15 Fun Facts About Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
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.
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.
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:
— Jared Currier (@JaredCurrier) March 11, 2015
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.