The year is 2018. Everybody’s avuncular television icon reigned posthumously supreme in the documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Not only did it win cynics over but also under-girded the belief that saints walk can walk among us in our lifetimes. However, the movie was suffused with a nearly sycophantic air of him having the superhuman patience of that Saint and getting mad, but glossing over that. Wouldn’t he be more human to us in knowing that he punched a wall or screamed into a pillow? What if that not sick, but humanistic fantasy of a Savior existed? Enter, stage left, the 2018 series “Kidding” (Showtime), now in its second season for 2020.
“Of all the things I’ve lost- I miss my mind the most.” – Mark Twain
In the last season, Jeff Picirillo (Jim Carrey) through the gossamer scrim of his alias Mr. Pickles has shown us what a compounded year of perceived perfection (Shaved Head), remarried wife Jill (Judy Greer), dead son Phil (Cole Allen), defiant son Will (Cole Allen), overbearing showbiz father Sebastian (Frank Langella), show puppet crafting sister Deidre Perrera (Catherine Keener), her daughter Maddy (Juliet Perrera) and the myriad players that entwine with them can bring… attempted murder during Christmas. Welcome to “The Cleanest Liver In Columbus, Ohio.”
“What you think, you become.” – Gautama Buddha
We open up on the wedding of Jeff and Jill with his Holiness the Dalai Llama presiding. It’s been established that the only way one could score this is if they are a big worthy enough star, of which Jeff is. After proclaiming love can tackle any challenge, the presiding offers them a glass of champagne to celebrate. They both imbibe and smash the glass, as to bring those metaphorical pieces of glass together again.
CUT TO: The smashing of the glass of Mr. Pickles window as he runs over Peter (Justin Kirk), the husband of his wife with his PT Cruiser. Dude goes flying. Hey, dude is smashing his wife? Now he can smash him! Not believing what he’s done, he’s received a call from his Pickles Platoon fan club caroling to him. Now Jeff has a choice to stay Jeff or be Mr. Pickles. He chooses to be both at the moment, knocking on his ex-wife’s door and choosing to lie, saying Peter was on drugs and walked into the way of his 1.4 ton fist.
With a toboggan from the garage, they gourney him for a journey to the ER, all under the watchful eye of Will and his newfound girlfriend from the house next door they use for a weed joint. With music in the background, she believes his family is psychotic, prompting her to say they should see other people. This is the worst thing that Will could use now.
In a hilarious but short seen, the party outside drinking at the house witness what happens, Mr. Pickles rebukes them not to do drugs and thus starts the mad dash to the hospital, in which Jill has to shout out curt and DIRECT instructions to the hospital. This goes to a callback to three things. First, the one particular red light, which plays a part in well, you can watch the last season. Secondly, in which every second Jill is in labor, Jeff, not Pickles is trying to calm down his wife while racing to the same hospital in giving her an exercise to take her mind off of everything. Barking the commands he’s doing after he says them.
As Peter is entered into a Code Blue and he calls his sister.
As Deidre (Didi) and her now confirmed gay husband Scott (Bernard White) are giving Maddy her Christmas gifts, both of them try to explain what is going on through their divorce. Maddy is on to their game and she knows she will get double the gifts, but Didi only has one concern- her immediate family.
At the hospital, Didi tries to convince Jeff to stay mum, but it’s exactly his Will’s mum he’s trying to keep honest with.. especially about buying the house next to them that Will doesn’t know he’s using it for partying. This would be at the risk of losing both of them.
Back in the car as he’s driven to the hospital, Will is on the take. He knows that his own dad bought the house. He doesn’t like dishonesty and disrespect, but who could blame him? Parents think about their own needs and are about as fucking selfish as the kids they are raising they wanted to think they were the opposite.
Meanwhile, in the hospital, Jill is freaking the fuck out that he might die and all the stress it’s giving her having to call his family. She then apologizes to her erstwhile husband but current celebrity paragon for humanity in ruining his Christmas. A pissed off Will walks in on his parents embracing and suddenly wants this to stay. Being informed that Peter dude is in critical but stable condition, the trio decides to retire to their once unified domicile for the night.
After taking them home, Jeff tries to divulge the news he bought the house next to theirs, but he’s intercepted by Jill asking if he could stay there for the night. Though sleeping on the couch and not a kiss, but a wave good night, each small win isn’t even a small victory with his family. It’s a big win
Before he gets settled down to bed though, Jeff has got to rake up a bit of muck, attempting to pretend with being Santa Cross, though it seems Santa’s already left a gift, which another baby. This is all in his mind, however, as he’s remembering better times for this ritual they USED TO have until he’s interrupted by a text by his sister asking if Peter is dead yet. He goes into Will’s room only to see a toy of his father his strung by his neck. This prompts Will and his dad to bake cookies in the kitchen.
Jeff is onto his son and asks him if he told his now distraught beloved if he told her that he purchased a place right next to them. After his son swears, Jeff Pickles stops himself in castigating him with one of his patented lines. Instead, he allows it under the proviso that he only deploys a curse when a better one cannot be found. Will won’t tell his mother and confesses he likes seeing them more together than apart.
On Christmas morning, where a shocked Jill is finding Will and Jeff, sorry, his dad working in tandem. Will is on his side, but the worried visage is all weird about it and decides to go decamp to the next room to call about the only person that was stable in her life- Peter.
During the unwrapping and gift-giving, Jeff possibly unfairly gifts them the biggest gift of his all- something that could never be.. himself. He gives something everybody loves and wants to be around but nobody ever could live up to be and isn’t that coal?
CUT TO: The hospital wherein Peter needs a liver or at least part of one. The donor list is too long a wait (ohh, and damaging mine these days, I take that into account!), and though Peter’s sanctimonious Mormon family will try to give up theirs, they know who is truly sacrificing….
After Jeff walks out and has a flashback to Will being born and coming back home, and his cool is dropped from zero fucks to a hundred in a matter of moments, storming back in there and wants to donate. Jeff gives them the entire story, both his son and his wife. Yes, she still keeps the Picirillo name.
As he hands the holiday sweater to his mother, they said they were all huge fans of Mr. Pickles.
Interviewed by the doctor, he needs to know if he smokes (doesn’t), take recreational drugs (never) and the last time he imbibed… Which he could remember the exact date. When their marriage took flight. Astonished by the doctor, he’s put into surgery.
Bagging up his belongings on the table, he receives one last call from the Pickles Platoon singing the same song- “Hark the Herald, Angels Sing.” Mr. Pickles talks to a kid and asks him if he’s been a good boy this year… Mr. Pickles had. Had Jeff though?
Overall, I think this season will ramp it up a ton more. The thing with writing a good character is you have to put him through shit, at least when it arrives and dramedy. This is a Fred Rogers we are putting through the crap. They put him through a ton last season. To me, this isn’t his breaking point. I don’t think it would ever him to go full American Psycho but 2019 I think has been a hard year on many of us and it’s hard to keep a stiff upper lip or a positive face in the realm of things possibly going shithouse.
If Mr. Rogers were alive now, I don’t even know how he’d handle such a shit show of life. However, we do have Mr. Pickles to see us through and like Mr. Rogers, he will assure us… that we are not alone.