Season 1, Episode 1: “Green Means Go”
Directed by Michael Gondry
Written by Dave Holstein
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Pusillanimous” – click here
Meet Jeff Pickles (Jim Carrey). He’s “celebrating his 30th anniversary in children‘s television,” and he’s on Conan O’Brien’s show talking about his book Talking to Children. We see Jeff on Conan next to Danny Trejo, a wonderful juxtaposition, especially later when the latter signs a DVD for one of Jeff’s co-workers signed: “Be nice to sluts.” He seems like a slightly sheltered adult, whose whole world is slightly childish. Either way, people know him, and they love him. Even Danny knows his show pretty well.
But there’s a disparate chasm between Jeff’s persona on television and his life at home. He goes back to his apartment building, full of drunk young people playing Edward Fortyhands. More evident, he goes home alone. He watches movies by himself, then he calls home— the other one, where his ex-wife Jill (Judy Greer) lives.
We also meet Deirdre (Catherine Keener). She’s the puppet maker for Jeff’s show. She has a young daughter named Maddy (Juliet Morris). They have a typical mom-daughter relationship, arguing over eating vegetables and all those things families know too well.
There’s a darkness in Jeff’s recent past. We see glimpses of a crash and Jeff is now wanting to talk “about death.” He refuses to ignore the death of his child, Phil. The executive producer of the show, Seb (Frank Langella), isn’t so sure this is a good direction for the show, neither does he feel his star’s ready to talk about it, and certainly not so publicly. Jeff feels ignoring death’s harmful, wanting to help kids so they won’t have troubles later when death rears its head. Mostly, Seb’s a capitalist, and he worries the two personas – “Mr. Pickles,” the cash cow marketed to kids, and Jeff, a grieving father.
During the day, Jeff drops by the old house. He finds it pretty rough, from near rotten fruit to their young son Will (Cole Allen) writing nasty stuff in lipstick on the mirror. Jill’s dealing with things in her own way. She’s concerned her ex isn’t dealing with his grief appropriately. Their boy’s lashing out at mom, which dad tries talking to him about, stressing “stewardship” to other people as a way of living.
Will thinks dad’s “a pussy.” The children’s show part of Jeff has effectively shielded him from the harsher things in life, so much so he can’t manage to deal with the loss of his child in a good, healthy way. He actually sees Will at his brother’s grave, witnessing him about to have a puff of weed from a makeshift pop can bong, and he doesn’t stop, he chooses to go on. There’s nothing assertive about Jeff, in any way.
Finally, Jeff has convinced Seb to let him tape something about death. They gather a live audience of kids. Mr. Pickles begins by talking about moving houses, how sometimes things get lost along the way. He uses this as a metaphor for death. Then he tells the kids about his boy, Phil. After that he sings a sweet little song with his TV show friends.
At home, Deirdre continues punishing Maddy for not eating her vegetables. The girl’s gone days without showering. Everybody notices she stinks. Maddy won’t budge, though, and neither will her mom. Then there’s Maddy’s dad, Scott (Bernard White)— she saw him getting jerked off by another man in the driveway. This moment of truth gets the girl her first bath of the week.
Near the end of the episode we discover Seb is Jeff’s father, and Deirdre’s his sister. They’re one big family. They have regular dinner together. Makes all the dynamics even stranger as we move forward. Also, instead of going to dinner with his dad, Will’s dressed in his winter gear taking a hornet’s nest to his brother’s grave – along with a rose – so he can stop a group of kids from hanging out there.
“You‘re a minted image,” Seb tells Jeff, after letting him know he couldn’t air the recent show on death. He believes it’s too much for their audience. He tells his son: “You are not a real person.” We’re starting to see the divide between Jeff and Mr. Pickles lessen, as Jeff decides to take a new approach to life. He first shaves a streak down the middle of his long hair. He’s also moving in next to his ex, who’s got a new dude around. Should be interesting.
This was even darker and weirder than expected. Father Gore loves it! Kidding will be worth watching the whole way through, I don’t doubt it for a second. What really interests me is the injection of real Jim Carrey. He’s had a problem over the past several years with the idea of celebrity, so to see him engage with a character such as Jeff Pickles is compelling. Truth meets fiction.
“Pusillanimous” is next time.