Netflix’s New Interactive Content: Kimmy Vs. The Reverend

Kimmy Vs. The Reverend brings closure to one of the most original comedies in Hollywood.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, starring Ellie Kemper and Titus Burgess, resurfaced for a 90-minute interactive special, bringing closure to fans after an abrupt end to the final season that left us feeling cheated and desperate for more of the cast’s bizarre antics.

When I first saw the trailer for the Netflix special on Titus Burgess’s Instagram, I was excited but a little confused because I couldn’t imagine why creator Tina Fey had decided to end it this way. ‘Kimmy Vs. The Reverend’, guest-starring Daniel Radcliffe, shows Kimmy finally getting the happy ending she deserves, after spending most of her young life in an underground bunker. Before she gets to walk off into the sunset with Prince, Radcliffe, she must go head-to-head with the Reverend one last time, as she discovers she and the other mole women, were not his only victims, as the Reverend had another bunker tucked away deep in the woods of West Virginia.

While all this is going on, the audience gets to make choices for the characters as the story progresses. Do not be fooled though; the cast did not film outcomes for every single choice you may have made (understandably). The story must go on, however, and if you do choose wrong, a cameo of a beloved cast member will appear to help you help Kimmy, get back on course.

Kimmy Vs. The Reverend is every bit as hilarious as the original series. Kimmy and Titus are the on-screen duo that just keeps on giving. Couple that with an eccentric and whacky supporting cast from characters like Lillian played by Carol Kane, and Jacqueline played by Jane Krakowski, no matter how outlandish the story gets, you can’t go wrong. We were even treated to an extended version of the iconic theme song as punishment for instinctively skipping the intro as we all do with any show on Netflix we’ve seen a hundred times, performed by Mike Britt.

As the first interactive content I’ve seen of Netflix, (as I haven’t the seen the well-received ‘Bandersnatch’ episode of ‘Black Mirror’ that I believe started it all) it has me in two minds.
On the one hand, the ending is predetermined, which, although understandable, as the cast cannot prepare for every outcome the audience might choose, kind of made the whole interactive element feel slightly redundant. Why not have fewer choices and then perhaps what I chose may have made an impact on the actual story?

That being said, with most of the world currently in lockdown, it serves a different purpose. One thing we’ve seen on social media that seems to have people reeling, is casts from shows that we covet, coming together to give fans that familiar, warm feeling, that their shows provided us with, in this time of great sadness. It’s this that makes the interactive element of Kimmy Vs. The Reverend feels truly in keeping with what people have come to expect from their entertainment. Feeling a part of the show and connecting with the characters in ways we haven’t before been able to, adds a whole new dimension to the shows appeal.

The cast cameos could’ve been filmed on a backdrop in their homes as far as we know, somewhere where social distancing, depending on the time of filming, could have been enforced. Seeing that represented in such a way is a good thing because it makes us feel connected to things we feel like we’re missing out on, adapting to this new normal. It provides the same gratification people get when they see a celebrity at home or performing some universal task that we all do because it makes you feel closer to them.
Whether or not I can imagine interactive content being as big as how we traditionally consume content is another story, but only time will tell. Especially now Netflix has said they plan on investing a lot more into interactive content. I haven’t seen Black Mirror, but I know of the show, and I can imagine that the interactive element would bode well with the show’s narrative.

As brilliant as The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is, it can be chaotic at times and having audiences make choices for the characters is something you’d almost expect to happen. I couldn’t imagine Game of Thrones when it was running doing something like this, although from what I hear about the finale fans might have been happier if they did. For me, interactive content has a time and a place. I hate making decisions, so if it weren’t for a show that I loved, I would actively avoid any situation where I had to be the catalyst behind the story progressing. I am, however interested to see how far Netflix takes this. Having practically taken over the industry, if anyone can make interactive content like this a thing of tomorrow it’s Netflix. Let’s face it, their films get nominated for Oscars, their shows are pop-culture favourites, and their documentaries are next level because they tell stories you didn’t even know you wanted to hear. For me, however, unless Tina Fey comes out with a Kimmy Vs. The Reverend Part II, it’s probably one craze I’ll miss.

Kimmy Vs. The Reverend is on Netflix now, and even if you haven’t seen the series, I still recommend it. It’s absolutely hilarious and the perfect way to fill 90 minutes of your lockdown.

Author: Sincerely, Saskia

I have a BA in Creative Writing and Journalism and an MA in Publishing. I'm a freelance contributor for VoiceMagUK, living in London, who writes about all aspects of our society from my own standpoint.

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