Kidding premieres September 9th on Showtime.
[Ed. note: Being that TV and City is on a bit of a hiatus, this article has not been edited.]
By Ariba Bhuvad
Are you a Jim Carrey fan? If so, this upcoming Showtime dramedy may be just for you. Kidding, created by Dave Holstein, directed by Michael Gendry, and starring Carrey and Catherine Keener, tells a beautiful, tragic story of a TV personality on a children’s show.
Carrey plays a personality named Jeff but better known to children of the world as Mr. Pickles. In the premiere episode, we get a glimpse into who Jeff/Mr. Pickles is and how distinct and different this one person’s life is. While he may spend his evenings recording episodes to make children smile and sing, his reality is a stark difference from the sounds of laughter and happiness.
Kidding follows Jeff’s journey both on and off screen from his PBS special Mr. Pickles’ Puppet Time, a show which he has been doing for 30 years. In the pilot, we get to see his struggles as he tries to balance being on the show with the death of one of his sons which has seemingly torn his life apart. He can’t face the reality of the situation and he can’t seem to shake it off when he gets in front of the camera. Jeff works on the show with his father, Seb (Frank Langella), who is the executive producer of his show as well as his sister Deirdre (Catherine Keener), who works as the head puppet maker.
During the hour, we also meet his estranged wife, Jill (Judy Greer), and his other son, Will (Cole Allen), who survived the car crash his twin brother died in. In this first episode, there is a lot of character development within just 33 minutes, and it’s fairly impressive. Not only do we learn more about Jeff as the episode goes on, but we see a side of each character that isn’t the most pleasant, and is in fact, quite dark. We get a glimpse into Jeff’s life as Jeff and then as Mr. Pickles and it’s rough to watch this man try to entertain millions of people on television when he is suffering from within. It’s an irony we hear quite often about comedians and Kidding encapsulates that perplexing sentiment perfectly.
Carrey shines in the pilot episode as Jeff/Mr. Pickles, and honestly, I couldn’t think of a better person to play this type of role. He does it with such ease and a particular type of pain that brings justice to his conflicted, lost character. After seeing the first episode, I can see the potential of the show, and while there may have been a few hiccups here and there, it was a pretty good way to kick off the series.
I personally look forward to seeing where the story progresses, and how Jeff/Mr. Pickles will navigate his loneliness while everyone else around seems to misunderstand him or judge him for what and who he is. It’s great that the show is honing in on the struggles Carrey’s character is having despite what he does for a living. It’s an aspect that hasn’t been explored properly, and yet something many comedians face in their daily lives.
Kidding has only released one episode, and yet I feel connected to it already.
I give Kidding a B+.