YOU WANT optimism, Kimmy Schmidt will give you optimism.
New York, New York, big city of dreams.
The title character in “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” the Tina Fey/Robert Carlock sitcom whose 13 episodes drop Friday on Netflix, lands in New York, gets a taste of how rough it can be and still beams like a grownup version of Annie.
“I don’t know how you could always be that cheerful,” admits Ellie Kemper, who plays Kimmy. “I’m a pretty upbeat person myself. But Kimmy can’t conceive of ‘dark.'”
As it happens, Kemper had a warmup role for Kimmy. She played the almost-as-cheerful secretary Erin Hannon for 107 episodes on “The Office.”
Still, Kimmy has almost superhuman resilience. Her backpack and all her money are stolen. The only place she can live is a mattress-sized room in a basement apartment leased by her new odd-couple friend Titus (Tituss Burgess).
And still she keeps smiling.
When Titus offers her that tiny room, she joyfully exclaims, “It has a window!”
Okay, that is a big deal for her. She was held in underground captivity for years by a doomsday prophet.
Still, Kimmy’s cheerfulness can border on the irrational. It is, after all, a sitcom.
“There are cartoonish moments,” allows Kemper. “I’m wary about overplaying her.”
Meanwhile, the 34-year-old Kemper says she’s delighted to be filming in New York, where she lived for almost seven years while doing gigs like improv comedy.
“I didn’t have a ‘Friends’ apartment, either,” she says. “I slept on the floor a lot of the time. But it’s great to be back.”
She also likes being on Netflix.
“It means all 13 episodes will be seen,” she says. “You don’t always get that on television – and it’s great when it’s a show you believe in.