Kidding series premiere review: Jim Carrey shines in a melancholy comedy

Kidding series premiereKidding is a fairly ironic name for Showtime’s new series, largely because in some ways, it’s as far from a comedy as you can get.

For reference here, let’s just go ahead and describe the basic premise of the show: This is the story of Jeff Pickles (Jim Carrey), a children’s TV legends slowly watching his life fall apart. He is still in mourning the death of his son, his wife seems to be moving on with another man, and he has so much bottled-up rage that it could come loose at almost any second.

Jeff Pickles is a man who every single person around him wants to control. He’s not allowed to do a segment about death for his show, just as he is not allowed to live back at his old house. His daughter doesn’t have a whole lot of respect for him, and his public persona requires him to be as kind and squeaky-clean as possible.

In watching all of this, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Jeff, given that he is a man who so dearly needs help and is not getting it well enough. He’s been spending so much of his life blending his public and private personas that now that they have diverted so far, he can’t really tell the difference One of them cannot be moved, and the other one he cannot adapt to. You could sense the frustration for him the moment he was told that Jeff Pickles cannot ever change. This is a character who is who he is, and that’s what makes the money.

So, can he really rebel? That’s the question that much of Kidding moving forward may be about. You do see some of that happening already in the rest of his world, whether it be at his show (where, it turns out, those guys are having sex in the costume) or with his family, as his sister Deidre tries to go to great lengths to ensure her daughter will eat her vegetables, only to realize later that they’re connected to a traumatic experience involving her father.

Kidding is a quiet show through one episode, but also a powerful and emotionally profound one. Director Michel Gondry worked with Carrey on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and you can sense their creative chemistry here. Jeff is a man with whimsy in his heart, but also a jaded sense of brokenness. The only way he can think to rebel against his current situation is to move next door to his wife Jill and have as close to his old life as he possibly can.

CarterMatt Verdict

There is no question in our mind that Kidding is unrelenting in its sadness through at least one episode, but we nonetheless do still think that there is a lot of hope for great things here moving forward. Carrey is brilliant in his role, however devastating it may be, and that is reason enough to be hyped for whatever lies ahead in the future.

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