Emmy spotlight: In its last season, ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ should win its first trophy for Tituss Burgess

Netflix’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” has been a constant presence in the Emmy race since premiering in 2015, earning a combined 18 nominations, including four for Best Comedy Series. Yet Tina Fey and Robert Carlock‘s comedy about a mole woman (Ellie Kemper) making a new life for herself in New York City has yet to actually win anything from the TV academy, which is no laughing matter. Now that its final season has come and gone, this might be the last chance to finally recognize the show’s most valuable performer: Tituss Burgess.

As Titus Andromedon, Kimmy’s flamboyant, self-absorbed roommate, Burgess has been “Schmidt’s” most consistent Emmy player, earning four consecutive bids as Best Comedy Supporting Actor. He even managed to return last season, when the show’s only other bid was in the main series category.

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Why is it that Burgess keeps popping up on the Emmy ballot even when “Schmidt’s” awards prospects have dimmed? Perhaps it’s because he’s been the shows most surprising character. When we first meet him, Titus is desperate for fame, sacrificing his friendships with Kimmy, landlady Lillian (Carol Kane) and gold digger Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski) to chase the spotlight. Yet slowly but surely, he comes to realize that relationships are more important than personal gain.

That’s especially true when he meets the man of his dreams: the lovable meathead Mikey (Mike Carlson). You know Titus has truly changed when in the series finale (SPOILER ALERT) he gives up a chance to appear in “The Lion King” on Broadway in order to stop Mikey’s wedding. In that moment, you realize that Fey and Carlock have been secretly giving Burgess the most emotionally satisfying character arc in the series.

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Of course, there’s also plenty of laughs this year with Titus, especially in the episode “Kimmy Is Rich*!,” in which he discovers the shocking truth about the Broadway classic “Cats.” Or in “Kimmy Finds a Liar!” in which Jacqueline, acting as Titus’s agent, sets him up with a fake celebrity romance. Or in “Sliding Van Doors,” where we get an alternate look at what the lives of Titus and Kimmy would’ve been like had they missed pivotal moments in their past. Needless to say, Burgess has got a ton of terrific episode submissions, not least of all the finale.

Should he lose yet again, Burgess would have one more chance to compete for the role, albeit in the Movie/Mini category, since Fey and company recently announced they’d be returning for a “Kimmy Schmidt” interactive special. But the series deserves at least one trophy for providing five years of laughter and fun, and what better way to reward it than to acknowledge the actor who made us chuckle and cry in equal measure? Here’s hoping Emmy voters crack open a bottle of Pinot Noir and give Burgess a trophy!

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