Lauren Adams

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt boss explains that surprising Netflix crossover

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Warning: This article contains spoilers from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season 3 episode 5. Read at your own risk.

The fifth episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt‘s third season ended with a surprising twist: an Orange Is the New Black crossover.

In “Kimmy Steps on a Crack!,” the FBI asks Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) to help them diffuse a situation involving her former bunker-mate Gretchen (Lauren Adams), who started a cult comprised of kidnapped young boys and who is now threatening to blow up the cult’s compound. Kimmy’s able to talk Gretchen down, and she convinces her to accept the consequences of her actions by going to prison. And not just any prison! (Read our full recap of the episode here.)

In a very FriendsMad About You-esque twist, the half-hour ends with Gretchen being sent to Orange Is the New Black‘s Litchfield Penitentiary, where she meets Black Cindy, a character on that show played by Adrienne C. Moore. Which means Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Orange Is the New Black are actually in the same universe!

“We thought it was funny to suggest we lived in the same universe,” Kimmy Schmidt co-creator Robert Carlock told EW when we hopped on the phone with him for a quick chat about how this crossover came to be, what input OITNB creator Jenji Kohan had, and whether or not a line from the scene was an intentional nod to another Netflix series. Read on below to find out more about this fun aside!

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where did the idea for this crossover come from? Who pitched in the writers’ room?
ROBERT CARLOCK: Well, once we went down that road with that story, which we wanted to tell, we knew that Gretchen either had to go to jail or get blown up. We didn’t want to blow up Gretchen or any of the people around her, so we knew she was going to jail. I think [the OITNB scene] was just half a joke pitch and half we felt we could somehow save money, and that turned out not to be true. And, it turned into purely a joke that I think was Tina [Fey]’s. We thought it was funny to suggest we lived in that same world as Orange Is the New Black, and of course, we’re always looking for Netflix synergies. That’s our main thing that we do day-to-day. We’re gonna have a lot of stuff with Fuller House coming up — any opportunity we can to crossover with other Netflix shows.

We emailed Jenji Kohan just asking if it was okay that we said she was going to that prison, and then I think we added the idea of, “Oh, it’d be nice to have one of their actors to make it really real.” And, we asked if that was okay. Jenji was very open to us just trampling all over the world she created, which we were very appreciative of. At one point, the line that Black Cindy has‚ which is about stabbing her boss at Sea World, was phrased where it made it seem like that was the reason she was at that prison, which pulled a little thread. Jenji did ask us to make that something that happened…