The 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' Special Finally Gets 'Choose Your Own Adventure' TV Right
Netflix just released an Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt interactive special that's been in the works since the actual series ended last year. This was the latest in a line of interactive episodes from Netflix, including Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and that one where you kinda get to pick the gross or dangerous thing Bear Grylls has to do. Those were all fine in their own right, but what makes the Kimmy Schmidt special work is that, on top of being funny as heck (Kimmy wouldn't say h-e-double-hockey-sticks and we won't here either), it gives us more story-focused nerds who grew up on Choose Your Own Adventure or R.L. Stine's Give Yourself Goosebumps books what we've been aching for -- a "correct ending."
We should be able to break this down with no spoilers here. Essentially, it seems like this special took some cues from video games -- it wants you to clearly understand how this choice selection thing works, so you start off in a sort of trial mode. The show won't even play the dang theme song (which you should attempt to press the skip button on, trust us) until you make a couple of necessary choices that set you off on the show's main adventure, wherein Kimmy faces down the man who kept her in a bunker one final time before her wedding.
This is useful for anyone who has no idea who Kimmy Schmidt is, and anyone who's mostly unfamiliar with the series' plot can still watch/play along and gather what's going on. They're even kind enough to pepper in how Kimmy met Prince Frederick, her new fiance, who is played perfectly by Daniel Radcliffe.
Contrast this with the Bandersnatch, which was actually at least partly about video games, and expected you to sort of jump right in with the decision-making. Bandersnatch was so focused on being a choice-based entity that it occasionally forgot to tell a story. Its producers could never fully agree on how many endings there were, what exactly constitutes an ending, and are fairly certain they filmed scenes that are inaccessible through standard decision-making.
Most, if not all of the Bandersnatch endings tied things up. Still, many of the (sometimes drug-fueled, sometimes trauma-fueled) choices you make along the way were geared towards freaking you out, as a Black Mirror piece is wont to do -- but to the point where eventually you treated the episode as a puzzle, just trying to get to an ending. Similarly, the Bear Grylls You vs. Wild series can't let you actually endanger the host too badly, meaning that exploring all your different choices just becomes a chore. Structuring the shows like this puts the focus on the shtick of choosing what happens without truly giving you a choice. Yeah, there's ostensibly a story, but the plot is a means to an end with these shows.
Kimmy, on the other hand, says fudge that. Its got a definitive end goal, Kimmy's wedding to Prince Frederick. To that end, there are a number of choices throughout the special you can make that don't fudge up your decision tree; they're just fun.
Top Image: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt/Netflix