There is a fine line between reality and fiction, a line that the media tends to blur even more. We are bombarded every day with colors, jingles and filters, which only put us in front of an illusory world. But there are stories that reveal the tragedy behind the comedy, the shadows that hide behind the brightest spotlights. Kidding – The fantastic world of Mr. Pickles (from here you can find the review of the first season of Kidding) is a little gem that has not reached the visibility it deserved – and for this reason it went through the cancellation after two seasons – but which tells with maturity and realism the sad life of what in the eyes of the world he is the most carefree man.
As the presenter of a puppet show, Jeff Piccirillo, aka Mr. Pickes, a great Jim Carrey accompanies us on a journey through pain in its various forms. Kidding, a series created by Dave Holstein and directed by Michel Gondry, sucks the viewer into a spiral of fun, emotion and disturbance and continues to do so in a second and final season, coming to Sky Atlantic on August 31.
The Pain Behind the Smiles: The Tragic World of Mr. Pickles
Television broadcasts populated by talking puppets seem to be the emblem of happiness, lightheartedness and good education. This also represents Jeff Piccirillo (Jim Carrey) for the audience. Gentle and gentle man, Jeff – known to the world under the pseudonym of Mr. Pickes, is the symbol of good humor, an iconic figure who aims to educate the little ones with themed episodes and songs. On Jeff’s shoulders, however, weighs heavily, caused by the death of his son Phil (Cole Allen) and the recent separation from his wife Jill (Judy Greer). Still in love with her, the man cannot accept the distance between them, which has also aggravated relations with his other son, Will (also played by Cole Allen), with whom he seems unable to establish a healthy bond. .
Jeff struggles every day to keep the pieces of his life together, now shattered, and to preserve the role of perfect (and profitable) of puppet master. But in the process of elaborating a terrible mourning – which the man would also like to bring in transmission to bring the little viewers closer to the concept of loss – Jeff loses more and more of himself, as he the boundary between script and real life becomes increasingly blurred.
Both in the first and in the second season of Kidding, broadcast on Sky Atlantic starting from August 31, 2020, with the spotlights off, the presenter is unable to undress his role, controlling his need to vent. Fundamentally good and fair man, in need of giving all the children of the world the comfort he himself needs, Jeff looks elsewhere for elaboration and struggles to give the show the task of providing children with a safe place to learn how to manage. emotions. The outcomes of the failure of this personal resolution go from the comic to the melancholic, passing through the grotesque, thanks to the splendid interpretation of Carrey, which here limits its exuberance to give life to a truly credible figure.
Talking about emotions in a world that seeks perfection
If the finale of the first season led the protagonist to extreme gestures, after years and years of repressing his emotions, the opening of the second season places Jeff in the face of the evidence of their mistakes, also allowing him to delve deeper into the meaning of pain and how to deal with it.
It doesn’t matter how many puppets there are in this TV series: Kidding continues to show an incredible realism, which accompanies the vision a kind of suffering. Often surrounded by non-human characters and involved – for work or for the action of the unconscious – in musical scenarios, Jeff deals with anger, jealousy, nostalgia and pain in the only way he can, through a familiar and reassuring world. In a present increasingly focused on appearance and perfection, honest exploration of feelings – without ridiculing or demonizing them as something too painful to talk about – is more crucial than ever. As in the first season, Jeff’s story is only a starting point for the exploration of the interiority of all the characters close to him.
Sister Deirdre (Catherine Keener), struggling with a marriage that is winding down which destabilizes in particular also her daughter Maddy (well interpreted even in the most disturbing shades of her character by the very young Juliet Morris); Jeff’s son Will, who faces the consequences of his brother’s death, knows the first upsets of growth, and would like – without success – a foothold in a father, not in Mr. Pickles; Jeff’s father, Seb (Frank Langella), who struggles to understand man’s great sensitivity; his wife Jill, torn between past traumas and the desire to start a new life.
Jim Carrey is still incredibly expressive, capable of spontaneously interpreting it complex psychology of Mr. Pickles and jumping from one emotion to another in less than a second. The pain of this character, whose fragile humanity is taken to extremes since the first season, is the heart of a little-known but decidedly valid series, which in these first episodes – thanks to the excellent performances, the excellent level of writing and the good material available – seems to lay the foundations for an equally successful second season.