Gem Finder: Starring Jim Carrey, Kidding is both heartbreaking and hilarious

Alexandra Plesa 9 October 2018 NEWS

Although a show about a beloved children's television presenter, Kidding is definitely not for kids.

We live in the era of Peak TV. Streaming services offer thousands of hours of quality content and everyone seems to be recommending a new series to binge. Through all the noise, it’s no wonder some marvellous titles fly under the radar. Here’s where we do our best to push them into the mainstream.

What is Kidding about?

Kidding centres on Jeff Piccirillo, also known as Mr Pickles, a popular and beloved children's television host. He has performed on Mr Pickles' Puppet Time for over 30 years, teaching and entertaining children. Jeff also became the face of a multimillion-dollar branding empire in the process. However, he is having a tough time after the death of one of his sons, which causes friction between him and the rest of his family.

Who stars in Kidding?

Jim Carrey plays the main character, Jeff or Mr Pickles. You’re probably familiar with him already, but here are some of the actor’s biggest hits: The Truman Show, Dumb and Dumber, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Mask and Liar Liar, to only name a few. Kidding marks his first regular TV role since In Living Colour, which aired in the 90s. Meanwhile, Frank Langella plays Jeff’s father and the producer of his show. You might know him from The Americans, Captain Fantastic, Frost/Nixon, Robot & Frank and more.

The main cast also includes Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich, Capote), Judy Greer (Ant-Man, Arrested Development), Cole Allen and Juliet Morris.

Where can I watch it?

Episodes drop weekly on Stan.

How many seasons does Kidding have?

The first season is currently still airing, with episodes arriving weekly on Stan. Five episodes are available so far. There’s no word about a Season 2 just yet.

Will I like Kidding?

If you’re a fan of Jim Carrey’s dramatic work, definitely. If you prefer his slapstick comedy, maybe not so much. Kidding has its fair share of funny moments, but keep in mind that this is a dramedy, with a sense of sadness reverberating throughout each scene. It’s a show about life and grief, so don’t expect to laugh out loud as you advance in your binge. Instead, the comedy often comes from the stark contrast between Jeff’s seeming innocence and the cynical world around him. As a result, the comedy is more on the bitter side than one might expect from a Jim Carrey TV show.

Kidding makes the most of Carrey’s remarkable talent

That being said, Kidding makes the most of Carrey’s remarkable talent. The actor perfectly embodies the sad clown, delivering a nuanced performance as a kids’ show host who is going through a hard time. Mr Pickles tends to always see the good in everyone, but he’s still recovering after losing one of his twin sons in a car crash. Estranged from his wife and other child, his fragile mental state is put to the test, which causes him to start acting in weird and not always kid-friendly ways. Carrey is great in the role. In fact, the entire supporting cast does a fine job, with Langella and Keener, in particular, stealing each scene they’re in. It’s an A+ ensemble.

Kidding’s obsession with death and grief is contrasted by an endearing sense of optimism. The series can get ridiculously depressing at times, but viewers aren’t left without hope. There are hints that all the bleakness will eventually make room for something good, for both the fans and Mr Pickles. As such, following Jeff trying to process the loss of his son can be rewarding, especially if you’re a fan of Jim Carrey’s dramatic work in general. It’s hard to predict where the show is going after only a few episodes, but we’re willing to bet the journey will be worthwhile.

The series also benefits from sharp writing and great directing, cleverly managing to juxtapose childhood innocence with the difficulty of adulthood. Kidding makes viewers wonder about Mr Pickles. Where does the performer end and the man begin? It’s a tough question, one that the show explores as we see glimpses of Jeff’s pain and witness his mental state suffering. Jeff is a gentle guy, but he’s not coping with his current circumstances. It will be interesting to see where the story will take him next.

Anything else I should know?

This marks Jim Carrey’s second collaboration with director and executive producer Michel Gondry. They first worked together on acclaimed flick Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

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