Despite its title and star, Jim Carrey, Showtime’s Kidding isn’t really a funny show. Yes, it has jokes, and occasional moments of flat-out hilarity. But at its core, the show is about the toll that trauma (and its repression) takes on a popular kid’s show host. Hardly a laughing matter.
The second season — which premieres with back-to-back episodes on Sunday, Feb. 9 — opens right where the first left off: Carrey’s Jeff Pickles plowing his car into the pot-smoking boyfriend (Justin Kirk) of his ex-wife Jill (Judy Greer). Still in meltdown mode following the death of his son and the subsequent collapse of his show, Jeff now finds himself forced to keep another dark secret, while the rest of his family — including Catherine Keener as his puppet-designing sister and Frank Langella as his controlling, business-minded father — grapple with their own personal issues.
The opening episode of the new season largely abandons the whimsical flourishes utilized by season one director Michel Gondry. Instead, the show keeps its focus tight on Carrey, who is outstanding in this role. In more serious films like The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Carrey is able to tap into a wounded energy that contrasts well with his chipper, eager-to-please exterior. Kidding wisely utilizes that same dichotomy, as the heartbreaking circumstances of Jeff’s personal life spill into his professional world, where it’s his job to be empathetic, wise, and neighborly.
The distance and tension between these opposing personas soaked the first season in bleak irony. Based on the season 2 premiere, it feels like creator Dave Holstein may be pulling back somewhat from that tone. Instead, it seems that Jeff may be allowed to thoughtfully explore his feelings, rather than fall prey to their capricious whims.
This is to say, we may see Mr. Pickles growing more mature now that he’s left Pickle Barrel Falls. And when Jim Carrey gets serious, he’s no joke as an actor.
Check out the season 2 premiere of Kidding Sunday, Feb. 9 at 10pm ET on Showtime. Not a subscriber? Click here to add Showtime to your Sling TV package.