Ellie Kemper’s infectiously optimistic character Kimmy Schmidt made her very welcomed return Friday evening at the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season 3 world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. The Netflix sitcom’s third season picks up with Kimmy trying to move forward with her life by attending college and turning to Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski) for help with her divorce from the Reverend (Jon Hamm). Meanwhile, Titus (Tituss Burgess) returns from his cruise and goes full Lemonade on his construction beau Mikey.
After the debut of the first two episodes of the season, Morning Joe‘s Willie Geist hosted an enlightening panel with Kemper, Burgess, Krakowski, Carol Kane, and executive producers Robert Carlock and Tina Fey. Here are the five things we learned about the new season.
1. Daveed Diggs plays Kimmy’s love interest
Carlock revealed that the Hamilton star was cast as Kimmy’s love interest in the third season in a part that was written for him. “It was very much from the point of view, ‘Daveed likes the show and would like to do it, and well that would be a fun person to put Ellie with,'” said Carlock while discussing this season’s impressive list of guest stars. “And so there’s a little romantic arc that she has with him. He’s obviously amazing.”
2. Maya Rudolph hits the seas with Burgess this season
Fey’s former SNL castmate is also set to guest-star this season in a role that was specifically written for her. “Later this season, there’s a story that is mostly Tituss alone on a rowboat with Maya Rudolph,” said Fey, who witnessed them break several times while Rudolph stared Burgess down. “Those two, I thought, really kind of gave each other the giggles.”
Burgess added, “She would just not let up. Even after we’d already yelled cut, this diva was still going.”
3. Jack McBrayer’s 30 Rock character Kenneth almost cameoed in season 3
McBrayer happened to be in New York City when the show was shooting at Rockefeller Center. So, Fey invited him over for a quick cameo as his 30 Rock character. “I said, ‘Would you want to come down and just put on your weird ‘70s suit like you’re still the president of NBC and just walk through the shot?'” she said. “He had, like, a 30-minute break and he came down and got all suited up, and we just didn’t get it in time. He just had to leave.”
Both Fey and Carlock, however, promised they would keep trying to make this cameo happen. It’s something they’ve had in mind since they shot the pilot.
4. The 2016 presidential election doesn’t figure into the season for a good reason
In the third season premiere, President Donald Trump receives a hilarious shout-out when Jacqueline reveals she briefly attended Trump University and yells “Go Pricks!” However, one-off jokes like that are the extent to which the show will engage with Trump and Hillary Clinton because they didn’t believe they could effectively incorporate the election into the season.
“One unfortunate thing is that we shot almost all of the season before the election,” said Carlock. “We declared kind of early to ourselves in the writers’ room that we didn’t feel like we could deal with it. We didn’t want to take a guess because we would’ve been wrong.”
“It’s too bad because it was an election between a woman and a bully,” he continued.
Fey added, “It would’ve been a great story for Kimmy, but the timing of it — her voting for the first time and all of this stuff — just didn’t line up.”
Thus, we are left to just imagine what could’ve been.
5. Titus’ growth continues to be stunted, while Jacqueline clashes with the NFL
Before opening up the floor to audience questions, Geist asked Fey to give the audience a few more teases about the season. Here’s what she said: “Lillian finds new love after Robert Durst (Fred Armisen), which is exciting. Jacqueline has to continue to fend for herself and she takes on the Washington Redskins Organization. Titus continues to try and fail to learn how to be a decent person. He may have his identity sort of co-opted and put into a cartoon bladder in a medicine commercial.”
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt returns May 19 on Netflix.