymes for Burgess to perform. It wasn’t until after the footage was shot that Richmond began layering in the different elements of the song, turning it into the viral hit we know today.

And as for the beat? Richmond confessed that the beat behind “Peeno Noir” comes from the 30 Rock segment “La Piscine,” in which Denise Richards sings about her love for the pool. “We needed something,” Richmond told The Hollywood Reporter. “We were shooting in 10 minutes, so Giancarlo [Vulcano, Richmond's music associate] said, ‘What about 'La Piscine’?” and we said, ‘OK, perfect.’”

10. BURGESS NOW HAS HIS OWN BRAND OF PINOT NOIR.

Thanks to the immense popularity of “Peeno Noir,” Burgess decided to create his own brand of Pinot Noir. Pinot By Tituss was first announced via Burgess’s Instagram and became available to consumers on March 14, 2016. A 2014 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir, Pinot by Tituss is described as possessing "aromas of dried fruits, slate, subtle rosemary, coriander and roses lead to flavors of plum and black cherry cola.”

11. FEY AND CARLOCK HAD ALWAYS INTENDED FOR JANE KRAKOWSKI TO PLAY JACQUELINE VOORHEES.

Eric Liebowitz/Netflix

However, when it came time to film the pilot, Krakowski was unavailable as she was committed to Fox’s comedy Dead Boss. So actress Megan Dodds was cast in the role. After it was announced that Krakowski’s Dead Boss had been canceled, she was quickly brought in to replace Dodds as Jacqueline Voorhees. Trusting Fey and Carlock from their 30 Rock days together, Krakowski agreed to the part without having read the scripts.

With Dodds out, Krakowski reshot the few scenes in which Jacqueline appears in the pilot. “There were no actors there, but I read the scene with a stand-in and script supervisor,” Krakowski told The Hollywood Reporter. “They just pasted me in, and I started filming a few weeks later. I really didn't even know who I was playing. It was that quick. We filmed it properly again once I knew where everything was going.”

12. THE CREATORS FOUND EVEN GREATER FREEDOM WITH SEASON TWO.

Unlike the first season, season two’s writing began with the knowledge that all 13 episodes would stream directly on Netflix. Because of this, a whole new world opened up for the show, one full of jokes, themes, and storylines that would otherwise be unimaginable for network television. But Fey and Carlock had to fight the many temptations of this newfound freedom, and instead they focused on what had brought them success in season one. “We definitely have the freedom to kind of explore these ideas, but we also became aware just anecdotally after season one premiered that we have, in a lot of ways, a very young audience," Fey said.

13. THERE WAS A SLIGHT DELAY WITH SEASON THREE.

While a third season of Kimmy Schmidt was confirmed in early 2016, it took a little while to reach audiences. In order to debut its second season in the spring of 2016, season two filmed throughout the summer of 2015. But filming of season three had to be delayed due to a couple of timing issues—both of them happy ones: Tina Fey working on adapting Mean Girls into a musical and Ellie Kemper being pregnant with her first child; Kemper's son, James Miller Koman, was born in the summer of 2016.

14. THERE'S A CONNECTION BETWEEN KIMMY SCHMIDT AND THE AMERICANS.

In 2015, one eagle-eyed viewer noticed a strange connection between Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and The Americans: the opening credits for both series contain the same footage of a little girl hula-hooping. While The Gregory Brothers, who created the trailer for Kimmy Schmidt, denied any connection, the Internet concocted some entertaining common universe fan theories:

15. EVEN MORE KIMMY SCHMIDT IS ON THE WAY.

On June 13, 2017, just a few weeks after season three's debut, Netflix demonstrated its faith in the newest episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt by renewing the show for a fourth season.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

15 Facts About Pee-wee's Big Adventure On Its 35th Anniversary

Paul Reubens in Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985).
Paul Reubens in Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985).
Warner Home Video

He may be a perpetual man-child, but Pee-wee Herman has been around for more than four decades (the character made his first appearance in 1977). His first feature film, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, debuted in August of 1985. Since then, millions of people have no doubt pondered the question, "Does the Alamo have a basement?" The answer is, yes! Read on for more fascinating facts about Pee-wee and his big adventure.

1. Pee-wee's Big Adventure was originally supposed to be a remake of Pollyanna.

Paul Reubens in Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985).Warner Home Video

Before the inspiration struck for the quest for Pee-wee’s missing bicycle, the writers planned on more or less remaking the Disney classic Pollyanna. Pee-wee would arrive in a new town in need of some fresh perspective, and by the end of the movie, he would have endeared himself to even the most curmudgeonly of the citizens.

2. The movie changed when Warner Bros. gave Paul Reubens a Schwinn.

Cast and crew members often take bicycles around studio lots to get from point A to point B. Reubens was given a 1940s Schwinn to ride while he was at Warner Bros. working on the movie script; he loved it so much he decided to retool the whole Pollyanna concept.

3. Pee-wee's Big Adventure is a retelling of Bicycle Thieves.

Paul Reubens in Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985).Warner Home Video

After the idea of Pee-wee as Pollyanna bit the dust, the script ended up turning into a “surrealistic reworking” of Bicycle Thieves, an essential example of Italian Neorealism that was given an Honorary Oscar and regularly shows up on every “must-see” film list. But Pee-wee’s Big Adventure has its own champions ...

