Kidding is a rather dark take on the concept of a children's television icon, it presents this individual named Jeff Pickes (Jim Carrey) that's trying to do the right thing. He wants to teach the young viewers that have followed his show over the years about some of the important details of life with a cheery attitude. This is all while dealing with the recent tragic loss of a son, a separation from his wife and a distant second son. His life is essentially falling apart and this first season dives right into that chapter of his life. You get glimpses of what things were like, yet what we're really shown is the depressing reality of the current situation.
Not only are all these problems piling up, while he's trying to get better the important people in his life continue to tear him down. Even when moments seem brighter, an instance of continued destruction will send him crashing. It's very well done and has an almost perfect balance of everything. This is very clearly a mix of comedic and dramatic elements.
Going back to balance it's amazing how they're able to have you laughing along in one moment and then having you feel horrible the next. There's such a change in tone that works so well as each surprise arrives. One of my favorite scenes and a grand example is during their family dinner one night where it seems surreal with happiness to then come crashing down, yet at the same point it was funny. Such a clear mix of emotions, yet truly sad despite what else is going on.
You can never truly expect anything here as it will continue to delight and surprise every step of the way. Its one core narrative throughout with a tweaking of events as you see one man pushed right to the edge at almost every moment. It's particularly tragic when any great moments arrive as they often change right away. It's a pleasure to watch and a very creatively presented show with extra context that gets delivered throughout. By the end, you'll consider a rewatch just based on additional information you're given as it wraps up.
This is some of Jim Carrey's best work, going back to the style from those perfect dramatic films he's performed in the past. He provides joy through song and showmanship during the show, to then have this hidden darker side to it. It's great to see him get pushed so close to that edge and it's almost too delicate of a balance to keep this teetering setup going. That's where a good quantity of the shocking moments come from as it walks a fine line in that regard. I'm really trying to keep this spoiler free while just covering the core basics of what to expect while watching, that may be why some points are vague here. While I am focusing on the splendid performance of Carrey, the supporting cast is also excellent.
There's the just tired separated wife Jill (Judy Greer) that loves him yet is capable of telling it how it is. He has a son Will (Cole Allen) that I did find a bit annoying yet understand the situation he's stuck in. This is just his own family, the real strength of his interactions are with his sister Deirdre (Catherine Keener) and father (Frank Langella). Those two probably do the most damage on this character and have their own deeper problems that are explored. Deirdre gets really great character development later on and plays a key part in deeper meaning behind the puppets.
You have to keep in mind that with this being a long time children's show that Mr Pickles (Jim Carrey) is surrounded by his puppet friends. These act as a connection between reality and the show, they're all created by his sister. The quality of the puppets is great and that's carried throughout the presentation of the show in general. They have some really unique shots used throughout while still providing a gritty and real life.
There's something special about seeing this perfect wonderland and then being shown a small cramped room that Jeff is living in. Kidding is just filled with complexity and it ties together perfectly well throughout the short, yet structured first season. It leaves things open for what could come while still being a story that does stand alone as a stunning experience. I should also mention that sexual content is presented throughout, but in the context of what's being presented it does matter to the story and further fragmentation of the various characters.
Kidding is an amazing look at the concept of a children's television icon and twisting that in a sinister way. It really is a presentation of sorrow and continuously growing instability within an individual that tries to always present happiness to others. One that's been shielded and is now seeing the uglier side of life, or at least now fully understanding it. The first season will surprise you at every turn and bring you so close to the edge of what this great character can handle.
The cast is mostly excellent and work so well when they're paired off with one another. While Jeff is the focus here, his sister's tale is almost just as interesting as she deals with problems through a side story line. The puppets were great, the songs were excellent and I loved how it could go from charming to ever so sorrowing. I really have no idea where they'll take this further, but I certainly want to see where they go from this point.
Kidding Season 1 Review at Home with Streamed Viewing