Judge Cynthia Boris is also astoundingly popular in Australia.
In suburbia. Out of touch.
Picture a mother/daughter team that makes the characters on My Name is Earl seem like college scholars. Plop them down in the middle of an upper middle class suburban neighborhood and hand them one joke that doesn't end. That's Kath & Kim and if you really want to see it, it's now available on DVD.
Facts of the Case
Kath & Kim is a sitcom that was based on a hit Australian series of the same name. It's about a mother and a daughter with opposite personalities, who share the same horrendous taste in clothes and celebrity gossip mags. Kath Day (Molly Shannon, Saturday Night Live) is a work-at-home hairdresser obsessed with keeping the ravages of age at bay. She's madly in love with Phil Knight (John Michael Higgins, A Mighty Wind), the sandwich shop owner who has the incredible ability to see her pure heart past the layers of day-glo clothing. And yes, when they marry, she'll be Kath Day Knight.
Kim Day (Selma Blair, Legally Blonde) is her whiney, insufferable, spoiled daughter. In the pilot episode, Kim leaves her sweet husband Craig (Mikey Day) because he had the nerve to ask her to microwave something for dinner. And how cosmically weird is it that his real last name is the same as her fictional last name?
The entire series run is made up of only 17 episodes:
As recently as the early '90s, it was easy to get a laugh on TV. Zack Morris' scheme backfires, Sabrina accidently turns her boyfriend into a toad, and Urkel, well…enough said. But times have changed and simple simply doesn't cut it anymore. Today's audience looks for witty dialogue, topical humor, and well-rounded characters. You won't find any of that on Kath & Kim. A true throwback to the '80s, this one-note comedy couldn't be anymore simplistic if the characters sat on the couch throughout the entire episode and didn't speak.
The majority of the humor in this series comes from the lowbrow behavior of Kath and her daughter. They dress in garish clothes that look like they came from an '80s music video. They have no understanding of the world or how it works and they don't grow. From episode one to the painful end, there's no change.
What I don't understand about the characters is how they manage to live in a very nice home, in a nice neighborhood. That's part of the joke, I get that, but it doesn't make sense. Kath runs a hairdressing business out of her home (hello zoning laws) but mostly she spends her days exercising, planning her wedding and celebrity gawking. Like Molly Shannon's Mary Catherine Gallagher, Kath has a naïveté and an innocence that has her continually forging ahead into projects she's clearly not capable of handling. We're supposed to feel for her, cheer her on, but five minutes in to every episode, I was yelling, "give it up already!"
Like the time Kath got her heart set on having a hairdressing booth at the mall's prom fair. She battled her way up hill, was beat down several times, but kept on coming back. And in the end, she wow'd the crowd with a bizarre hairstyle straight out of the Jetsons. It was like Jan Brady trying to find that one thing she's really good at so she can step out of her sister's shadow. Funny back then, not so much now.
The only thing worse than Kath is Kim. All this character does is whine about how hard life is, while she's sitting on the couch painting her toenails with her mother bringing her snacks and drinks. I thought she'd get her comeuppance early on, then redeem herself for the rest of the series. It doesn't happen. She's as bratty and annoying in the final episode as she is in the first. Selma Blair is totally miscast in this role as she obviously has no sense of comic timing.
Molly Shannon, on the other hand, has the training to pull off a quirky sitcom, but it doesn't happen here. Another wasted talent is that of Maya Rudolph who appears as Kath's life coach. Again, funny when she first hits the screen but the joke remains the same throughout every episode. She's like a mystical Oprah, we get it. Move on.
Looking at the DVD itself, it has the video and audio quality you would expect from a new series but the special features do nothing to enhance your viewing pleasure. The gag reel is made up of actor's laughing—it's a comedy—nothing there. The deleted scenes were deleted for a reason. Even the commentaries are uneventful, despite being jam packed with cast members, writers, and the producer.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The only bits of light in this dark tunnel are John Michael Higgins and Mikey Day playing Kath and Kim's love interests. Higgins has the acting chops that comes from years working improvisational movies such as A Mighty Wind and Best in Show, but he's sorely underused here. Mikey Day is a Groundlings-trained actor who comes across sweet and charming on screen. May I suggest a spinoff series called Phil & Craig? Now that's something I'd watch.
A beloved comedy in its home country, Kath & Kim obviously got lost in translation.
Kath & Kim: Season One is guilty of fraud. The cast and crew are
hereby ordered to publicly apologize to Australia.
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Scales of Justice
• Episode Commentaries
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