Breaking News! Jim Carrey Is Great Again!
Jim Carrey is great again! What a glorious thing to say and write. And after series of missteps, and years of career flops (particularly in his film career), the Canadian veteran is back on TV. And he’s not alone in his comeback. His longtime friend and collaborator Michel Gondry is guiding him from behind the camera, and to be frank he’s has a great support from the rest of the cast too. Judy Grier, Catherine Keneer, Frank Langella are also in Kidding, but i have to admit that this is one of the most depressing TV series I’ve seen in a looong time. And trust me. I’ve watched all 5 seasons of Six Feet Under.
But back to the man of the hour. Jim. My childhood go-to guy. The comedian’s comedian. The man that I could count on to make me laugh, is attempting to do all that again with one of the most depressing shows ever! It’s not an easy task, but hey… At least he’s trying. Wikipedia lists Kidding as a comedy-drama television series, but the comedy part should not be taken so lightly. The drama is dominant here and it’s crushing. It’s heartbreaking. It’s depressing to watch and for the life if me I couldn’t shake the feeling of melancholy hours after watching the first episode. The Kidding pilot aired on line, days before the premiere on Showtime and although it’s a good show with quality actors, it’s hella sad to watch. Just a head’s up!
Why? Well, by all means… Let me explain.
Carrey is Jeff Piccirillo in Kidding. A beloved TV personality who performs under the alias Mr. Pickles in the long running children’s television program Mr. Pickles’ Puppet Time on PBS. It’s a family affair and he’s been doing that for 30 years, but at the start of the show he’s grieving. In fact everyone in his life is grieving, but he’s the only one that is willing to talk about his grief out loud. Before the start of the show, his son Phil passed away following a car accident, and one year later after his untimely death nobody wants to be around him. Yes. Despite him being a TV staple, a franchise figure with kid merchandise to sell and a semi-celebrity that has a guest appearances on Conan, Jeff is separated from his wife Jill (who is also dealing with the death of her son with tattoos and alcohol), lives alone in a dark and gloomy apartment and his surviving son Will is channeling his dead brother’s rebellion on to him. He’s a mess. He’s festering from inside and he’s alone while doing that.
Jeff also wants to address death with his young audience but that doesn’t go well with his boss/dad Seb Piccirillo (Frank Langella), who feels that the young children watching his show, won’t be able to comprehend a complicated thing like death of a loved one. But he does it anyway, and it’s actually a marvelous act of understanding child psychology. I was pleasantly surprised. I also can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see Jim in a great role again. Depression, grief and solitude are the major themes here and although the humor part is peppered in a few lines here and there (mostly in dialogue) the melancholy is ever so present in the visual tone and pretty much everywhere else. In the actor’s voices, in their clothes, and even in their homes. But Carry’s character is something else.
Because he’s a child entertainer, he’s managed to emulate a childlike character in his everyday speech. Regardless if he’s talking to his neighbors, son, wife or his fans he’s been doing this for so long that he’s not only identifying as Mr. Pickles, he’s becoming Mr. Pickles. And that annoys the living crap out of his immediate family. But all seriousness aside, he’s a time-bomb just waiting to explode…
Kidding is a good TV show. With great performances led by the wonderful Jim Carey. Yes, it’s depressing to watch, but at the same time I’m excited to find out in which way the character’s ways of dealing with grief will lead them. Will Jeff manage to express his feelings and manage his grief in a healthy way, or…