Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which premieres its finale season on January 25, has its roots in abject darkness. Despite the candy colors of its version of New York City and the can-do attitude of titular heroine Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper), the streaming comedy is born out of trauma. Remember, Kimmy only ends up in the Big Apple after escaping a truly horrifying situation: getting kidnapped by a bad man (Jon Hamm) and held hostage in his underground bunker for 15 years. For that decade-and-a-half, Kimmy. suffered relentless emotional and sexual torture at the hands of Hamm’s Wayne Gary Wayne. He told the women in the bunker that the world had been destroyed in a fiery apocalypse. All together, that is a heart-wrenching nightmare.
However, Kimmy’s series finale, “Kimmy Says Bye!,” banishes all of that darkness forever. While some shows in the era of Peak TV go for bittersweet goodbyes, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock's series hands out happy endings to its leading lady and every single one of her friends. That very optimistic closing proves Kimmy Schmidt was always about taking the worst parts of our past and trying to make something beautiful out of them.
For proof, just look at how “Bye,” shook out for each of its major players.
In the season 4a's finale, “Kimmy Meets An Old Friend,” Kimmy pitches a Random House editor her children’s book The Legends of Greemulax. It’s an allegory for her experiences in Wayne’s bunker and is meant to teach young boys about the “little monster” inside of them. That monster is toxic masculinity, and it comes out when it wants something that actually belongs to someone else. The whole story is a great lesson that is immediately rejected by publishers.
So, Kimmy spends a lot of the back half of season 4 quietly trying to spread Legends. At one point, she blackmails her boss (Noah Robbins) into creating a website for the book and ensuring boys who haven’t become “creeps” yet will see an ad for it. Towards the end of “Bye,” Kimmy learns her efforts paid off.
Jacqueline White’s (Jane Krakowski) moody step-daughter Xanthippe (Dylan Gelula) reveals the book has become a massive hit among intellectual Ivy League young adults and kids alike. Kimmy’s website worked — do not try to figure out the impossible logistics of this — and her message of kindness has made her a wildly successful author.
A four-year time jump reveals Kimmy is now the proud creator of a Harry Potter World-style Greemulax park in Universal Studios. That means her uplifting book has touched, at minimum, millions of lives. In the last seconds of Kimmy, it’s official — Kimmy Schmidt really did change the world for the better.
While Kimmy’s roommate Titus (Tituss Burgess) has been chasing fame since the beginning of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, he’s also been chasing ex-boyfriend Mikey (Mike Carlsen) since their season 3 breakup. The series finale fixes both of these problem for him.
After Titus ruins his future at a very complicated Cats — this lengthy Broadway joke may be the best of the season — he is freed up play the understudy for Rafiki in the Lion King musical. The woman who is the original Rafiki, new addition Nono (Myra Lucretia Taylor), ends up riding a Citibike into traffic and dying, freeing up the role for Titus. Kimmy Schmidt will always be a dark show.
With Nono gone, Titus is able to take her role and sing the actual lyrics to the musical version of “Circle Of Life” — no joke version, no parody. It’s a stunning accomplishment. Then, once Titus is done showing off his enviable pipes, he walks outside to find Mikey waiting for him. The construction worker ran out on his wedding to see Titus’ first show and wants to be with him (he also wanted Titus to come break up the wedding).
In the flash forward, Titus is the star of a ridiculous Sliding Doors blockbuster sequel, Tokyo Doors, which is a reference to Kimmy Schmidt season 4’s earlier Sliding Doors riff. Titus and Mikey, now a married couple, walk the carpet together with their two “beautiful ethnic babies.” Brava.
Kimmy’s former employer experiences one of Kimmy Schmidt’s biggest transformations. A former lady who lunched, Jacqueline is now an agent, business woman, and legitimate friend of Kimmy’s.
Towards the end of the series finale, Jacqueline falls for the agent she is feuding with, Eli Rubin (American Horror Story alum Zachary Quinto). We also find out Eli is blind during the episode through a few “jokes” that will likely prove to be offensive. Thanks to the twist, Jacqueline, who is obsessed with being seen as beautiful, ends up with a man who can’t even see her in the first place.
But, she’s still happy. The finale shows Jacqueline and Eli on the Sliding Doors 2: Tokyo Doors red carpet duking it out over Hollywood deals before falling into a very passionate and public make out session.
Beside’s Eli’s cringey eyesight reveal, Lillian (Carol Kane) is the star of “Kimmy Says Bye's” other most offensive “joke.” In penultimate episode “Kimmy Is Rich*!,” Kimmy, Titus, and Lillian find out the city has realized their building is actually just a sideways tugboat and plans to demolish it. Upon hearing the news, Lillian decides she is going to hide in the building and blow up with it, dying. This way, she can become a ghost and haunt New York forever. It’s an extremely dark suicide story told with cheery tones.
But, Lillian’s plan is foiled since Mayor de Blasio has supposedly outlawed strong explosives for demolition projects. Apparently, he's afraid of stunts exactly like the one Lillian cooked up. She survives the blast and becomes a local spitfire hero.
In the four-year flash forward, Lillian has attained her dream. She is the new voice of the MTA and can haunt every single tourist and yuppies who deigns to use her subway system. The door will be opening on the wrong side of the train from now on — good luck, you honky sons of bitches!