If you missed the inaugural season of Kidding on Showtime, now’s the chance to rectify that mistake. The 10-episode dark comedy centers on Jeff Pickles (Jim Carrey), a children’s television host and face of a multimillion-dollar brand who starts a downward spiral when tragedy strikes his family. Now, this little gem of a dark a twisted and somehow still hopeful story is available on DVD for your viewing pleasure.
Kidding is a binge-worthy tale that is hard to look away from, even when you desperately want to do so. The well-developed characters, anchored by Carrey but rounded out by phenomenal supporting players like Judy Greer, Frank Langella, Catherine Keener, and newcomers Cole Allen and Juliet Morris, are easy to love despite their myriad mistakes and misadventures. Carrey’s Jeff is both the patriarch of the family and the beating heart of the Mr. Pickles brand, though he’s often criticized by friends, family, and co-workers for being too weak-willed to properly wrangle either his personal life or his business. And since the Mr. Pickles IP is a family affair–Jeff’s father Seb (Langella) is a manipulative and ruthless executive while his sister Deirdre (Keener) is a gifted puppet maker with dreams of becoming more–the lines between the two blur and become entangled to unhealthy extremes. As if all that stress wasn’t enough, the tragic loss of a child threatens to fracture the foundation of the family and the business, possibly taking Jeff’s sanity down with them.
If you want a full review of Kidding, do yourself a favor and check out our own Vinnie Mancuso‘s take here. I have a sunnier opinion of the series than even Vinnie’s praiseworthy review, but that might just be because Kidding ticks all possible boxes for me. It’s a dark take on a light-hearted character, more Mr. Rogers than Dexter but caught somewhere in the vast gray area between the two. There are cracks in the facade of Mr. Pickles that are easy to spot throughout the season if you’re looking for them, but also easy to overlook if you don’t want to believe that some darkness lurks in the heart of such a good man. Carrey is perhaps the perfect choice for the role as he’s able to keep his iconic mania in check while delivering a touching performance that reaches down deep to connect with that innocent child in all of us. So if you’re a kid, you’re safe with Mr. Pickles; if you’re an adult who crosses him but manages to be touched by his innocence and pure idealism, he might just change you for the better … but if you get in his way, watch out.
Kidding is absolutely worth the pick-up on DVD if you’re at all interested in the premise of the work work Carrey, creator Dave Holstein (Weeds), or director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). It’s a solid dark comedy from beginning to end. Plus, it comes with some rather creative bonus features to fill out the home release.
Meet Mr. Pickles (~2 minutes)
- Jim Carrey introduces viewers to Mr. Pickles, a kids entertainer for 30-odd years who “looks at life in an idealistic way, not unlike Mr. Rogers.” But things get tough for Mr. Pickles, so we’ll see how his suffering and experience of a terrible loss change him, for better or worse.
Meet the Pickles Family (~2 minutes)
- Carrey also introduces the extended Pickles family. His father, Seb (Frank Langella) and his sister, Deirdre (Catherine Keener).
- The supporting cast joins Carrey in fleshing out the characters and showing how they fit into the show within the show, and into the dramatic arc, as well.
Shooting Shaina’s Sequence (~2 minutes)
- A side-by-side shot of the sequence from Episode 3, “Every Pain Needs a Name” in which Shaina’s living room is transformed from a dingy drug den to a spruced-up apartment fit for a party, all in one take. It’s a pretty fascinating look at the camerawork, costume changes, set and prop movement, animal handling, and more that all gets accomplished in under two minutes.
- I’d love to see a planning session or a detailed breakdown of exactly what’s going on in this scene, but this side-by-side featurette is a great addition on its own.
How Kidding Came to Be
- A wholly original featurette that uses cut-outs to show how Dave Holstein took his idea from the writing phase all the way through final production, with lots of steps in between.
- For a crudely beautiful (or beautifully crude) bit of animation, it goes by very fast at about 90 seconds, though it’s worth watching it in slow motion to get the full experience.