What if Fred Rogers’ personal and professional life didn’t pan out quite like it did before, during and after Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood? This is the implicit question posed by Kidding, the new Showtime comedy series that sees Jim Carrey and Michel Gondry working together again for the first time since 2004’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Here’s everything you need to know about Kidding
What is Kidding about?
Of course, neither Rogers nor his show are ever mentioned, but Carrey’s Jeff and his television alter ego Mr. Pickles most assuredly depend on the former for relevance. Aside from this loose connection, however, the fictional dramedy imagined by Kidding immediately explodes out into something else as Jeff’s life comes crumbling down throughout the series, which in turn threatens to destroy Mr. Pickles and everything he has accomplished on the show-within-a-show, Mr. Pickles’ Puppet Time.
The new Showtime series is not an easily digestible, traditional sitcom like The Big Bang Theory or, to a lesser degree, The Good Place. It truly lives up to the “dramedy” mantle, and shares more in comment with series like Atlanta and Weeds that, though billed as comedies, frequently flirt with the boundaries of the genre. As a result, Kidding can be hard to watch for the squeamish, but if shows like the latter are your thing, then you will most likely enjoy it.
It’s also a treat to see Carrey and Gondry working together again for the first time in 14 years. While Kidding bears many of the visual and tonal hallmarks of the French director’s past works, however, the show definitely owes its existence to creator Dave Holstein, whose previous shows include I’m Dying Up Here, The Bring and the aforementioned Weeds.
Tagging along for the ride is Sebastian (Frank Langella), the executive producer of his popular series. While Seb endeavors to support both Jeff and the show, as Kidding progresses it becomes increasingly apparent to him that the titular Mr. Pickles might bring the show down with him, should his downward spiral continue to increase in both velocity and magnitude. Meanwhile, the head puppeteer, Deirdre (Catherine Keener) tries to help Jeff as best as she can while dealing with her own problems.
At home, or at least what’s left of it, Jeff struggles to cope with a life without his estranged wife Jill (Judy Greer) and their son Will (Cole Allen). As what’s left of his family continues to unravel, largely due to his own devices – such as payments to an unknown recipient kept from Jill, and a one-night stand with a stranger – the comedy and drama of the television personality’s real and fictional lives begin to intersect more often.
Kidding release date
Kidding premieres this Sunday at 10 p.m. on Showtime.