As former Saturday Night Live stars, hosts, head writers, and fake news anchors, Seth Meyers and Tina Fey, not surprisingly, have a lot in common. Apart from adding “stuck at home going publicly nuts so this pandemic doesn’t kill them and their families” to that list, you can now add that they both thought the recent Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Choose Your Own Adventure interactive special was a pretty great idea. (Technically, as Fey reported, she can’t call it Choose Your Own Adventure, with Daniel Radcliffe’s far-removed British royal on the special calling it a “pick your own journey” adventure.) Telling Meyers that, as a writer, the new Netflix Bandersnatch technology happily offered her and her writers an opportunity to cram in every joke the average Kimmy Schmidt episode ordinarily has to trim, she also explained how she gleefully blew off Netflix execs’ advice to keep things simple for the branching narrative format. There are, in fact, three parallel storylines in the genuinely fun and funny special, which, coupled with the multiple story options along the way, exponentially multiplies to around—checking calculations—an infinite number of outcomes. (In her review, our own Gwen Ihnat laments that she still hasn’t found the trailer-teased robot uprising ending.)
With all that fun and all those dead ends to take in (the screen helpfully keeps track of your choices so you can try again), some people might find it expedient to hit Netflix’s patented and infuriating “skip intro” button in order to get to the meat of the story. (Kimmy finds out that her evilly dimwitted former captor, Jon Hamm’s The Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, may have a second bunker full of kidnapped women somewhere.) But since both Fey and Meyers agree that the show’s propulsive intro music is “one of the greatest TV theme songs of all time,” and, more importantly for Fey, was written by her husband and Kimmy Schmidt executive producer Jeff Richmond, jumping ahead carries its own bad decision punishment. (It’s not getting killed at the toaster store bad, but Fey does threaten “something slightly punitive” should you disregard all Jeff’s hard work.)
Meyers and Fey both also share a deep and abiding love (and perhaps a lifetime of work-related stress dreams) about 30 Rockefeller Plaza, home to their former and perhaps one day continuing workplaces. Fey was effusive in saying how “excited and privileged” she was to get to, you know, actually go there in her role as host of the Rise Up New York! pandemic telethon, an all-star event that wound up raising over $100 million for New Yorkers affected by all this multifaceted awfulness. That should (might?) make up for the awesome-sounding and now cancelled plans for Fey’s upcoming 50th birthday party, which Fey ruefully explained would have been a long, “no kids, no spouses” Arizona spa weekend with her best pals and Wine Country costars Amy Poehler, Emily Spivey, Paula Pell, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer, and Rachel Dratch. At least she noted that her young daughter dipped into her life savings to give her a Mother’s Day gift of “$53 cash.” “That’s what I was worth?,” Fey speculated as to the odd number. She’s still keeping it, though.