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Is Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Based on a True Story?

May 12, 2020
3 min read

‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ is a sitcom with one of the most outlandish premises one would ever see. Yet, it manages to strike a universal chord with viewers, making almost anyone relate to the show’s characters. The show portrays its protagonist to have survived a rather tough past. Yet, her optimistic attitude proves to be infectious and makes the show one of the best feel-good productions of recent times.

‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ revolves around its titular protagonist who gets rescued from a doomsday cult. The cult leader had essentially trapped Kimmy and a few other women in a bunker, brainwashing them into believing that an apocalypse was imminent. Hence, when Kimmy gets rescued, she has to acclimatize herself to living in the real world. Not wanting to be looked at as a victim, Kimmy moves to New York City, armed with a positive mindset, ready to take on life.

Ellie Kemper stars as Kimmy. Tituss Burgess plays her roommate, while Carol Kane is also a pivotal cast member. The series is created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock.

Is Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt a True Story?

Technically, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is not based on a true story. But the show has taken inspiration from real-world extremist cults, and there have been many of them. However, the story of Kimmy Schmidt is completely fictional and not based on or adapted from a single story of a cult victim. It is, at best, an amalgamation of various actual stories.

One of the real people that ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ takes the most inspiration from is Elizabeth Smart. Smart was kidnapped when she was fourteen from her home in Salt Lake City in Utah. Her kidnappers were Brian David Mitchell and his wife, a couple who had delusions/pretensions of being prophetic. Having been actively involved in the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, Mitchell would dress up in robes, attempting to look similar to Christ and preach in Salt Lake City.

In captivity, Smart was repeatedly raped by Mitchell. She was tied to a tree with a metal cable so that she wouldn’t escape. She was forced to drink alcohol and take drugs. She was also made to accompany Mitchell on his public appearances, concealed by a headscarf. Reportedly, Ellie Kemper would read Smart’s memoir in order to base the character of Schmidt on Smart.

However, as mentioned earlier, ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ only takes inspiration from stories like those of Smart. It is not directly based on any of them. For instance, the story of Schmidt is also similar to that of Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Georgina DeJesus. The three had been kidnapped in Cleveland by a man named Ariel Castro, who locked them in his house. He would sexually abuse them regularly and feed them only a single meal a day.

Lastly, another real-life story that is more similar to Kimmy Schmidt’s is that of Jaycee Dugard. Dugard, at the age of eleven, was kidnapped by a certain Phillip Garrido and his wife. She was trapped in a soundproof shed in Garrido’s backyard and raped for years. Dugard’s captor also had some delusional beliefs, about something called “God’s Desire.”

Read More: Best Cult Documentaries on Netflix

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