This article contains spoilers for the entirety of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season three.
Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is reliable on a few fronts: Ellie Kemper’s Kimmy will always be the most charming kind of weirdo, Tituss Burgess will crush every line he’s given (especially if he can sing it), and a wide variety of famous people will cameo when you least expect them.
Season three — which Netflix released in full on May 20 — brings back plenty of Kimmy’s past guest stars, like Jon Hamm as Kimmy’s kidnapper, Josh Charles as a douchebag Washington Redskins heir, series co-creator Tina Fey as Kimmy’s alcoholic therapist, and Anna Camp as Deirdre Robespierre, a power bitch New York mom (and my personal queen and savior). But it also introduces a whole new slate of cameos to build out Kimmy’s happily ridiculous world.
All of them are fun, but which ones are the best? After watching the whole season, I’ve ranked my top nine below for your convenience and/or outrage.
9) Daveed Diggs as Kimmy’s college flirtation
Before Hamilton fans see this and swarm me with Twitter indignation: Diggs’s last-place ranking on this list isn’t entirely Diggs’s own fault. He does feel a little stilted without a live audience to play off of (a problem he also suffers on Black-ish), but the bigger issue is that he barely gets anything fun to do as Kimmy’s new love interest, Perry. His best moment by a long shot is when Perry finally steps into the spotlight to rap some Socrates (college!), completely sucks at it, and ends up “breakdancing” as a flopping eel. If he comes back next season, more of that silliness, please!
8) Ray Liotta as a territorial gas station owner
It’s great to see Liotta poke some fun at himself in “Kimmy Pulls Off a Heist!” (episode 10) as Paulie, the man Titus tricks so that he can use someone else’s bathroom when he has to do unspeakable things he’d dare not try in his own home. Twitchy and suspicious, Paulie maintains a vibe that’s very “last third of Goodfellas,” which feels about right. But alas, Kemper and Burgess are just too good at portraying their characters’ particular brand of chaos for Liotta to ever truly steal the spotlight, even when Paulie is holding a cat on a leash.
7) Andrea Martin as Linda P. from HR
The reason Martin isn’t higher on this list is that she only appears in one scene — but man, it’s such a good scene. In “Kimmy Googles the Internet!” (episode 11), Titus consults Linda P. and the four other Lindas of a random HR department (where else can you reliably find Lindas?) to figure out if it’s weird that the new guy he’s dating (Burgess’s fellow 30 Rock alum Michael Benjamin Washington) named his infant daughter Linda. (Consensus: yes, but maybe Titus just doesn’t like the guy that much.) Martin’s frankness is perfect for the part. It’s easy to see why, once Linda P. and her fellow Lindas give Titus the straight talk he needs, they all quickly become “let’s get margaritas” friends.
6) Laura Dern as the Reverend’s biggest fan slash fiancée
Dern is game to play big in “Kimmy Can’t Help You!” (episode three) as Wendy, a lawyer who fell in love with Kimmy’s kidnapper and is now demanding that Kimmy sign divorce papers so she can marry him instead. Her infatuation with the Reverend can be pretty cringe-inducing, but the scene where Wendy tells Titus how sad and alone she is — while donning a beaming smile as Titus’s horror only escalates — is undeniably great.
5) Rachel Dratch as two halves of the same pretentious couple
There are few comedic actors who are more reliable pinch hitters than Dratch. As if to prove it, she plays two different people in “Kimmy Googles the Internet,” namely two professorial wives who invite Kimmy to a fancy dinner party solely so she can tell all their fascinating friends about her experience as a molewoman. Lenora and Dianne (such perfect names) are both academic and insufferable in their own unique ways, a testament to Dratch’s willingness to shrug into new bizarro characters whenever the occasion calls for it.
4) Orange Is the New Black’s Litchfield Penetentiary as Gretchen’s potential new cult site
There are so many ways that a Netflix show crossover could’ve been dumb (see: this recent, unfortunate “Orange Is the New Black Mirror” attempt), but Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt earned this one.
When Kimmy’s true-believer bunkermate Gretchen (Lauren Adams) gets arrested in “Kimmy Steps on a Crack!” (episode five) after failing to start her own cult (it turns out that teenage boys don’t make great kidnapping victims), she vows to try again, but with an all-female cult instead. The next time we see her, she’s getting off the bus at Litchfield and preaching her demented gospel to Black Cindy. Really, the only thing that could make this moment better is if we ultimately get a glimpse of Gretchen recruiting followers in the background of Orange Is the New Black’s upcoming fifth season. (Please make this happen, Netflix. Do it for the Golden Age of Television!)
3) Peter Riegert as Artie “Gentrification” Goodman
Riegert didn’t have to be as wacky or over the top as some of Kimmy’s other guests to make his character Artie stand out as the best new recurring character of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season three. As Lillian’s city council rival who wants to expand his fancier grocery stores into East Dogmouth, Riegert’s casual performance is a perfect match for Carol Kane’s wide-eyed weirdness — especially once the two stop tearing each other apart and become a couple instead. When he tells Lillian at the end of the season that he has a heart condition that will probably kill him sooner rather than later, I was ... well, not just as sad as Lillian, but pretty damn close.
2) Maya Rudolph as Grammy Award winner Dionne Warwick
As far as comedic lunacy goes, though, very few people can best Maya Rudolph.
In “Kimmy Does a Puzzle!” (episode eight), when Titus finally tells Kimmy and Lillian what happened on the cruise he performed on between seasons two and three, Rudolph shows up as Dionne Warwick, the cruise star Titus revered, poisoned, and hallucinated that he ate during their adventure at sea. (It’s, uh, complicated.)
Anyway: There’s very little on this earth that makes me happier than a comedian spitting jokes through a honed voice, and Rudolph does it like it’s second nature. I had to rewind through my laughter after she told a delusional Titus that he “better have a birthmark or a library card, honey, ‘cause when we die on this thing the news is gonna say, ‘Grammy Award winner Dionne Warwick and Unknown Sneaky Fool found dead.’”
1) Beyoncé as a Titus Andromedon scorned
Okay, Beyoncé didn’t literally show up in “Kimmy’s Roommate Lemonades!” (episode two), which has Titus performing a trio of Lemonade parodies written by Fey and arranged by composer Jeff Richmond. But this way of letting Titus mourn his dissolved relationship with sweet construction worker Mikey is such a season highlight that I’m more than willing to bend the rules to praise it. (For more on how the songs came together, check out Vanity Fair’s in-depth breakdown.)
The first song is “Denial,” which mimics the bat-swinging fury of Beyoncé’s “Hold Up” so that Titus can work through the fact that Mikey might have feelings for someone else. “Whatevers” then takes on the defiance of Beyoncé’s “Sorry,” complete with a twerking Kane and the following perfect imagining of Warsan Shire’s poetry as interpreted by Titus:
What will you say at my funeral now that you’ve killed me? Here lies Titus, stepmother to my lizards, both living and dead? His heaven will be a grand piano full of baked potatoes.
Finally, Titus realizes that he might have to just let go. As Mikey’s first boyfriend ever, Titus knows he could probably keep Mikey for life if he wanted — but also, that it might be selfish of him, given that Mikey still has so much to learn about himself and his sexuality.
Which brings us to the final (untitled) song, a take on Beyoncé’s “All Night” that Burgess absolutely crushes. “All Night” is the final ballad on Lemonade, in which Beyoncé sings about letting go of the past and looking to the future. And seeing Titus make it his own is, quite simply, one of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s most emotionally resonant moments to date.
Season three of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is now streaming on Netflix.