Kidding, the newly Golden Globe-nominated Showtime series starring Jim Carrey, has a jarring twist baked into the premise: A main character turns into a giant puppet. But to those familiar with filmmaker Michel Gondry, an executive producer on the show and director of six of its 10 episodes, the sudden appearance of a human marionette shouldn’t be such a surprise.
Kidding may be the first Gondry narrative to center stitched-felt objects, but they’ve long been there in spirit. The director’s past works, from Mood Indigo to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, feature characters whose physical movements and life decisions mimic puppets, with invisible forces controlling them from just outside the frame. Watch the video essay above to see why Gondry, a storyteller who imbues his worlds with bright color and optimism, is so doubtful of his characters’ agency over their own lives.