4. Pee-wee's Big Adventure made Roger Ebert’s list of “Guilty Pleasures.”

Though he never officially rated the movie, in 1987 Ebert confessed that it made his list of Guilty Pleasure movies:

“The movie is not just a strange little man acting goofy. Pee-wee has created a whole fairytale universe as consistent and fascinating as Alice’s Wonderland or the world of the Hobbits in The Lord of the Rings. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure is one of those movies like The Wizard of Oz, I think, that kids can look at in one state of mind while the grown-ups enjoy it on a completely different level.”

5. Paul Reubens fought to get a 26-year-old Tim Burton to direct Pee-wee's Big Adventure.

Although Paul Reubens had a long list of directors he wanted to work with, the studio chose one not on the list. Rather than go along for the sake of getting the movie made, Reubens put his foot down and refused to proceed. Shortly thereafter, one of Reubens’s friends mentioned a short film called Frankenweenie (the precursor to the feature-length movie that came out in 2012) by Tim Burton. Reubens was friends with Shelley Duvall, who was in the Burton film, so he gave her a call. She agreed that Reubens and Burton would make a perfect match, and the connection was made. “It was the biggest piece of luck early on in my career that I could have had,” Reubens later said.

6. Pee-wee's Big Adventure was Tim Burton and Danny Elfman's first collaboration.

Not only was Pee-wee's Big Adventure Tim Burton’s first big movie, it was also Danny Elfman’s. Elfman wasn’t actually scoring films at the time, at least not on the scale that he is now. But Burton knew him through his work with Oingo Boingo, and Paul Reubens knew him from music he had written for a film called Forbidden Zone. After meeting with Burton to chat about the project, Elfman went home with a tune in his head.

“I did a demo on a four track tape player, playing all the parts, and I made a cassette and sent it to him and never expected to hear from him again," Elfman told Entertainment Weekly in 2015. "But that piece of music became the main title of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, and it got me the job. I was really shocked.” It was, of course, the beginning of a longtime collaboration and friendship.

7. Elizabeth Daily, a.k.a. Dottie, is the voice of Tommy Pickles.

In addition to acting in front of the camera, Elizabeth Daily is also a talented voice actress. If you don’t know her as Tommy Pickles in Rugrats or Buttercup in The Powerpuff Girls, you’ve probably heard her in a number of small roles in Wreck-It Ralph, Happy Feet, and many, many more. She was also on season 5 of The Voice.

8. Tim Burton has a cameo in Pee-wee's Big Adventure.

Tim Burton made a cameo in Pee-wee's Big Adventure, which you can watch below:

9. Warner Bros. thought Pee-wee's Big Adventure was weird.

After seeing the finished product, the studio wasn’t so sure it wanted to put much more money behind Pee-wee's Big Adventure. Finding it all a bit bizarre, they decided to roll the film out slowly and on a regional basis. When it proved to be popular with even a limited audience, Warner cranked up the publicity machine. By the time all was said and done, Pee-wee had earned nearly $41 million at the box office.

10. Phil Hartman co-wrote the script for Pee-wee's Big Adventure.

Reubens and SNL legend Phil Hartman originally developed the Pee-wee character when they were in the Groundlings together. HBO picked up Pee-wee for a comedy show in 1981, which is what eventually led to the movie in 1985. Hartman was Reubens’s writing partner throughout all of that, and also for Pee-wee’s Playhouse, where he made occasional appearances as Kap’n Karl.

11. Pee-wee’s bicycle from Pee-wee's Big Adventure was sold on eBay in 2014.

Though Pee-wee estimated his bike’s value at “a hundred million, trillion, billion dollars” in the movie, it didn’t quite fetch that much when it was sold on eBay in 2014. It did, however, sell for $36,600.

12. There were at least 10 bikes used in Pee-wee's Big Adventure.

Warner Home Video

Missed out on the auction? Never fear—there could still be an authentic Pee-wee bike in your future, since at least 10 bikes were built for use in the film. The Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh had one of them on display for a while.

13. Pee-wee's Big Adventure wasn’t the first time Paul Reubens did the “Pee-wee Dance.”

He performed it on The Gong Show in the late 1970s, but the choreography goes back even further than that. The dance, he has said, was actually inspired by a dirty joke his dad used to tell. “The joke was something [like] you put one thumb in your [Reubens points at his backside] and one in your mouth, and then you switch.”

14. The idea for Pee-wee's Playhouse came up at the Pee-wee's Big Adventure premiere.

Executives at CBS approached Reubens’s manager at the movie's premiere and wanted to know if “Pee-wee” was interested in doing a cartoon show. But Reubens had another format in mind, and asked how they would feel about something live-action.

“I was thinking about how important all those kids’ shows were to me when I was a kid, and how much I feel like they affected me, and that just seemed really exciting to me," he said. "I was really excited by the idea that doing a real kids’ show could potentially affect kids in an amazingly positive and great way.” Pee-wee’s Playhouse debuted a year later.

15. Large Marge almost got the axe from Pee-wee's Big Adventure.

It’s one of the most memorable scenes in the entire movie, but it almost didn’t make it to the screen. “I almost cut the best thing before an audience saw it,” Burton said in Burton on Burton. “It was a special effect and those are the first things to go.” IFC lists the scene as #5 on their list of "25 Scariest Moments in Non-Horror Movies."