Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is going interactive.
Almost a year a half after Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and its quirky characters ended their run on Netflix, the cast is back with an interactive special debuting Tuesday, May 12.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend will include on-screen prompts so viewers can choose how the plot plays out, similar to Netflix’s popular Bandersnatch episode of Black Mirror.
The special is centered around lovable but dim Kimmy played again by Ellie Kemper, now a young adult novelist, and her fiance Frederick Windsor, an equally dim and charming English prince who’s 12th in line for the throne, portrayed by Daniel Radcliffe.
The interactive special also includes the shenanigans of the original cast like 30 Rock‘s Jane Krakowski who stars as former socialite Jacqueline White, John Hamm as the Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, and her kooky landlord Lillian, portrayed by comedy veteran Carol Kane.
Co-creator Tina Fey, of 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live fame, said: “I hope Kimmy’s optimism, combined with this fun new format, can provide a joyful distraction to everyone’s stressful home life right now.”
Multiple takes of the same scene were shot to accommodate viewers’ possible choices. Actor Tituss Burgess, who plays Kimmy’s over-the-top best friend Titus Andromedon, said it was “a maze…I’ve never done anything like this before, so that’s been pretty exciting in the way that it is quite challenging.”
The special is formatted to run for approximately an hour, giving viewers a few minutes to make each of the decisions on the story, but it’s format also allows people to spend hours clicking through each of the options in the on-screen prompts and watch multiple versions of the special, too.
The special was made using Branch Manager, the same tech used on the Bandersnatch episode. Branch Manager allowed writers and directors to see film cuts within the software program itself, allowing them to map out various plotlines and incorporate jokes into the choose-your-adventure format.
Netflix also used the interactive technology for Bear Grylls’ You vs. Wild in the past, but filming a comedy with it in mind is a different feat. Fey and the writing staff had to plot out not only each of the prompts available to viewers, but story arcs based on those prompts and which combinations would make the most sense.
Netflix did not immediately respond to comment about whether there could be more of its original shows done in this format but given the popularity of both Black Mirror and Kimmy, we might see more of this viewer-controlled content.
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