Pasadena, Calif. – “You get more show” with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix, according to Tina Fey, the show’s cocreator and executive producer, speaking during a TCA winter press tour session for the show Sunday afternoon.
Originally developed for NBC, Netflix picked up the Universal TV-produced series for two seasons, the second of which premieres April 15 on Netflix. Right before the session, Netflix announced the Emmy-nominated comedy was renewed for a third season.
Broadcast timing for a comedy on NBC is about 21 minutes and 15 seconds. Without that restriction, the average length of Kimmy Schmidt episodes is about 27 minutes, Fey said. And that affords “more breathing room” around jokes and moments.
Fey touted additional breathing room afforded by having her show on Netflix--not having to worry about the network ratings pressure. Her experience producing 30 Rock on NBC was one of being constantly disappointed about viewer measurement, she said, noting her refrain was that they must not be adding the DVR ratings, “this can’t possibly be true!” She said it’s “very freeing to not be living by fear in that way.”
Members of the cast who joined Fey on the panel--Ellie Kemper, Jane Krakowski, Tituss Burgess and Carol Kane--reveled about their experiences starring in a show that’s released all at once.
“It’s amazing how the Netflix model works,” Krakowski said. “I felt like immediately everybody watched opening weekend but then you do feel like people do watch many months later based on friends' recommendations…it’s remarkable people still talk about it later.”
“It’s all been so lovely,” adds Burgess. “It’s different than normal network television, when it comes on every week,” he said. “It’s interesting to see the ripple effect, like opening night 12 times a year.”
Burgess said the reaction’s been “largely positive, Thank god. Thank Tina.”
Creatively and tonally the show is not much different than it would have been on NBC, Fey says. The original pilot was a bit darker, and Fey says it was the right call to shift it from the start: “I think we were right to tip it in the direction that we did.”
Although there are no commercial breaks, the show is still written in acts, building to crescendos. And given the producers became aware anecdotally after the first season that Kimmy Schmidt has a sizable young audience, Fey said she makes a point of sticking to storytelling that you can still watch with a 12- or 13-year-old viewer. Says Fey, “As a mom I would hate to turn on the show’s second season and … prison sex.”