[Spoilers for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 3 lie ahead.]
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is growing up. In Season 3, our resilient heroine (Ellie Kemper) embarks on yet another young-adult rite of passage: college. Once again, nothing, not even the return of the oily Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm), is going to deter Kimmy from making up for lost time and living her life. Fifteen years in an underground apocalypse bunker really puts things in perspective.
But Kimmy isn't the only one making big moves in the Netflix comedy's third season. Fresh off his gig in a cruise ship production of Mahogany, which he cut short under mysterious circumstances, Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess) is back in New York and making scary life decisions about his future with Mikey (Mike Carlsen). (And channeling Beyoncé in the process.) Meanwhile, Lillian (Carol Kane) is running for city council (while evoking some of Donald Trump's rhetoric), while Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski) crusades against the Washington Redskins organization.
MTV News caught up with Kemper and Burgess last month ahead of the show's Season 3 premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, and they gave us the scoop on what's to come. Without further ado, here's what you can expect this season, from lewd puppets to Kimmy's divorce drama:
Titus drinks up Bey's LemonadeNetflix
The second episode of the season focuses on Titus and Mikey's relationship woes. When Titus catches Mikey hanging out with another man at his apartment, he invokes the healing power of Beyoncé's Lemonade. He puts his spin on three of Bey's tracks, but his homage to “Hold Up” is by far the most memorable because he takes a literal baseball bat to Mikey's passenger side window.
Though the idea came from creators and writers Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, the execution was all Burgess, who said he tried not to think of Beyoncé or the Herculean task of this homage while filming. Instead, he focused on the heartbreak at the center of the episode. “When I'm doing it, I'm in it, honey. I'm doing it. I'm not thinking about anyone else,” he said. “It was all pointed toward the heartbreak and the breakup. I had to use that as my guide. But when I saw the trailer, I got the excitement of Beyoncé all over again.”
Kimmy learns to put herself firstNetflix
Last season, Kimmy went to therapy. “I love that she went into therapy, that she started talking about what happened to her in the bunker, and that she did not turn her shoulder to it,” Kemper said. “I was so happy to see her do that introspective work last season.”
While her therapist, Andrea (Fey), may no longer be in the picture, Kimmy is still working through her trauma and learning important things about herself. For example, this season is all about self-care.
“She continues to come to terms with the fact that she can't change everything,” Kemper said. “She is still figuring out the idea that there are people making choices all around her and she's figuring out how much of herself she needs to give over to these people. That is a large part of this season.”
Kimmy ultimately has to make a tough decision: whether to share her story publicly. “She decides not to,” Kemper said. “I think that's so valuable. It sounds really trite, but you need to put on your own oxygen mask first. She needs to keep herself intact before she can be useful to others. She needs to look out for herself a bit more. She can't be a martyr. She needs to be aware that she's important.”
Kimmy doesn't make divorce easy for the ReverendNetflix
A significant part of this season will follow Kimmy's divorce from Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, the man who imprisoned her and three other women in an apocalypse bunker for over a decade. At first, Kimmy wants nothing more than to sign the divorce papers and move on. But when she sees that another impressionable woman (played by Laura Dern) has fallen under his spell, she begins to rethink her decision thanks to some sage advice from Titus, who's becoming more like Kimmy than he probably wants to admit.
“This is where we begin to see how Kimmy has rubbed off on him,” Burgess said. “Titus has matured because of Kimmy. He knows allowing this woman to marry the Reverend would be like murder — the blood would be on your hands to let this woman waltz into yet another terrible relationship. It helps humanize Titus that much more. You accept all of the frivolity of his shenanigans, but you also get this lovely emotional caretaker.”
If she does grant the Reverend a divorce, then he'll be free to marry this woman and ruin her life, and that's something Kimmy can't have on her conscience. “It's Titus telling Kimmy, what is the right thing to do? How do we help this person? Which isn't always the dynamic that they share,” Kemper said.
Everybody loves Laura DernGetty Images
Similar to the previous two seasons, Season 3 will feature some spectacular guest stars. Maya Rudolph and Burgess spend some time on a rowboat later in the season, while Kemper’s favorite guest star was Ray Liotta. “I was so scared at first because he's Ray Liotta and he's played some tough guys,” she said.
But both Kemper and Burgess share some incredible scenes with Dern in Episode 4, and they were starstruck by the Big Little Lies actress when she showed up on set. “Oh my gosh, she's so amazing,” Kemper said. “And she was so low-key and lovely.”
“Did you see her on Big Little Lies?” Burgess asked. “Oh. My. God. So fucking good! I live for her. First of all, I didn't know she was coming until I woke up and got to work that day. I've been obsessed with Enlightened. I was devastated when it was canceled. Devastated. If ever there were a reboot that needed to happen, it should be that. She's so wonderful on this.”
Dern slips into the nonsense so seamlessly that her character even buys Kimmy and Titus a dog for their tiny apartment.
Titus heads to Sesame StreetNetflix
In the Season 3 premiere, Titus tries to get a job on Sesame Street so he won't have to face Mikey without a steady gig. For the first time, Titus nails his audition. He seems like a shoo-in, but things get really awkward really fast when one of the producers and puppeteers (Bill Barretta) uses a puppet to proposition Titus with a threesome. (Yep. A threesome with the puppet.) In case you're wondering, no, Sesame Street hasn't seen the episode, and since none of the puppets are actual Sesame Street puppets, there wasn't a copyright issue.
“It's so creepy!” Burgess said. “He can't seem to catch a break. But on this one, he's absolutely right for it, and it's the creepy people that he would ultimately have to go work for.”
Kimmy goes to collegeNetflix
Although Kimmy originally considers going to a college called Robert Moses College for Whites — the “Whites” has been crossed out and replaced with “Everybody” — she ends up winning an athletic scholarship to Columbia University that doesn't even exist at that school.
“I was so happy about that,” Kemper said. “when I read that she made the decision to apply to college. And then how she gets in is so great to me. I love that. I love that she's doing it.”
“Boobs in California” might be the new “Peeno Noir”Netflix
Titus's ode to Lemonade is phenomenal, but it's not quite as catchy as “Boobs in California,” this season's own “Peeno Noir.” The song, and its accompanying music video (which features plenty of bikini-clad models), is so ridiculous. In fact, it might be Titus's most ridiculous music moment yet — and that's really saying someone on a show that already gave us a memorable ode to black penis in Season 1.
“It's so stupid,” Burgess said. “It comes back in later episodes in a profound way. It's just so ridiculous. I was sick as a dog that day. I was so sick, they would yell, ‘Cut!’ and they would have to give me a chair. I was sweating. Then they yelled, ‘Action!’ and I was like let's go, let's do it. That was a fun one.”
Kimmy and Titus have a huge fight
According to Burgess, Titus and Kimmy are “growing outward” this season. It's not that they're growing apart but rather that they're just growing as individuals. Kimmy is stubborn, while Titus can be selfish.
“This causes them to have an argument,” Burgess said. “She checks him. She checks the shit out of him. It snatches his wig real quick.”
However, these disagreements only strengthen their bond. “A lot of it is realizing that they're both flawed,” Kemper said. “Kimmy has to accept that she is not always right, and that's hard for her to do. She doesn't realize that on the surface, but living with someone and seeing how he acts and conducts himself kind of helps hold her up to her behavior and realize that she's not perfect. They do continue to help each other in that way.”