Like most of the Internet, this past couple of weeks I’ve been peeing my pants over the two big sitcoms of the moment. The first is The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, starring Ellie Kemper and available exclusively on Netflix. The second is the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, starring America’s mother-in-law and available on Fox, CNN, MSNBC, and pretty much everywhere else. (Even the UN!) What I realized is that the two protagonists have an enormous amount in common, to an eerie degree. So while Hillary may be president come 2017, in 2015 she’s basically Kimmy Schmidt.
1. She lives in a bunker.
The premise of Kimmy Schmidt is that she was kidnapped by Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne and forced to live in an underground bunker for fifteen years, all while believing that the outside world had succumbed to an apocalypse. Hillary doesn’t literally live in a bunker, of course, but she does everything remotely possible to insulate herself from the hoi polloi. She hasn’t driven a car in almost twenty years and insists upon not sharing a stage with anyone else when she speaks. She refuses to speak to the public and only speaks to the press under extremely limited circumstances. It’s more of a cocoon than even the president has around him.
2. She doesn’t understand how the world works anymore.
One of the funniest running gags on Kimmy Schmidt is the fact that she doesn’t have any understanding of how the world works anymore. A “selfie”? Huh? Hillary is operating in that very same ethos. In the 1990s, the Clintons could utter some complete nonsense with a straight face (“The president is being stalked!”) and media outlets then had to report it at face value. It was very hard for, say, the Washington Post to repeat something that the president said and then call him out on it in the same article. There was a sense of deference to the office at the very least. Now that Obama is posting selfies to BuzzFeed, that’s far less of the case. Which is why The New York Times pretty much called Hillary a liar
earlier this week.
3. She is constantly feeling paranoid.
Kimmy’s traumatic past is something she desperately wants to erase but can’t. One can’t blame her for being paranoid about being forced to return to the bunker. Hillary, on the other hand, doesn’t have this excuse. There is no question that the Republicans have targeted her, as they have Bill Clinton. But so have they come after Barack Obama. In the same vein, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, and the Koch brothers were all Democratic bogeymen at one time or another. That’s the nature of politics. Hillary seems to believe that she is uniquely targeted. That might even be true. But how many sane people wake up and declare on national morning television that their enemies are plotting against them
4. She lives under the thrall of a sexual predator.
Unprompted, Kimmy blurts out that “Yes, there was weird sex stuff in the bunker”—as close to a rape joke as I’ve seen in a sitcom. What is undeniable is that powerful, charismatic, and wealthy men are far more likely to get away with rape (or any other crime) than lower-class males. People seem to forget—or at least they want to forget—that fairly unambiguous rape accusations were made against Bill (Clinton, not Cosby). Though the truth of these allegations might be in dispute, no one any longer denies that Bill’s sexual appetites have done him and his wife’s career more harm than good.
5. Her amiable affect hides an inner insanity.
One of the reasons Kimmy Schmidt is such a superb show is Ellie Kemper’s performance. Her character radiates constant giddy enthusiasm even when it’s inappropriate. This is a mechanism that Kimmy uses to face her confusing, newfound outside world. Inside, she’s still a severely damaged kidnapping victim. Hillary is the same. She is often smiling and laughing insincerely, seeming more like a victim of the Joker than someone who is actually having fun. Even loyal Clinton confidant—and Bill’s HHS secretary—Donna Shalala confessed as much, saying that it’s as if Hillary “wakes up every morning in a state of rage.” If that’s not enough, even Jon Stewart had a segment about Hillary’s insanely inappropriate and inappropriately insane laughter
6. She’s at her funniest when her insanity slips out.
When Kimmy’s coworker put his hands over her eyes and plays “Guess who?” she flips out and screams, “I don’t like that!” He’s unaware of her backstory, but to the viewers it’s a genuine laugh due to the irony in the scene. Hillary is similarly at her most Hill-arious when she lets us see just how demented she really is. How else do you explain thinking that a reporter from NPR is basically a covert Republican operative—and to call her out as a liar on the air? Yet that’s exactly what Hillary did to Terry Gross this past summer. (Listen to the whole clip; the insanity builds to a crescendo.) So yes, I’m ready for Hillary, but more importantly I’m ready for hilarity.