Ah, Kath And Kim, the much-anticipated, now-downtrodden one-camera remake of a popular Australian sitcom that NBC tried to bring to the USA. I’ve now seen every episode, and last night, I was trying to figure out what it is that does and doesn’t work about Kath And Kim, and, especially, why I continue to watch it.

Why I Think I Watch It, Maybe:

1. The Performances

All of the acting in Kath And Kim is way above-par for a TV comedy. Besides Molly Shannon and Selma Blair’s comic timing and chemistry as a mentally-challenged mother and daughter, John Michael Higgins (probably best known as Jennifer Aniston’s showtune singing brother in The Break Up) is absolutely hilarious as Kath’s speedwalking, possibly gay fiance Phil Knight. In that way, it’s a little Arrested Developmenty. (A little.)

2. The Mystery

Watching last night, I felt like Kath And Kim was closer to CSI than to a traditional sitcom, because of the inherent mystery of why? Why does this exist? Where is it going? What’s the point? It’s clear that something was lost in translation when the show was re-tooled for American audiences, but what was that, exactly? I don’t get it, and yet this mystery is the main reason I keep watching it. When is this show’s very existence going to start to make sense?

3. The Low-Level Hum Factor

Unlike bad sitcoms like, say, Two And A Half Men, Kath And Kim doesn’t offend all of your senses at once. It’s just kind of monotone — no laugh track, no big crazy “look at me!” moments (usually). It just goes on with its occasional one liners and jokes about celebrities, and doesn’t really arouse you in any way, to both its credit and detriment.

4. The Show’s Potential

It’s clear that Kath And Kim doesn’t know what it is yet. So far, it’s all about establishing the weird tone — I tried to find a clip of one of the show’s funny moments to put here, but there is no way to do that. You can’t get the show just by watching a clip. You have to watch the entire thing, after which, you also won’t get the show, but you’ll have some idea of what it is. Maybe. I have no idea — I just know I’m going to keep watching it until they take it off the air, because I have to know why this show exists, and because eventually they have to do something good with all those great actors. And it kind of reminds me of Romy And Michelle’s High School Reunion, which was a great movie. That’s all I have — the rest is a mystery.

Comments (12)
  1. I’ve also continued watching this show and feel it has received a lot of unfair criticism. The show may not be up to par with the other shows on NBC during its Comedy Night Done Right lineup, but it is far funnier than other sitcoms still currently on television. I agree whole heartily that the show hasn’t quite found its voice yet, but I feel that if it does, it could be a major hit. People just need to give it a chance.

  2. amen. I also watch it and have no idea why, but I feel like it has a lot of potential. In terms of its arrested developmentness, it has the ridiculous characters down, it just needs to do something with them. make it happen writers!

  3. Dr. TV  |   Posted on Nov 7th, 2008 +3

    5. Selma Blair’s Hotness

    I keep watching because of it, but Selma Blair is way too hot for the role. But sheer dedication and method acting brilliance helped her balloon to a whopping 110 pounds and I’ve never really been into fatties. So maybe it does work. This comment is a work in progress…

  4. “I just know I’m going to keep watching it until they take it off the air, because I have to know why this show exists, and because eventually they have to do something good with all those great actors.”
    Exactly.

  5. so i’m not the only person who doesn’t really know why i keep watching it, regardless of its mediocrity. wonderful!

  6. Really? John Michael Higgins is most famous for The Breakup? Not Best in Show, not A Mighty Wind, not as Wayne Jarvis on Arrested Development, but for the Breakup? *facepalm*

  7. I will go a far to watch the show on Hulu if I miss it (I just finished it five minutes ago).

    It is nowhere near 30 Rock or Office funny but I still do laugh a bit and I think that it’s because the actors are just so dedicated to their roles.

    It does have the potential to be hilarious and I hope that it reaches it.

  8. Rich  |   Posted on Nov 9th, 2008 0

    This didn’t make any more sense for fans of the Aussie original, which is a raucous piss-pull of suburban horror. The 5 minutes I caught of the American version strongly indicated that they’d removed everything funny and distinctive about the show. Namely, the ordinariness/physical ugliness of the characters, and the outrageous provisional dialogue. I think that after a week or two of showing the American version here they dumped it for reruns of the originals and trumpeted the fact in their advertising.
    Whether or not this show has more to offer it’s a damn shame that they took the soft, mid-nineties route and removed the groundbreaking/gritty elements. The point of the show wasn’t the single camera or the relationships, it was the single-minded consumer stupidity of suburbia.

  9. Mike  |   Posted on Nov 9th, 2008 0

    Interestingly, when they re-tooled the show for American audiences they removed a vital character from the Aussie version. Magda Zubanski’s character in the Australian Kath and Kim was by far the most popular.
    It seems to be so difficult to get that cultural transition right. The ill-fated Red Dwarf re-tooling is a prime example. In fact, as far as I can tell The Office is the only one to have any real success in that department.
    A few more Australian shows (We Can Be Heroes and Summer Heights High) have gone across recently. I’m curious to see if they do well.

  10. So they’re missing that ‘Strangers With Candy’ true ugliness that just catapults it to a new level.

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