Tina Fey’s new Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has been a hit with fans, but the way one character was portrayed has rubbed several people the wrong way after his real-life lookalike committed suicide.
Doctor Fredric Brandt, a well-known dermatologist to the stars, reportedly took his own life soon after a character played by Martin Short made an appearance on the show, apparently modeled after Brandt’s eccentric appearance. His publicist, Jacquie Tractenberg, told the Daily Mail that he had suffered from depression for years, and that the parody made him feel “bullied”.
“He did not commit suicide because of the show … the show didn’t help…It was mean-spirited picking at the way he looked for no reason at all. But he suffered from depression before that,” Tractenberg said.
While Fey has not commented on Brandt’s death, her husband, Jeff Richmond, said that although he did not have details concerning the suicide, he felt it was “very sad”.
Fey has taken heat in the last week over Brandt’s death, with several critics raising the question of whether or not it’s crossing a line to make fun of someone’s appearance in the name of a joke.
“He was the nicest, kindest man alive, and they poke fun of him? Why? Because he looks different. Does Tina Fey teach her daughter to make fun of people? I don’t think so. As a mother, I wonder if that’s what she teaches her daughter. If someone looks different from you, do you make fun of them?” a source told People.
Meanwhile, Tina Fey has been in the headlines for other reasons this week; her name popped up on the list of guests who will send David Letterman off in style for his last 28 shows. Included on the list are Alec Baldwin, Robert Downey Jr., Will Ferrell, Michael J. Fox, Jack Hanna, Kevin James, Scarlett Johansson, and Michael Keaton, among others.