C.H.E.R.Y./L. the Robot Is Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's Unsung Hero

Cheryl and Kimmy in the Giztoob office. (Image: Netflix)

Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has come to an end, and it’s time to celebrate its underappreciated hero.

Way back in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s first season, Titus Andromedon (Titus Burgess) and Jacqueline White (Jane Krakowski) first met one another at a dinner party that ended up turning into the scene of a murder. The victim? Yuko 3000 (voiced by Elise Mestichelli), a sentient, robotic assistant to Jacqueline’s husband, and the person she suspected him of cheating with.

The Yuko line was described as a technological innovation that would revolutionise the healthcare, service, and sex working industries, and make Jacqueline’s husband even wealthier. But over the course of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s four seasons, the robots went from punchlines to throwaway background jokes to becoming one of the show’s few groups of characters trying be completely straightforward about what was going on around them.

Like all of Kimmy Schmidt’s characters who find themselves constantly struggling in order to make ends meet in New York City, the Yukos’ gradual evolution is reflected in the number of jobs they’re depicted as having from season to season. Though the Yukos were seldom one of the series’ main priorities, you could almost always look off into the distance where the camera wasn’t focused and see them working on film sets, strolling through parks, and hanging out at bars. The specific details of the Yukos’ different lives are kept specifically vague, but as the show has developed, you come to understand that the robots are just a common part of that world.

Because Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is ending with its most recent batch of episodes, the series wraps up a number of its core characters’ seasons-in-the-making plot lines, and surprisingly, it closes out the Yukos’ narrative with a pivot that feels grounded in reality in the worst way possible.

Jacqueline killing the first Yuko. (Image: Netflix)

After flunking out of Columbia University and losing her job as a crossing guard to a Yuko, Kimmy winds up landing a new gig as the human resources head at Giztoob, a local startup that’s developing a popular cell phone application. While most of Kimmy’s stereotypical developer bro coworkers are resistant to her attempts to bond with them, she makes fast friends with C.H.E.R.Y./L. (Cybernetic Human Empathy Response Yuko/Lamp), a Yuko designed to interact with people and act as a light source when necessary.

Unlike the other Yukos, C.H.E.R.Y./L. exhibits a level of emotional intelligence that makes her feel more like a person and makes it possible for her to become involved in one of Kimmy Schmidt’s weirder subplots. Though she’s intelligent, C.H.E.R.Y./L.’s personality is best described as something like a cross between a parody of a Real Housewives superfan and Adventure Time’s B-MO. When she’s around Kimmy, C.H.E.R.Y./L. has what appears to be a serious drinking problem — she always has a glass in her hand and encourages everyone to hit the bottle hard—but when she’s alone or with others, her behaviour’s remarkably different and more even-keeled.

The thing is, it’s not really that C.H.E.R.Y./L.’s a drunk—in fact, quite the opposite. She’s a robot who can’t actually consume liquids. Rather, C.H.E.R.Y./L.’s unique personality is partially the product of a Giztoob algorithm that’s designed to help her “source code-switch.” By drawing on ill-gotten data about people through Giztoob’s application, C.H.E.R.Y./L.’s able to instantly mould her personality to best match whoever she’s interacting with.

Two YUKOs making out in one of Titus’ music videos. (Image: Netflix)

Because of Kimmy’s extensive trauma from being raised by an emotionally manipulative mother and then kidnapped and held in a bunker by a mad man, C.H.E.R.Y./L. reasons that Kimmy, as an adult, gravitates towards broken people she believes she can fix—which tracks given the group of friends she keeps.

While C.H.E.R.Y./L.’s assessment of Kimmy is on the money, it’s something that the robot only knows because of Giztoob’s deep invasion of Kimmy’s privacy.

C.H.E.R.Y./L.’s revelation to Kimmy is the one moment where she was able to be completely honest with her—and while it doesn’t exactly lead to Giztoob ever being stopped from further deploying their products, it does change Kimmy’s life. Without C.H.E.R.Y./L.’s help, Kimmy wouldn’t have had the push to fight for her first novel to be better marketed on the internet (with Giztoob’s help), and ultimately, it’s what leads to her becoming a best-selling author.

After years of trying to put the pieces of her life back together and being led astray by countless messy weirdos, Kimmy manages to find and chase her passions, and it wouldn’t really have been possible without C.H.E.R.Y./L.’s help.

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