Kidding

TV review by
Marty Brown, Common Sense Media
Kidding TV Poster Image
Jim Carrey's return to TV deals with trauma, family, kids.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Main theme is dealing with grief, and all the characters are figuring out how to cope with the death of a child. Nobody seems to have a healthy way of coping at first, but character arcs suggest they will make plenty of mistakes (drug use, casual sex, etc.) before coming to terms with death.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though they often engage in behavior that may seem destructive, the characters almost all have noble motives, care deeply for one another. Mr. Pickles is frequently altruistic, though often at the expense of his own well-being. Show makes attempts at diversity, but early representations of gay culture are extremely stereotypical (gay men are exclusively portrayed as hyper-sexualized or repressed).

Violence

There's little violence (outside of a graphic car crash).

Sex

Frequent depictions of nudity and simulated sex. 

Language

Characters use a wide array of profanity frequently: "f--k," "f---ing," "s--t," etc. The word "p---y" becomes a plot point in the first few episodes.

Consumerism

Very little consumerism is present, though some of the characters are preoccupied with consumerist ideals: Seb Piccarillo (Frank Langella) manipulates Jeff and Deirdre, his children, in order to keep Mr. Pickles' Puppet Time profitable; Jill (Judy Greer) is preoccupied with buying a new car, shoes, etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

People are shown blackout drunk. Will, a freshman in high school, frequently smokes weed. Adults casually drink and smoke.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Kidding is a show about a children's entertainer. However, it's far from kid-friendly. The show follows Jeff Pickles (Jim Carrey), star of Mr. Pickles' Puppet Time, and his family as they cope with the devastating loss of one of his twin sons in a car accident. Their coping mechanisms often involve sex or drugs, so there's frequent nudity, simulated sex, and marijuana use (primarily by Jeff's surviving teenage son, Will). Characters use a wide array of profanity frequently: "f--k," "f---ing," "s--t," etc. The show gets a lot of mileage out of the contradictions between the placid show-within-a-show (which lands somewhere between Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and Yo Gabba Gabba!) and the edgy personalities of the shows' creators, including Jeff, his father, and his sister. And while the show attempts to grapple with big issues like grief and identity, it sometimes sends mixed messages that undermine many of its own good intentions.  

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAnna.brown23 September 20, 2018

Interesting

Good story and very interesting nothing to inappropriate
Teen, 14 years old Written bymasih September 12, 2018

really good

your kids most watch it to know about life and death

What's the story?

In KIDDING, Jeff Pickles (Jim Carrey) is the star of a long-running PBS show for preschoolers called Mr. Pickles' Puppet Time, which is produced by his father (Frank Langella) and features puppetry by his sister (Catherine Keener). Jeff recently lost one of his twin sons in a car crash, which has caused him to become estranged from his wife (Judy Greer) and surviving son (Cole Allen). Having repressed his grief for months, Jeff decides to cope with his feelings by using his show to teach children about loss, trying to repair his relationships with his family, and challenging himself to adapt to his new life.

Is it any good?

There's a lot to like about the first collaboration between Jim Carrey and director Michel Gondry since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Kidding boasts an absolutely incredible cast -- which includes stars Judy Greer, Frank Langella, and Catherine Keener alongside Carrey doing some of the best acting work of his life. Gondry brings an off-kilter aesthetic not only to the show, but also to the show-within-a-show, Mr. Pickles' Puppet Time, which features a believable and dynamic cast of (felt-based) characters in its own right.

When Kidding tries to go deeper, however, things get uneven. It makes easy jokes at the expense of LGBTQ characters, depicting them as stereotypically sex-crazed, undermining its own attempts at diversity. The way the series shows coping with grief, its most pressing theme, is similarly contradictory. It feels less interested in having a conversation about trauma than it is about using trauma as a gateway to depicting edgy behavior like casual sex and drug use. That said, though Kidding can often feel directionless, the work from the cast, director, and designers is so strong that it's worth at least seeing where they're headed.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about being in a close family. Jeff Pickles works closely with his sister and father, but is attempting to reconnect with his estranged wife and son. How do Jeff's relationships with his family affect his day-to-day life? How are his relationships healthy or unhealthy? 

  • How does Jeff cope with the death of his son Phil? How does Phil's death affect the rest of the extended Pickles family? How does it change their relationships with one another? Do you think that Kidding's depiction of grief is realistic?

  • How does Jeff try to incorporate his real-life experiences into his show, Mr. Pickles' Puppet Time? What are the obstacles he faces in expressing his inner feelings through his show? How important is it to use art to express feelings?

TV details

For kids who love dark comedy

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