Well, I know which one Id choose.
Well, I know which one I'd choose.

Kimmy Schmidt's fascinating transition has entered a new phase, one which may be uniquely perfect for an already wonderful show: Interactive media. Netflix's new special, Kimmy vs The Reverend is exactly the weird time-eating quarantine content we need right now to take our minds off of everything.

And as an added bonus for Netflix, the branching choose-your-own-story format is perfect rewatch-fuel to keep moneybags, I mean subscribers, watching over and over and over.

Kimmy fans could be forgiven for feeling a bit let down by the last season or two. What started out as a magical empowering sensitive show got a little bogged-down as time went on in its own lore, with jokes that felt more stale the more topical they tried to be.

The new special gives the show a much-needed semi-reboot. Time has jumped ahead, a lot of the old storylines have been ditched, and the show is free to jump from one goofy gag to another like The Simpsons did in their best seasons, which are now old enough to rent a car.

This new incarnation has a couple of great qualities working in its favor. For one thing, the branching narrative style allows the show to use jokes that might not otherwise have found a home in a traditional single-story structure. If the writers came up with a really funny gag about Titus incorrectly thinking he knows the words to "Freebird," but the story dictates that he actually does know the words, well, that's a funny scene they just can't use. But now, that one-off joke can slip into a side-story that's outside the canon, with the timeline simply rewinding after it's told.

And thank God those jokes are actually funny, because it would be a brutal experience if they were not. When you get to the end, the show will let you know if you made all the optimal choices, and encourages you to try again if you messed up anywhere. Even the best jokes age fast, but the show's loaded with comedy that you actually want to see again, particularly in the face journeys of Titus, Jacqueline, and Lillian.

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You can find plenty of walkthrough guides online if you want a little cheat-guide, but I recommend playing through on your own. There are no boring options, and if you go too far off the rails, the show simply rewinds and sets you right. The only low point is an attempt to be topical by making fun of the Fyre Festival—a plot joke so dead on arrival I forgot it even happened until a character mentioned it two scenes later. Otherwise, you're in for a rapid-fire succession of treats, particularly when Carol Kane starts doing double-duty. My only other quibble is that cameos by Amy Sedaris and Bowen Yang are way too brief (in other words, KEEP MAKING IT GAYER, NETFLIX).

Netflix seems to be expanding its interactive offerings. In addition to this show and the much-discussed Black Mirror, they've also served up branching specials like Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout, Minecraft: Story Mode, Bear Grylls' You vs. Wild, and more. The company has made it clear that time-on-site is a crucial metric, and giving viewers an experience that they'll want to repeat several times is a fiendishly brilliant way to improve their numbers. And also, you know, make good entertainment.

Since its beginnings, the show has been about characters entering a world for which they feel unprepared but are, in fact, equipped to handle with their own inner strength and support of their friends. Jesus, do we need that feeling right now. With the real world seeming irretrievably cracked, I felt my soul restored for one more day thanks to this little jolt of unbreakability.

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