One of Kimmy Schmidt's bunkermates returns for Season 2 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but unfortunately, she's fallen victim to yet another cult leader this season (and a significantly less handsome one than Jon Hamm, at that). After a brief stint working at an Apple Store in Indiana, Kimmy's co-captive Gretchen has joined the Church of Cosmetology, which Kimmy becomes determined to rescue her from. While Kimmy manages to distract Gretchen from following the Church's leader temporarily, reprogramming her brain takes a lot more effort. So what is the Church Of Cosmetology based off of on Kimmy Schmidt? While it's obviously a fictional cult, there are some reasons to believe it is a spoof of a popular real religious organization. (Romper reached out to Netflix regarding the similarities to the Church of Scientology, but did not hear back at the time of publication.)
In the second season, Kimmy gets a call from Cyndee, one of her fellow Mole Women, instructing her to check her "electronic mail" for a very important message, which prompts Kimmy to hustle right on over to the library (honestly, bless this girl). In the email is a link to a video advertising Innerwaves — a cruise ship owned and operated by the Church of Cosmetology for its members. In the video, we spot Gretchen, another of Kimmy's bunkermates, who has apparently joined the Church.
We also learn that the religion was founded by a former makeup artist named Clint Flaggstaff, who took the lessons he learned working as a Studio City cosmetologist to form a religious organization. He wrote a book called Foundations: Unlocking Your Hidden Potential, which serves as the foundational text of the following.
The Church of Cosmetology is filled with apparent references to the Church of Scientology. (Romper reached out to the Church of Scientology, but did not receive a response back at the time of publication.) Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard, was a science-fiction writer who also developed his religious organization out of his self-help book Dianetics. Later in his tenure as founder, he took to the high seas on a fleet of ships known as the Sea Organization, an elite arm of Scientology only open to a small inner circle.
Parodying Hubbard's notorious reclusiveness, the video advertising the Church of Cosmetology mentions that Flaggstaff wrote the commercial copy on a napkin and sent it out to be recorded. The commercial also promises its members "mind powers," refers to non-Cosmetologists as "lizard people" (or "lotion people," depending on how you read the napkin), and features a device that looks similar to an E-meter — the machine Scientologists claim helps them measure or "see" their mental state during sessions with auditors.
Finally, Gretchen admits that the founder of the Church of Cosmetology manages a comedy club in Mesa, Arizona, which is probably a nod to the fact that L. Ron Hubbard spent his final years in seclusion on a ranch in the California desert.
Luckily, Kimmy manages to free Gretchen from the clutches of Cosmetology, but realizes that she can't fundamentally change who Gretchen really is: a person who believes in things fiercely. So, she convinces Gretchen to start her own organization, where she can develop her own belief system, which ultimately frees her from the hold of other men's power.