The showtime TV series ‘Kidding” redefines the word as a whole

Camryn Teder, Co-Writing Editor

Unbeknownst to the child audience funding his multimillion dollar series, children’s show star Jeff Pickles has spent the last few months silently suffering, and he can’t take much more. His son died a year ago, and he’s in the midst of a family crisis. With the bleak reality of his life blurring together with the bubble world of his show, Mr. Pickles’ happy little facade is just beginning to crack.

As you can probably tell, the word Kidding takes on a whole new meaning in this new television series starring Jim Carrey as Jeff Pickles.

When I first saw the trailer for this new show, I watched it probably a thousand times. I don’t know who made that trailer, but whoever it is, you did good. You did very good.
After wasting hours of my life replaying it and crying, it’s safe to say I began to have high expectations for this show. Maybe a little too high.

The first episode is titled “Green Means Go” and premiered on Showtime. The comedy-drama, with an emphasis on the drama, did not exactly live up to my expectations.

From the very first shot of the show, I instantly was met with a sort of Mr. Rogers vibe, probably because Mr. Pickles, the show’s main character, is a tortured version of Rogers. Mr. Pickles’ feud with show producer Sebastian serves the basis of the first episode. Mr. Pickles wants to do a show about death, Sebastian, played by Frank Langella, wants a show about colors. As he puts it, “Jeff needs to heal. Mr. Pickles is fine.”
Judy Greer plays ex-wife Jill. Pickles seems to disapprove of every choice the grieving mother makes, from her new tattoo to the way she deals with their other son (Will).
Mr. Pickles, in the midst of an emotional breakdown, shaves his head and buys the house next to his ex-wife.

The show’s director Michel Gondry, who has worked with Carrey previously on project Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, has always had a more artistic angle to his projects. Kidding is no different, with each shot emphasising the raw emotion on the character’s faces. Gondry really likes the shots that focus in on more individual feelings rather than explicit action. His particular directing style makes the scenes seem more personal and authentic by emphasizing human emotion rather than unrealistic action. If you’re looking for a thrill, Kidding is probably not for you.
One aspect of the show that I found both intriguing and at times annoying is the sheer number of symbols and subliminal messages hidden in each episode. I initially loved the detail and layers that give life to the show, but at times I found it hard to keep up. In one shot, we see a house-shaped mailbox smashed to bits with a baseball bat by an angry looking Jeff Pickles. This says a lot about the imminent breakdown of Jeff’s life, but it is
only about four seconds long.

In short, the cast is incredible, the director is phenomenal, but it just doesn’t work. I WANT IT TO WORK SO BADLY. But so far, it feels like I’m watching the rough cut. The emotion and artistic value is there, but it lacks fluidity. This show could be great but it’s made so much less meaningful with choppy screenwriting and strange and unnecessary symbols and shots. The commercial honestly made me cry, but the show itself was hard to understand and abrupt. It didn’t give me time to comprehend Mr. Pickles’ pain. It didn’t invoke the same emotion that it promised. Of course, these are just the first episodes, almost like reading the first chapter of a book. I hope these last few episodes can redeem such a promising looking show.