If you haven’t been watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, you should probably cancel your plans for the next few evenings and enter Netflix binge-watching land as quickly as possible.
The smart, hilarious show stars Ellie Kemper as a young woman who moves to New York City after being rescued from an underground bunker she was held in for 15 years by a cult-starting preacher.
It takes the “small-town girl lost in the big city” trope to a new, funnier level, as she struggles to make sense of the modern culture (in NYC, no less) that sprung up while she was completely cut off from the world—from iPhones to, yes, SoulCycle.
Kimmy goes to a “SpiritCycle” class with her rich, Upper East Side boss, Jacqueline (played by Jane Krakowski), who is under the spell of her instructor, spin guru Tristophé (played by comedian Nick Kroll). She becomes addicted, naturally, and the episode goes on to carefully tackle several aspects of Soul, ahem, SpiritCycle culture perfectly.
1. Instructor as god. Fitness instructors have been turning into celebs for a while now, and the devotion they spark among followers is pretty incredible. Kimmy and Jacqueline worship Tristophé, feed on the gibberish he spouts as motivation, and compete for his approval. Until it’s revealed that he’s really putting on a show. (We won’t totally ruin it if you haven’t watched yet!)
2. The front row. The New York Times didn’t see the humor in the fact that riders compete to be “called” to ride on bikes at the front of the room, but Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s writers did. Kimmy steals Jacqueline’s front row bike, and Jacqueline later drinks the sweat from Kimmy’s ponytail in deference. “I can taste your power!” Jacqueline yells, on her knees.
3. Narcissistic philosophy. Kimmy becomes obsessed with her “mindbeach,” the stress-free place Tristophé says she can get to on a spin bike to shut out all of the hard, messy things in her life and focus solely on “my me” and “following her bliss.”
At the end, everything falls apart when Kimmy realizes she’s fallen into yet another mind-controlling cult, and the wizard is hilariously revealed behind a curtain. Of sorts.
SoulCycle’s PR department told AdWeek they’re laughing along with the crowd—after all, Broad City’s parody and Max Greenfield in “Schmidt” character from New Girl have also riffed on the workout’s cult status. And riders seem to be taking it in stride, too.
In fact, we’re kind of expecting to see MINDBEACH tanks in a SoulCycle class very soon… —Lisa Elaine Held
What do you think of the parody? Did it ring true? Did it go too far? What was your favorite moment? Tell us, in the Comments, below.
(Photo: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)