In Sort-Of Defense Of Kath And Kim

Lindsay Robertson | November 7, 2008 - 11:18 am

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.