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Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Perfect 30 Rock replacement
Tina Fey basically brought back the entire "30 Rock" crew, as well as three cast members: Titus Burgess (D'Fwan from Queen of Jordan on "30 Rock") returns to play another outspoken gay man, Jane Kwakowski (actress Jenna Moroney on "30 Rock") also returns to play an even more emotionally damaged basket case; mad man Jon Hamm makes a hilarious cameo as an actual mad man, as does Tina herself as a criminal prosecutor who by comparison makes 30 Rock's Liz Lemon look like the most competent professional in existence.

Lead actress Ellie Kemper plays Kimmy Schmidt, and she's a perfect fit for the role. While Kemper's bubbly dork persona was forgettable at best next to comedy heavy weights Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph in "Bridesmaids," Tina Fey's created a world that compliments Kemper's eccentricities, allowing her to truly shine as a solo star, and she's perfect; all of the characters are perfect.

There is no dead weight. Every cast member is hilarious, fun, and memorable, from Kimmy and Tituss' alcoholic landlord to brief cameos (i.e. Dean Norris - Hank from "Breaking Bad" coming on as a straight coach for Tituss).

"Kimmy Schmidt" is the perfect replacement for "30 Rock." Both show are absolutely ridiculous, albeit recurring social commentaries surrounding a whole slew of topics including: wealth, poverty, religion, homosexuality, adolescence, the immigrant experience, cosmetic surgery, female struggles, and (of course) Indiana (small town legal system), where Kimmy was held captive for 15 years prior to the show.

Basically, it's another +1 for Netflix, and with the entire season amounting to approx. 4.5 hours of material, it requires little time investment; just bring your sense of humor and I'm sure it'll be an enjoyable watch.

Candidly Nicole

Taking the reality back out of reality television
Old reality television,such as Richie's joint venture with Paris Hilton "The Simple Life" or Flavor Flav's dating competition "Flavor of Love" as well as all of the Flav show's predecessors/spin-offs marked the genre's heyday; campy, tacky,obviously scripted and all with a PREMISE.

Noawadays, reality television is literally just filming people in their "everyday lives" (still staged productions, albeit less obvious); these shows, such as the Kardashian crap is boring and utterly pointless.

Here we have "Candidly Nicole": a happy marriage of the old prototype with the new, where Nicole is filmed in her "everyday life" however each episode is centered around a specific topic and it's all obviously scripted. In fact, it's almost as if the cast and crew went above and beyond to make it as fake looking as possible.

The show is a breath of fresh air for people who miss the hilarious camp of early-mid 2000's reality. It's meant to be ridiculous; it's meant to be comedy and anyone complaining about how it lacks "authenticity" are missing the point of reality TV in general. Maybe the sarcastic undertone was missed on some people but the title is clearly meant as irony; there's nothing candid about it. Nicole and co. are actively acting as ridiculous as possible FOR the camera. (sidenote: comedy is an art, and Nicole's timing is impeccable).

Personally, I view the Kardashian show as some cruel form of torture akin to tax season or getting lost in IKEA's mazes. I grew up on reality TV as a form of slapstick comedy, not some mundane chronicling of some petty, narcissistic brats. "Candidly Nicole" takes it back to what reality used to be and should still be. And if anything, it is a critique of the banality of Kardash drama. If you want to watch a cute, pint-sized woman act out everything that is wrong with contemporary society, this is the show for you.


Armisen and Brownstein at their finest
I never would have guessed that punk rocker Carrie Brownstein was this funny, and as for Fred Armisen, after 12 years on SNL, I naturally assumed those to be the peak of Armisen's sketch comedy genius, but then: Portlandia.

The characters are memorable (i.e. Feminist bookstore ladies) and the sketches are spot on at capturing the essence of hipster culture, various more generalized societal woes and everyday struggles.

Excerpt from Shocking Art Supplies sketch: "We've got baby doll parts; you can put them together any way you want" "Here's a radical juxtaposition; the butt is in the front" "What does that say about society"

As an art student,I took to this one, however every episode is packed with hilarious critiques and comedic genius from the dynamic duo Armisen and Brownstein.


Mindless fun, breaking minimal ground
The main character's backgrounds are rooted in long-standing black stereotypes (drug dealing hustlers from the hood, turned hip hop moguls), which is problematic if the show, boasting an almost all-black cast, is to be viewed as "the black experience." Unfortunately, in being one of the only serious television dramas centered fully around black lives, Empire's storyline can be misread as something universal. However, if viewed as situational the show breaks new ground on multiple levels.

First and foremost, the show offers relatively complex characters, who deal with various interpersonal relationships/conflicts, proving that black families are just as nuanced and complicated as any other race.

Second, the show flips the "token black" staple, by including a single white face, singer Elle Dallas, who just so happens to be played by rock legend Courtney Love.

Third, the show tackles homosexuality, both male and female, in the black community. While gay has become a staple as of late in with TV soap, it had yet to be dealt with in the context of black life, and, more specifically, the hip hop community, which is notoriously known for reinforcing homophobic views. Empire not only chooses to diverge from the stereotypes, offering a gay male who is both masculine and intelligent, but also confronts the hardships of rejection and identity crises in the face of homosexuality.

As a lover of music, Empire may not provides the most accurate depiction of the industry, but it does offer a substantial dose of superstar cameos from. As previously stated, Hole front-woman Courtney Love is on the show; Snoop Dogg and Mary J Blige are also set to make cameos, and rap legend Lil' Kim and singing sensation Mariah Carey have also been rumored to join the cast. So while not being the most intellectually advanced, lending itself to a younger audience, it also provides a nostalgic edge for the older generation.

All-in-all, the show is far from perfect. If you're looking for fun entertainment, I would definitely recommend. If depth or complexity is what you're going for, this is no "How to Get Away with Murder" or "Scandal." The plot is unrealistic and dumbed down. It's not painstakingly idiotic, but it doesn't require a single brain cell to follow along. Next to Viola Davis' Annalise Keating in the aforementioned "Murder," Taraji P Henson's Empire character, Cookie looks like a cardboard cutout - Cookie's a business saavy, witty, loving and devoted but she, as well as the rest of the characters, lacks true layers.

Empire's fun, mindless, and relatively politically correct fun. There isn't a dull moment. You won't be bored, but you won't be intellectually stimulated either. When one of the characters blasts President Obama, labeling him a "sellout," and the handling of that situation which follows, may spark off-air debate in with greater social implications, however offer little inherent substance.

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