If a forgotten band from the 70s can sue Led Zeppelin over a few opening chords of a song, I can certainly sue Tina Fey. After all, the woman stole my cult experience for her hit show — the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
Unlike the band Spirit, which took 45 years to take legal action, I’ve been preparing my case ever since viewing the first episode about Kimmy, my doppelganger. After watching all 13 episodes of Season One up to a dozen times each, I’ve documented every similarity between Kimmy Schmidt’s journey through cult recovery and my own. I believe the facts will speak for themselves. A judge will be the judge.
My first clue to the similarities between Miss Schmidt’s story and my own is a simple number. 15. That’s the number of years Kimmy spent locked in the underground bunker of a crazy preacher. Could it really be a coincidence that that is the exact number of years I lived as a deluded “devotee” locked in a “prison of belief” (thank you Lawrence Wright for the perfect cult expression)?
I moved into the ashram of two gurus (located on 200 acres in the far southwest city limits of Austin, Texas) on April 13, 1993. I learned my gurus were not only frauds, but also child molesters and moved out on April 16, 2008—exactly 15 years later, almost to the day.
Fey could have chosen any number. But she chose 15. Why? Was it some form of reverse psychology play, as in, “If I was plagiarizing Rishika’s life story, why wouldn’t I just change the number of years to 14 or 16, or whatever”? Nice try, Fey. I’ll leave that answer to the jury.
While we’re discussing the obvious, let’s take a look at the word “unbreakable.” Yes, I joined a “spiritual community” of my own free will (but do we ever really have free will, hmmmm?) and devoted myself to my “gurus’” mission. However, I never once bowed 100 percent to their doctrine. They even warned us that 99.9 percent was not good enough to achieve our spiritual goals (only available through them, naturally). Yet, I always kept a piece of me separate from them. If that’s not the definition of unbreakable, I don’t know what is.
While those two points are beyond obvious, where I really realized Fey was telling my story was in all of the little moments where Kimmy is befuddled by the modern world. Come ooooon, Tina. That is textbook Rishika’s ex-cult misadventures 101. Like the time I was shocked to learn that the majority of women are getting waxed “down there” these days. Seriously, when did that become a thing?
I’d also missed the memos on selfies, sexting, and booty calls (although I wanted the last one, badly!).
And clothing. Don’t get me started. What I was allowed to wear in the ashram was almost as horrible as the Mole Women’s attire. We could not expose our upper arms, upper legs, cleavage, or god-forbid, wear a slightly see-through skirt (which lead to a surge in midi-length slips among my female cult peers). When I escaped, the first thing I did was start wearing shorts and tank tops. It was my way of letting my freedom flag fly. This is all to say that Kimmy’s experiments with clothing are straight out of my life.
Speaking of freedom loving, Kimmy’s thrill at experiencing everything from a hands-free sink to riding on a bus mimics my own awe over the little things in that make life great. For example, I marveled at what the world look like between 6:00 and 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 and 9:00 p.m., because that’s when I was in prayer meetings—every damn day! Also, I was charmed by doggies running free in leash-free parks in Austin (so much so that I got my own—a rescue, of course).
Like Kimmy’s “candy for dinner,” I also relished my “tastes” of freedom—a glass of wine (we didn’t drink in the cult), a hamburger (we were vegetarians), and farm-to-table delicacies (ironically, we bought our food from a conglomerate).
Kimmy’s urgent desire to “just to be normal” in a world where she was anything but is ALL me. I had few friends outside of the cult, a 15-year gap in my relationship history, and a Rip-Van-Winkle-esque understanding of the modern world. Sound familiar?
Sex. That’s one area where Kimmy and I are different. While she was forced into “weird sex stuff” in the bunker (yet to be disclosed), I had no sex with my ex-gurus (something not all of the adult women can declare—just sayin’). However, Fey merely exchanged Kimmy’s ardent desire to kiss a normal man with my burning-hot desire to have sex with a good-enough partner. You see, I was completely 100 percent celibate during my 15-year spiritual deep-dive. (Yes, 15 years without sex is a form of hell, in case you’re wondering.)
What is similar to my life is that Kimmy’s attempts for her first kiss went unrequited for the first several episodes—just like my attempts to have sex and lose my re-virginity. Coincidence? As IF!
I’ll conclude my overview of my legal case with the trial of Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne. It’s almost inevitable at this point that Fey would grab this plot point from my life. Just as Kimmy was critical to the conviction of the Reverend, I was also critical to the conviction of one of my gurus, who was brought to trial by three of the underage girls he molested. Like Kimmy, we won! Where Fey diverged from the real story is that my guru escaped justice by fleeing to Mexico.
Naturally, there will be naysayers with all manner of rebuttal. And people jumping to Fey’s defense. I’m prepared, so you can stop right there. I get it. There are a ton of details nothing like my life. There’s no fabulous Titus, or funny Lillian, or insufferable, but loveable, Jacqueline. Nonetheless, there is enough that is similar. After all, it only takes a few chords, right Spirit?
Anyway, these are just the highlights. I have many more points to present in my case. And while Fey played one on TV, she’s no lawyer. So she better start working on her defense.
I’ll conclude with this: I’m looking forward to binge watching Season Two the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt over and over—all in the name of research, of course!