In the extremely funny "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," the new comedy from "30 Rock" creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, the titular heroine is rescued from a doomsday cult after 15 years of living underground and must use her irrepressibly cheery spirit to navigate contemporary New York. Pentagram designed the identity and opening titles for the show.
Played by Ellie Kemper (Erin on “The Office”), Kimmy is the living embodiment of spunk (and normally we hate spunk), a fish-out-of-water who is naïve and sheltered but blissfully well-equipped to deal with any situation, usually with hilarious results. The ebullient graphics echo Kimmy’s sunny disposition with bold typography, a bright tween-age color palette, and a generous sprinkling of fairy dust. For the opening titles, the designers collaborated with “songify” artists the Gregory Brothers, who brought their special magic to a beyond-catchy theme song, written by composer Jeff Richmond, and who also created an extended viral-video version of the song.
The designers worked closely with Fey, Carlock, Richmond and producer Jerry Kupfer on the project, getting started while the show was at NBC, where it was originally developed for the 2013 schedule. After “Kimmy” languished in scheduling limbo for a few seasons, NBC gave Fey and Carlock its blessing to take the show to Netflix.
The identity is a visual metaphor of Kimmy’s progression as she emerges into the world. Animated in the title sequence, the wordmark literally steps out and up, illustrating Kimmy’s growth as she becomes a force to be reckoned with. The word “ABLE” is singled out in “unbreakable” and emphasized through scale. The exuberant typography is set in the forthright Flama Condensed, and the palette is inspired by the color of Kimmy’s clothes, which reflect the taste of someone whose life is effectively frozen in the eighth grade.
The title sequence helps set the stage for the show, telegraphing Kimmy’s story through family photos, video clips and news footage. For a ripped-from-the-headlines feel, the team had the idea to bring in the Gregory Brothers, known for their “Songify the News” YouTube videos that auto-tune TV reports into pop earworms ("Bed Intruder Song," "Double Rainbow Song"). With “Kimmy” streaming online, the approach made double sense and brought a touch of meta in line with the show's smart sense of humor.
With Pentagram providing creative direction, the Gregorys assembled stock footage, edited the piece, and incorporated news graphics, while Pentagram added bounce and pop through typography, color and motion graphics. The comedians also created their own “Kimmy” viral video in the style of their other hits.