Tituss Burgess On 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' 'Lemonade'
Season 3 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt hit Netflix last week, and while the entire series is filled to the brim with brilliantly topical, hilariously hard-hitting pop culture references, the standout moment of this season is certainly Titus' homage to Beyoncé's Lemonade.
I had the chance to sit down with Tituss Burgess and Ellie Kemper, who play Titus Andromedon and Kimmy Schmidt, prior to the release of the third season.
Unsurprisingly, their real-life relationship is not a far cry from the one we see on screen -- upon entering the hotel room where our interview took place, the pair did a little dance and greeted each other with a genuine level of warmth only true friends share.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which is written by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock (the dream team who brought us 30 Rock), follows the story of the ever-optimistic Kimmy who is reacclimating to life in New York City after being kept in a bunker by a crazed reverend for 15 years.
Also in the star-studded cast are John Hamm, Jane Krakowski, and Carol Kane, with incredible cameos from Tina Fey, Lisa Kudrow, Fred Armisen, Maya Rudolph, Laura Dern and more.
This season, the audience was introduced to a more intimate and emotional side of Tituss Burgess' character. Titus goes through the ups and downs of his relationship with Mikey, who we met in Season 2 and is played by Mike Carlsen, and ultimately ends up expressing his frustrated feelings toward him by Lemonade-ing.
Speaking on how he interprets his character's Lemonade sequences, and what they reveal about Titus Andromedon, Tituss told me,
I don't want to say they're parodied, I like to say that they're borrowed because parodied… undermines why it's there and [this is] how he (Titus) exercises his demons, but it is a testament to just how deep a well of emotion there is, or capacity for emotion, there is for Titus to fill... on a very surface watching level he's pixie dust and yellows and brights and you could write it off as being just flashy for the sake of being flashy, but this certainly offers a look into how Kimmy has changed Titus, because it forced him to start to care about someone else, i.e. Mikey, enough that it hurt him enough that he would go through such an extreme display of emotion, a la 'Lemonade,' to show the profound effect it had on him. And of course, as Tituss Burgess, I'm obsessed with Beyoncé so it was lovely to be able to tip the hat and say 'We love you,' and Tina's a Beyoncé fan as well. But inside the episode, it has a huge dramatic purpose and the lyrics are both funny and sad simultaneously. I wasn't shocked, they don't shock me, I'm used to them being brilliant -- but I was pleased they were able to take that and spread it out and help Tituss deal with Mikey in such a real way using a huge pop culture reference.
The show's pop culture references are what set it apart from all other shows. They are laugh-out-loud funny, but you can't laugh too hard or you'll miss whichever punchy one-liner comes next.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix.