UPDATE: While actor Mike Carlsen does play both characters, EW can confirm that his appearance in both 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is only a coincidence, and, sadly, not proof that Tina Fey and Robert Carlock are building to a Kimmy Schmidt/Liz Lemon team-up.
ORIGINAL STORY: If you’ve started watching—or, you know, finished watching—Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix, it’s difficult to deny how similar the show feels to Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s last show, 30 Rock. But what if something connected the two more than their creators and tone?
For eagle-eyed fans of both Fey and Carlock shows, one minor character helps to lend credence to the idea that Kimmy Schmidt and Liz Lemon could very well run into each other one day.
In episode 5 of Kimmy Schmidt, “Kimmy Kisses a Boy,” Kimmy runs into a catcalling construction worker (pictured above) who is thrown when she compliments his hat. She alters his worldview so much that he realizes he actually treats women poorly because he envies them for being with men. He later appears in the episode and asks Titus out on a date, who shuts him down and asks him to try again in 10 years.
He’s a relatively minor character, but a similar construction worker catcalls Liz Lemon in the 30 Rock season 5 episode “When It Rains It Pours.”
Sure enough, the character is also played by the same actor—Mike Carlsen (though in Kimmy Schmidt, he’s upgraded from an unnamed construction worker to “Mikey”). Carlsen has played a number of similar roles on other shows that have filmed in New York, including Person of Interest, Pan Am, and Law & Order.
While Mikey is never explicitly stated to be the same construction worker in both shows, his catcalling ways—and his self-discovery as a gay man—gives the character somewhat of a character arc from his debut in 30 Rock to his appearance in Kimmy Schmidt. And accepting that he is the same guy, however tenuous a connection it is, suggests Kimmy and Liz walk the same version of Manhattan’s streets.
When EW spoke to Fey and Carlock, the two said there were no plans yet to create a 30 Rock cinematic universe, but if we’re all willing to ascribe to the Tommy Westphall universe theory, Mikey may be the first of many Easter eggs to unite the two shows.
Now here’s hoping season 2 includes a subplot where Titus begins working at one of Donald Jordan’s themed restaurants.
A represenatative from Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the character.
Thanks to EW reader Michael Domanico for the tip.