In Season 2 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Lillian the landlord becomes obsessed with gentrification– even if she only recently added it to her vocabulary. “I miss the old days,” she tells Titus, “When the longest word I knew was friggin’Giuliani.”
Lillian is determined to keep East Dogmouth “weird and dangerous,” but there are endless signs of gentrification in the neighborhood, from the parade of joggers pushing strollers to the opening of East Dogmouth Art Space. Not only does the performance space have the audacity to offer an “open tables DJ night,” but its owners painted over a long-standing mural of Biggie Smalls. “Now how are we supposed to remember he’s dead?” whines Lillian as she marvels at the disconcertingly unblemished roll-down gate. “Twenty-four hours and not one graffito. What a disgrace.”
But wait, there’s hope. Soon enough, a mysterious tag that seems to read F-10-5 appears on the gate– could it be the work of Tejano gang Effe-Ten-Cinco? Will there soon be a shootout with the Banana Boys? Sadly, no. “F-10-5” is actually Fios. The area is being wired in preparation for East Dogmouth Landing, the “exclusive new condominium complex” (with a sauna in every condo!) that later moves Lillian to chain herself to a bulldozer. (Is the name a nod to Greenpoint Landing?)
In the show, East Dogmouth is located in uptown Manhattan, but in actuality Unbreakable is filmed in Greenpoint, as the show’s co-creator, Tina Fey, recently reminded us. So we weren’t all that surprised when, this past weekend, we saw the telltale FIOS tag on a roll-down gate at 72 N. 15th Street, home of Associated Fabrication. Clearly, this is exactly where the the scenes were shot. And in a sign that Greenpoint-Williamsburg hasn’t been completely gentrified, someone tagged it.
Meanwhile, back in East Dogmouth… In a later episode, Lillian starts picketing The Pinched Loaf bakery, because she wants to “take this place down old-school– like back in the ’70s, when this city was a city. When we were giving Mayor Lindsay hell and Mayor Lindsay was giving Florence Henderson crabs and the crabs were a street gang that threw live crabs at people.”
The Pinched Loaf is actually the adorable Bakeri, on Freeman Street, just a block away from the house at 74 Freeman Street whose exterior serves as Titus, Kimmy, and Lillian’s home.
Speaking of which, at some point during the season Titus puts his apartment on Airbnb and rents it out to some Austin types played by Zosia Mamet (aka Shosh from Girls) and her real-life boif, Evan Jonigkeit. “What were you thinking, bringing internet people into our neighborhood?” Lillian wails at Titus. “Don’t you get it– they’re hipsters and that means gentrification.”
And hipsters they most definitely are– they’re planning to open an “artisanal fair-trade sneaker experience” called Soul Food, and they’ve got tickets to a show where “malfunctioning Chuck E. Cheese characters reenact an episode of Full House.” That bit ends with Titus pretending to be a speakeasy doorman who takes “resies” on an Etch-a-Sketch.
So does Lillian win her battle against gentrification, or does she just give up after even Pizza Rat turns his back on her? Is her pessimistic metaphor for neighborhood activism really true: “You give, and you give, and you end up cold, hungry, and handcuffed to a bulldozer”? You’ll have to watch the season finale to find out.
This much is certain: when that Fios tag disappears from N. 15th Street, you’ll know North Brooklyn’s gentrification is a fait accompli.