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'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' review: The final season of laughs begins

Ellie Kemper is back with more of Kimmy's

Ellie Kemper is back with more of Kimmy's unbridled enthusiasm in "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." Credit: Netflix/Eric Liebowitz

THE SERIES "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"

WHEN | WHERE Season 4 now streaming on Netflix

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) gets in trouble at work; Titus (Tituss Burgess) puts on a musical; Lillian (Carol Kane) tries novel ways of disposing of Artie's (Peter Riegert) ashes; and Jackie (Jane Krakowski) has apartment troubles. Meanwhile, Jon Hamm returns, this time as a hirsute DJ. These six episodes are only the first half of the fourth and final season; the final six will stream Jan. 25.   

MY SAY Perhaps this is well-known to Jon Hamm fans, but before he was convicted Kimmy Schmidt incarcerator Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, he was DJ Slizzard of Durnsville, Indiana, and before he was Don Draper he was Jon Hamm — as himself, on an episode of "The Dating Game."

The stuff you learn on the fourth season of "Kimmy Schmidt," which dropped May 31, is as inventive, convoluted, layered and riotous as ever. The Slizzard reveal arrives in the third episode ("Party Monster: Scratching the Surface"), produced by veteran "Colbert Report" writer Meredith Scardino, which also reintroduces Bobby Moynihan into civilization after his ill-fated fling with a CBS sitcom.

Moynihan plays one Fran Dodd, who nurses a bitter misogyny after years working as a junior salesman at Daryl's Bridal. All his customers care about, he explains, "is the ring and the dress and not one . . . will go out with me." Reminded by Kimmy that those customers were already engaged, he persists: "I also hit on their moms."

Maybe obvious, maybe not, but threaded through each of these six gems is the seismic cultural moment that stretched into a year over 2017-18: That #MeToo one. The show was always about female empowerment as experienced by an innocent (Kimmy herself), so #MeToo is inescapable this season.

It's inescapable — just not necessarily easy. There is nothing funny about #MeToo, but "Kimmy" found something: There is the episode where Kimmy herself is busted for sexual harassment, as the HR exec with nonconventional severance methods; or the one about women "nail artists" who were so interchangeable that their boss made them pick their names out of a jar every day. 

Or especially the Scardino episode: In this one DJ Fingablast — aka Doug (Derek Klena) — self-produces a Netflix-style documentary about the search for his favorite childhood DJ, who is serving hard time now. Dodd — who is also a men's rights activist when not selling wedding dresses — is trying to get Slizzard, aka Gary Wayne, released from jail.

For all sorts of reasons — not all of them sublimely ridiculous — this is the best episode of the season. Hamm, as always, is perfect, but Moynihan easily earns himself a spot in the back six next January. There's even hope for poor peevish Fran: When he learns that Kimmy refused to divorce Gary, he's deeply moved. "You stood by him!?" he says. "Hashtag: Not all women."

Hashtag: "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" has still got it.

BOTTOM LINE "Kimmy" mixes it up with #MeToo, with stellar results.

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