I’m not in a “Kidding” Mood
Showtime recently debuted a new series called “Kidding”, starring Jim Carrey, Catherine Keener, Frank Langella, and Judy Greer, and has an equally talented staff behind the camera as well. The first episode is free to view on YouTube, and after viewing it, it is evident of how skilled everyone involved is and how produced a program “Kidding” is. Its execution is very successful, and all involved have created a very believable world for these characters to exist in.
That being said, it is highly unlikely I will ever watch another episode of this program again.
“Kidding” is a satire of sorts, in which the story’s main protagonist, Jeff (played by Jim Carrey) is a children’s television program host named Mr. Pickles, and while he is happy in front of the camera, life off set is rapidly falling apart. “Kidding” is a program with the premise of “What if Mr. Rogers wasn’t as innocent as we all thought he was and was on the verge of emotional collapse?”.
And that’s where the show absolutely loses me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good satire, and I enjoy deconstructing an icon or an institution, especially if it’s something that I’m nostalgic over. Satire and deconstruction can help us better understand why we enjoy certain things as much as we can, and looking at how we separate the art from the individuals and corporate entities that produce them. Kevin Smith’s “Dogma” does an excellent job of this, for while the film as a whole is a satire on religion, the way it satirizes major entertainment conglomerates (the Mooby Corporation is a clear satire of the Disney Corporation) is an excellent critique on how family entertainment can have such a soulless existence when led by the wrong types of people. And while I still enjoy the billion different properties that Disney produces, I can still appreciate and learn from the message that Smith & Co. was trying to share with the audience.
With that in mind, you would think that “Kidding” would be something that I would greatly enjoy, for I am not above reading or watching critical takes on individuals or organizations that I admire. I think there’s a reason that my mind simply rejects the program, however, and it is because of the individual that the program is trying to satirize. The fact that Fred Rogers is the target is what makes it unwatchable to me. And it’s not because Fred Rogers isn’t above being criticized, it’s the fact that there has been so much research and analysis of his life to see where his flaws were, and despite all the efforts, it appears that he was genuinely as good of a man off camera as he was on camera.
In this day and age, it feels as though every other day news breaks about people who you once held in high regards, whether they were people you knew personally or those you admired from afar, are outed for having done dastardly things in their personal lives. Every time a news story like this breaks, it feels like your heart takes a little bit of a hit, and you feel remorse for the fact that the memories that you had of that individual are forever tarnished. With Fred Rogers, however, he has remained pure. Nearly two decades after his passing, not a single peep has been muttered about any shenanigans that he may have been up to. In fact, the exact opposite has occurred, as stories about his selflessness and charity that he didn’t want to receive public recognition for have surfaced instead, only adding to the legend of his generosity and gentle spirit. He is the one individual that our nostalgia hasn’t been tampered with because of their pasts coming back to haunt them.
And that’s why I find it difficult to appreciate “Kidding”, for it is built on a premise that I don’t want to ever exist. I don’t want to see the flawed version of Fred Rogers, for in times when people like him seem to be so rare (especially those in the public eye), I don’t want to see what that type of individual would be like. I want Fred Rogers to remain pure, and watching a show that constantly asks, “Yeah, but what if…” is not one that I wish to watch.
I have other critiques about the show, but seeing as though it is a series and I have only watched the first episode, I would hope that my complaints would be answered in future episodes. I may check out the show later on to see if those parts of the show ended up being resolved later on in the series, but I don’t plan to tune in on a weekly basis to find out, for this is an experience that I don’t wish to endure, regardless of the quality of work that is being produced.