Kath and Kim - Not Nearly As Bad As Expected
Friday, October 10, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
There's almost no such thing anymore as "Must See TV". I DVR almost every show I watch, because I hate watching commercials, and I enjoy pulling up the show I want to watch at my leisure. That having been said, the only lineup I will occasionally sit down for is NBC's Thursday night set of shows. So, I happened to catch the series premiere of the new show in the lineup, Kath and Kim.

Now, I was aware of the show before last night. Much like its partner in the lineup, The Office, the American version of Kath and Kim was originally a sitcom in a different country (in this case, Australia), featuring the adventures of an obnoxiously tacky mother (Kath) and daughter (Kim). I knew that the original was a cult hit here in the states. I was intrigued because the original was so well-received, and the American version was set to feature the fabulous Molly Shannon, who I've always wanted to see featured in her own show.

However, advanced reviews of the new American version were definitely less than kind. Mo Ryan at the Chicago Tribune went so far as to say of the show: "Almost as good as Knight Rider!". That's pretty harsh. That's like telling someone "Your girlfriend's almost as pretty as that one legged prostitute down the street. You know, the one with all the boils." USA Today gave the show 1 star out of 4.

Imagine my surprise, then, to find myself literally laughing out loud at least half a dozen times during the premiere. I was delighted to see the role of Kath's fiancee filled by the awesome John Michael Higgins. I thought Molly Shannon was really funny, and there were several fun zinger lines seeded throughout. Now, was it a knock-out hit? No. There were some clunky moments, and Selma Blair's Kim is dangerously close to coming across as simply loathsome (at times you just want to slap that bitchface expression right off her mug). Still, was I entertained overall and would I watch a second episode? Yes.

What's going on here? Did my low expectations enable me to enjoy it simply because it didn't suck as much as I expected it to? Is Kath and Kim my own personal Sarah Palin? Did the fact that it did not do the TV show equivalent of collapsing into a puddle of its own urine and gibbering about the economy and healthcare mean that it scored a "victory" in my mind? I have to be honest here - I'm a pretty harsh critic of TV, I freely admit that the new version of Knight Rider is quite possibly the worst stinking pile of crap ever foisted upon innocent TV audiences. But that's why the comparison of Knight Rider to Kath and Kim feel so false - I've seen the abyss that is Knight Rider, and Kath and Kim is nowhere near that bad.

I have a theory about entertainment that goes: how good is it, in the context of what it's trying to be? If a film strives to be a great action flick, does it deliver a decent plot and lots of kick-assery? If a show wants to be about a bunch of mentally challenged losers, does it at least make you laugh? In other words, don't expect every single piece of cinema or TV to be the Next Great Thing. To quote my boyfriend, not every show needs to be The Office. Not every show should be The Office. There's a certain joy to a low-brow kind of comedy. On occasion, I just want to sit back and snicker at broad, stupid jokes.

There are two shows that I think offer valuable examples of how to approach Kath and Kim. The first is my beloved 30 Rock. Now, do I think Kath and Kim will ever begin to approach the comic genius levels of 30 Rock? No. But I do think back to 2 years ago when I saw the 30 Rock pilot. Frankly, it was uneven and sort of dull in places. Had I judged the show only on its first 2 episodes, I would have called it a disappointing C+ show at best. The show didn't really pop for me until episode 3 ("Blind Date") and the show didn't really find its footing on a consistent basis until halfway through the first season. Iit's possible that Kath and Kim may similarly just need some time to find its balance, in terms of characters and plotting, so I think we should give it at least 4-5 episodes before we totally condemn it.

The second show I am thinking of is FX's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Last night's episode was entitled "Who Pooped the Bed?". Yes, that's right - they did a 30 minute show almost exclusively about feces. It was crass, vulgar, disgusting, appalling... and very, very funny. Of course, Kath and Kim cannot tread the same taboo-breaking boundaries of It's Always Sunny, since NBC isn't going to let uncensored profanity and poop jokes fly on their network. On the other hand, it's a good example of a show that isn't afraid to plumb the depths of tacky, tasteless humor and come out a winner, so perhaps Kath and Kim can take a lesson from that.

Anyhoo, I suggest you check it out. It's not "Must See" yet, but it's certainly not a bad way to pass 22 minutes of your time. And it may blossom into a pretty good show, if given the chance. We'll see.
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On 12:46 AM , Brownie said...

I was out after about five minutes. I tried.