Sunday, September 30, 2018

REVIEW: 'Kidding' - Jeff's Magical World is Both Freeing and Destructive for His Family in 'Bye, Mom'

Showtime's Kidding - Episode 1.04 "Bye, Mom"

Jeff deals with a one-night stand. Jill learns that Jeff has been sending money to someone behind her back and confronts him.

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on this week's episode of Showtime's Kidding.

"Bye, Mom" was written by Michael Vukadinovich and directed by Jake Schreier

Jeff doesn't want to hurt anyone. That is his profound mission statement when he goes to Jill to tell her about his one-night stand with Vivian. He doesn't want to betray her because he still believes that their marriage will come back together eventually. He is now desperately trying to reinvent every aspect of his life in the hopes that no one could possibly get hurt. And yet, people are getting hurt because he's too oblivious to his own actions. He doesn't understand the world around him. He is off living in his own magical world. At times, that can be very infectious and invigorating. It's fantastic to live in that world with Jeff. It's a world where it's completely extraordinary to go over Niagara Falls with nothing but a barrel and a sheet. The show sets the audience up to be expecting nothing but tragedy from that sequence. Jeff is one bad decision away from completely snapping and destroying his entire life. Seb and Didi are already making their plans for how to replace Jeff in Puppet Time. Didi is hard at work crafting this Jeff head costume that can be used during the ice show. It's absolutely flawless as well. But even that revelation is devastating to Jeff. He doesn't want to be pushed out. He believes it's just another show of hurting people. He doesn't want to encourage any kind of bad behavior. He doesn't want to live beyond his means. He's more than comfortable just sleeping on a futon. But his apartment isn't a healthy environment for Will. Nor is the house next door to Jill's a wise investment. And yet, everything pales in comparison to Jeff actually giving a ton of money to the man who drove into the van and killed Phil. The series established that Jeff still holds so much rage towards that event. He sees that as the thing that completely destroyed his world. That was the moment where everything changed. He was fixated on the idea that green means go. That made it seem like he hadn't accepted that it was an accident caused by a malfunctioning traffic light. But here, he does accept that it was an accident and appears to have much more sympathy for the man driving the other vehicle than his own family. That's so destructive to Jill. Jeff always believed there was hope for their marriage. Jill never led him to that conclusion. It was simply his own delusional mind. And now, she needs to break it to him that he is no longer living in reality. It was fun living in his magical land for awhile. But now, she needs some genuine support to cope with the death of a son. Jeff can't provide that for her. He is incapable of seeing and understanding anything that is real. He believes that Vivian hasn't texted back because her phone is broken. He doesn't grasp that she may never want to see him again. It's so crushing in the moment when Jill is trying to get Jeff to understand just how bleak his life has become. It seems like a profound moment of self-realization too. And then, the show allows Jeff to keep the delusion going. Once again, it's meaningful and lovely to spend time in this fantasy where kids in barrels can sail over Niagara Falls and technology glitches can explain any kind of miscommunication. The show still aims to comfort Jeff at the moment. That doesn't mean he will avoid this tragic trajectory forever though. Seb may be right if Vivian's death is the thing that will finally get Jeff to break. Or maybe all of this is leading to the other members of the family relying on Jeff and his show to fix their lives because they are all broken in profound ways as well.