“The Acceptance Speech” explores the line between fantasy and reality as Jeff is up for a lifetime achievement award and Deirdre has a medical emergency.
This recap of Kidding Season 2, Episode 7, “The Acceptance Speech”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
There is no other show on television quite like Kidding, and if that wasn’t obvious enough, the phenomenal — and phenomenally weird — “The Acceptance Speech” has you covered. It opens with a TV spot in 1993 for Best-O’s cereal, a high-fiber breakfast choice that makes you say “Oh” in more ways than one — largely because each box contains a vibrating plastic pickle toy that housewives begin masturbating with.
Best-O’s feature on the timeline of Jeff Pickles’ (Jim Carrey) career, for which he’s receiving a lifetime achievement award at a ceremony that it’s looking increasingly like he won’t even be attending himself. Deirdre (Catherine Keener) will, though, providing she can remove the vibrating pickle from her body, which she acquired by bidding over-the-odds on eBay. Jeff is AWOL in Kidding Season 2, Episode 7 following the death of Filipino Pickles and his disastrous burial at sea, and Maddy (Juliet Morris) thinks he might have finally killed himself. “Maddy,” chastises Seb (Frank Langella), “that is insanely inappropriate. Go play with your ax.”
As it turns out Jeff hasn’t killed himself — he’s volunteering at a treatment center for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s where Tyler, the Creator practices “nostalgia therapy”. The facility is time-locked to the 1960s; a period that doesn’t exist anymore which most of the residents would like to return to. Jeff plays a bartender who served as a sniper in the Korean War, but he really plays himself, a man traumatized by ceaseless harassment who finds in this place an excuse to perpetuate a facade without consequence; it’s his own life in microcosm.
This fanciful play-acting intersects with the misadventures of Seb, who experiences a momentary inability to speak and is told by a doctor that he not only experienced a minor stroke but is due a major one. He begins to see a woman who looks very much like his ex-wife everywhere, eventually taking her out for dinner, while Jeff meets a woman — the same one — who he refers to as “mother” while he waits with her at a fake bus stop for a ride out of town that’ll never arrive. There’s a deep undercurrent of sadness in Kidding Season 2, Episode 7, the kind that always burbles up at the intersection between fantasy and reality, especially when what’s unattainable is what someone desires most.
Even the ludicrous B-plot of “The Acceptance Speech”, in which Deirdre nags Jill (Judy Greer) to come to the ceremony and help remove the plastic pickle from her vagina, builds to a powerful moment of honesty in which Jill reminds Deirdre that her problems are her own doing. “You twisted its head, you made it burrow,” might be a funny and silly line, but it’s also true, as Deirdre realizes: “I’ve been ****ing myself this whole time!”. Like the bus out of town that never arrives, and a date shared with who you want to be with, not who’s really there, the freed pickle is a metaphor for learning to let go. Jeff eventually takes the stage for the acceptance speech, and explains how he always thought he had to choose between his job and his family. Today he realizes how easy the choice is since one is real and one’s a fantasy. By accepting his lifetime achievement award, passing a tearful Jill on the way there, maybe he has finally decided to accept everything else in his life, too.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.