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Netflix Just Saved Tina Fey's New Show From NBC, Before They Could Cancel It

Netflix is becoming kind of known for swooping in and rescuing cancelled series, but the situation involving Tina Fey's new comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a bit different, as this half-hour comedy about a doomsday cult escapee wasn't technically cancelled by NBC and hasn't even aired yet. But it's already found a new home and an extra season over at Netflix.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt stars Ellie Kemper as a woman who escapes a doomsday cult and sets out for a new start in New York. See Kemper above doing the classic "welcome to the big city" wide-eyed taxi cab pose. She's even wearing butterflies and flowers on her sweater, so you know she's going to fit right in.

So, how did Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt go from TBD at NBC to March 2015 at Netflix? Here's what happened - Last year NBC gave Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt a straight-to-series 13-episode order. At that time, we already knew that it was coming from 30 Rock's Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, and that The Office's adorable Ellie Kemper was lined up to star as the titular character.

That was over a year ago, though, and where's the series? It's listed on NBC's site as coming soon and that presumably means Midseason 2015, but it's possible NBC wasn't even so sure about that. Occasionally, new TV shows -- particularly comedies -- get ordered but pushed down the schedule until they're eventually cast into Spring-Summer (where TV comedy's don't tend to flourish) and cancellation is inevitable. It's possible this would've been Kimmy's fate, though NBC may have planned to air it sooner. We can only speculate.

Cut to today when Netflix announces that they're not only set to premiere Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt globally in March 2015, but they've also ordered a second season. Exactly how this deal went down obviously isn't laid out in specifics, but NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt's comments shed some light on the situation...

"When the opportunity arose for Tina Fey and Robert Carlock to premiere their new show on Netflix with a two-season commitment, we decided this was the best possible scenario to launch this captivating new series. While it was originally developed for NBC, we have a very drama-heavy mid-season schedule so we're thrilled about this Netflix opportunity; it’s an instant win-win for everyone, including Tina, Robert, and Universal Television.We’re already talking to these extraordinary creators about new development for NBC, but meanwhile, everyone here from Universal Television will do everything possible to see that Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt becomes a long-running hit on Netflix."

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt isn't just an NBC show. It's produced by Universal Television, which is owned by NBC Universal. So maybe this decision came down what's actually in the best interest of the series, which in this case might be to put it at Netflix where it's guaranteed at least two seasons. That's a promise NBC likely isn't able to make to the comedy. The Peacock hasn't been hugely successful with comedies in recent years. (Bad Judge and A to Z can attest to that.)

It's definitely an interesting scenario, particularly if the show turns out to be really good -- judging by the talent involved, odds are in its favor -- and with NBC's struggle to get their comedies to hit in recent (and ok, less recent) years, Netflix may very well be Kimmy's best option.

Kelly West
Assistant Managing Editor

Kelly joined CinemaBlend as a freelance TV news writer in 2006 and went on to serve as the site’s TV Editor before moving over to other roles on the site. At present, she’s an Assistant Managing Editor who spends much of her time brainstorming and editing feature content on the site.