See Jim Carrey’s name and you probably think slapstick comedy. But in Kidding, he defies expectations. Before you begin watching Kidding, billed as a comedy-drama starring Jim Carrey, you need to manage your expectations.
Probably best known for his silly slapstick, rubber-faced roles, Carrey nevertheless has serious acting chops when it comes to the weighty stuff: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, for example, which was the previous collaboration between him and Kidding director and executive producer Michel Gondry (Gondry won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for that movie). This time around, Gondry directs most of the Season 1 episodes of the show.
Enough of the trivia. The sad clown trope is a familiar one, and with more awareness now than ever before about mental illnesses and conditions, we’ve learned (sometimes the hardest way) that depression doesn’t look like we think it does. In Kidding, Carrey plays Jeff Piccirillo/Mr Pickles, much-loved host of the popular children’s PBS television show Puppet Time, and face of a multi-million-dollar merchandise business. It’s something of a family firm – Frank Langella plays the dad, and Catherine Keener is Jeff’s sister and the show’s head puppet maker.
On-screen, Mr Pickles has “raised” generations of young viewers with his positive sunny outlook and cute educational songs, but behind the scenes, Jeff is dealing with the worst personal tragedy imaginable: the death of one of his sons. The breakdown of his marriage is the bitter icing on top of this poisonous cake, and all we can do is helplessly watch him unravel as his sanity goes down the toilet. It doesn’t sound like fun at all when put that way, but it’s beautifully shot and brilliantly acted, and at least we’ll all learn some empathy.
Nominated for two Golden Globes – Best Television Series Musical or Comedy, Best Actor Television Series Musical or Comedy – Kidding’s second season premieres on November 3, 2019. Look out for Ariana Grande in a tiny part, as well as Mae Whitman (Arrested Development, Parenthood) and Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight).
Kidding will be streaming on Showmax express from M-Net, so new episodes will be available weekly on Fridays at 22:30.