Kidding Review: Shuflling between the dark and light, Jim Carrey's return is a breath of fresh air
The title of the show may suggest humor, and Jim Carrey's lead role makes it even more obvious, but don't be misled; 'Kidding' has nothing to do with comedy but with Carey's genius
Days after being confined in a room when you suddenly go out for a fresh morning walk, you realize how much you have missed the outdoors even without knowing you were. That is how you exactly feel after watching Showtime's 'Kidding,' as the legendary actor Jim Carrey returns to our TV screens since 'In Living Color.'
The title of the show may suggest humor, and Jim Carrey's lead role makes it even more obvious, but don't be misled; 'Kidding' has nothing to do with just 'kidding' around; Jim Carrey returns as a serious actor, the one that he is destined to be. Just when we thought we lost him to his immersion in anti-Trump artworks and questionable red carpet interviews, the leading bona fide actor proves that he was never lost, he was just getting better.
In the latest dramedy, where he is reunited with the director of 2004's 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,' Michel Gondry. 'Kidding,' which was actually written exclusively written for the 'Truman Show' star, Carrey plays Jeff Piccirillo, better known to the world as Jeff Pickles. He is the host on the long-running children’s series Mr. Pickles’ Puppet Time with a brand net-worth of over $112 million dollars. There can be a likened similarity between the fictional Jeff Pickles and the real-life Fred Rogers, the beloved American icon widely known for 'Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.' However, the story isn't completely based off of Mister Rogers, there's a recent documentary to prove that, but rather it's based off a question that the creators posed as to what exactly happens when someone equivalent of Mister Rogers suffers from profound grief?
The first episode titled 'Green Means Go,' begins with the death anniversary of his son, who was killed in a car accident caused by a faulty traffic light. A flashback tells us that Jeff's wife, Jill, and their twin sons were in the car and Jeff was making an appearance before a Senate subcommittee, similar to Rogers's famous 1969 Senate attendance. But the faulty traffic signal leads to the family's collision with a truck in an intersection. While Jill and Will survive, Phil dies. A year later, Jeff makes an appearance on the late-night show, and even sweetly dedicates a song to his wife, who loves the show, but doesn't see this particular episode.
The audience "awws" and we instantly feel a sense of warmth. But as the story unfolds, Jill has separated from Jeff but he is still trying to raise their surviving son Will, who has not only turned to be a troublemaker but also rebellious menace who is off the edge. Jeff's imploding personal life and Phil's demise urges Jeff to do a show on death, the topic that scares everyone and especially children.
After Jeff does his regular 'kiddish' show, 'Mr. Pickles’ Puppet Time,' talking about colors, Jeff announces; “I want to do a show about death.” The producer, Seb thinks it's a terrible idea and is scared that Jeff's psychological collapse may also mean the financial collapse of a lucrative company that's been premiering on TV for almost 30 years. The company is a family-run operation, as it turns out, Seb the manager is his father, Jeff's sister Deidre designs puppets. Seb is pretty clear that Mr. Pickles the persona and Jeff Pickles the person needs to remain separate.
We see Jeff trying to overcome his personal battles as he smiles along for the sake of children and his own child, who he knows is in the wrong company when he sees Will attempting to smoke weed. His sister is concerned but she has her own problems to deal with. Her daughter, who is hitting her puberty refuses to eat vegetables and she decides to punish her by depriving her of basic hygiene. When her daughter finally confronts her as to why she avoids eating the veggies, she confesses that vegetables had fallen on the floor, when she saw her father getting shagged by another man in the parking lot. As the case is, Deirdre's husband is a closeted homosexual.
Besides this, another assurance that 'Kidding' is no kids show, we see two men, who share a Snagglehorse costume, routinely have sex underneath it. The show is about conflicts in a perfect world, with the latter just being a make-believe world that Jeff truly believes in. His optimism shines through, he even preaches kindness on a daily basis, but deep down, he knows a sense of dark depravity lurks, and no magic can turn it around. Jim Carrey's acting has aced the character, that even when we look at Jeff Pickles, we see a wide smile overshadowed by deep hollow sadness in his eyes.
Towards the end of the 32-minute-episode, we see Jeff shaving off his pageboy hair, but unlike Britney Spear's, his attempt stops midway and he looks like he is bordering insanity while holding on to his sanity. When he finally decides to move into a neighboring house to keep a close eye on his family and his growing son, he sees his wife, Jill, getting embraced by another man in the kitchen. He breaks the sink tap, and we know his insanity is now untapped.
Cast: Jim Carrey, Judy Greer, Frank Langella, Catherine Keener, Cole Allen, Justin Kirk, Ginger Gonzaga.
Crew: Executive producers: Dave Holstein, Jim Carrey, Michel Gondry, Michael Aguilar, Roberto Benabib, Raffi Adlan, Jason Bateman, Jim Garavente.
Kidding premiers Sunday, September 9th at 10/9c on Showtime