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Exciting Daily Show Family + Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt March 30, 2015

Posted by Erin Ptah in Works Roundup.
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Fake news family updates:

The upcoming new Daily Show host has been announced! And it’s Trevor Noah! The NYT has more.

I’m tentatively down with this. He’s not a total outsider to the show, with his all of three segments as a correspondent; he’s been inside the machine before. But he’s not a fixture, like Sam or Jason or John or back-in-the-day Stephen, so it won’t feel like “he should have a chance to break out and do his own thing, but instead he’s staying where he’s been forever and putting down roots.” He is very much an outsider to the US (don’t miss his episode of the TDS podcast, which talks about some of the culture shock between him and his co-workers) — if you appreciated John Oliver bringing some international perspective to US late-night comedy, just wait.

(It’s weird to think that some of the racist criticisms people level at Obama are actually true here. He didn’t grow up in the US! He wasn’t raised with our values! I don’t know enough about his outside-TDS career to say anything confident like “he’s definitely up for this,” but honestly, even if he crashes and burns, it’s bound to be enlightening and an interesting reflection on our respective cultures to see how he crashes and burns.)

So I’m rooting for Trevor to succeed, and looking forward to him no matter what.

In other fake news news:

This article about Jon’s next move has a graph of late-night comedy viewer stats…and Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show is fourth, beating out even Letterman. Now that’s fascinating. I assume the Late Show will get a jump when Stephen takes over, but I guess we’ll find out….

Aasif Mandvi’s long-awaited web sitcom, Halal in the Family, premieres April 13! Still not exactly sure where (its own site? Youtube?), but I’ve liked them on Facebook & am prepared to be all over this once it comes out.

Jon and the Daily Show singlehandedly convince the VA to double the number of veterans eligible for close-to-home healthcare. Good times.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt:

Marathoned this. Loved it. It’s a comedy about a recently-rescued cult survivor, and it does such a great job of managing the balance between “our heroine is a human being who deserves to have hilarious wacky adventures like everyone else” and “also, she’s a survivor of a pretty terrible ordeal, and it’s going to keep affecting her life.” (A couple of other prisoners were rescued along with Kimmy, so we get to see their different coping mechanisms, rather than having Kimmy stuck representing All Reactions To Escaping A Cult.)

An IRL cult survivor applauds the way the show treats those issues.

The big thing is that it feels like the comedy is coming from a place of Did The Research. There’s a sequence where the kidnapper is on trial, and he’s saying ridiculous, nonsensical things in his own defense, but he’s handsome and charismatic and everyone — from the jury to the prosecution — is buying it. He’s OTT bizarre, and it’s hilarious…and makes it unmistakable that the situation is “Kimmy is the Only Sane Woman here and it’s facepalm-worthy that everyone is getting sucked in by this guy’s charisma,” not “this guy might actually be nice, maybe Kimmy is overreacting.”

Reactions to how the show deals with race are more mixed, so I’ll just throw a bunch of links from more-informed bloggers out there. Here’s one author’s breakdown. One guy likes the treatment of gay black roommate Titus (and notes that the actor has input in developing the character, which helps make the characterization more about humanity than stereotype) but was let down by Asian love interest Dong and white-passing Native socialite Jacqueline. (Though he cites Dong as fitting the “hard-working Asian” stereotype, which is odd, given that we’re talking about a guy Kimmy meets in her GED class who doesn’t show up for study group half the time.) One Native blogger has complex but positive-leaning feelings about Jacqueline’s subplot, and another thought it was relatably-written and great.

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