Filthy & Gorgeous (Kath&Kim)

October 9, 2008 at 10:00 pm | Posted in music, tv shows | Leave a comment

Kath: What did you think marriage was gonna be, huh? Flying off in your private jet to have drinks with the Prince of Delmonico?
Kim: Well, I didn’t sign up for cooking dinner or being interested in how anyone’s day was. I’m a trophy wife!

Kath & Kim
NBC Thursday Premiere – 8:30 PM, October 9, 2008

After hearing that the UK/US ocean crossover of The IT Crowd had been shelved and replaced by the US “makeover” of hit Australian show Kath & Kim… needless to say I was bummed. However, as a firm believer of not judging something before you give it a chance, I decided to watch the premiere episode. (Watch here at Hulu) Strategically placed between two of NBC’s most popular shows: My Name Is Earl, a trailer trash comedy that I championed in its first season, but now has sadly lost a little of its flavor for me, and the UK/US crossover version of The Office, which conversely has grown on me more with each season (now that its not a plot for plot translation of the original… more on that later). The series was originally slated to air on Tuesday nights, but NBC switched it to its Thursday night comedy block. Personally, I think NBC might do well to break up their programming a little bit… look how well Fraiser did on Tuesdays to draw viewers back in the day. It seems however that FOX’s American Idol may have put a strong hold on Tuesday and Wednesday primetime market. Who can compete with weekly two-hour competitions? Therefore, I can see why NBC would want to continue their Thursday night viewership, forever cemented by its predecessors Friends, Will and Grace, and Thursday comedies of yesteryear.

Since the original series of Kath & Kim (Wiki) has already aired in Australia for four seasons, if the show takes off in the States there is plenty of material to choose from. Set in suburban Florida and starring American actresses Selma Blair and Molly Shannon, the plot mainly focuses on the two title characters, a comedicly delusional and dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship. The daughter, Kim, rushes back to her mother, Kath Day’s home and announces her plans to divorce her newly-wedded husband, Craig. This comes as a shock to Kath, who has moved happily into the next phase of her life, including her boyfriend/lover Phil Knight and turning her daughter’s old room “into a freakin’ Curves.” Kim claims that the marriage is over because she is a trophy wife (i.e. the opening review quote), which is just the sort of self-aggrandizing, obnoxious, twenty?-something behavior that results from too much celebrity gossip and Paris Hilton worship.

Have to say... I really like the logo design!

I really like the logo!

Apparently, this apple falls not so far from the tree, as Kath herself is a shining example of the deluded hipster moms of your. I say this because that plot line is reminiscent of so many sitcom jokes from the early nineties. Except in this case the daughter is not grossed out by her mother trying to be an age she is not… they both revel in their relationship and their collective knowledge of all things chic and trendy. It’s not clear whether this show exists in the now, based on the some of the dated humor and hysterically tragic fashion sense. Having said all that, the potential for this comedy is overflowing! Compared to the original series pilot, the translation to US audiences is smooth due to the star power of Shannon and Blair. This show is prime for audience members who can either personally relate or can’t get enough of pulp like Keeping up with the Kardashians. I’m thinking a nod of homage is also due to such fore-running shows like Absolutely Fabulous, featuring women with utterly brazen “style” in that so bad its good way.

Just like Will Ferrell in the Step Brothers review, I am a big fan of Molly Shannon from SNL. Her comedic timing and commitment to character is on par with the great comedic ladies of our generation. Selma Blair has also been in several enjoyable movie roles, including the similarly cast spoiled nitwit in Cruel Intentions. I look forward to seeing how this show progresses because just like the Day-to-Knight jokes, it could get really old, really fast.

Another Kath and Kim review who’s on the fence too

Scathing review by TIME magazine

According to an late August post on Women in Comedy, Kath & Kim was very heavily advertised on NBC during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, with a 38% ad recall rate, as opposed to 44% of those surveyed remembering ads for Heroes. Regrettably, of said 38 percent only 13 percent expressed interest in watching the October premiere. “NBC executives have gone out of their way to give Kath and Kim a chance to survive the cut-throat US TV market, where shows are axed after just one or two episodes if the ratings are dismal. NBC also ordered 13 Kath and Kim episodes up front, a risky and expensive gamble.”

Executive produced by the stars and creators of the original Australian series Jane Turner and Gina Riley, it seems that NBC has found a format for crossing over international hit shows… Bring in the original creators to produce! This worked like a charm for Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais, the original stars and creators of UK’s The Office. In a show by show comparison, the first season of the US Office is almost literal word for word translation of the UK episodes – possibly in fear of breaking something that already worked so well overseas. Fans of the original show cried out in opposition and some even boycotted the new version because to them, there was just no comparison. Upon viewing the original UK series, I can see why those fans were so upset. Comparisons between the main characters are too close for comfort. Once the US version plot went past where the UK series finale ends, instead of dropping off it picked up momentum (mostly due to the show’s success) and now stands on its own as one of the better shows on television today. This is not the case with Kath & Kim… learning from The Office experience, I feel that this adaptation dives right in and takes more chances, making it feel even edgier than the original, right from the get go. Granted if this show is going to survive, it really had to pop, especially when lined up against already proven Thursday night comedies. There are some major differences and missing elements (like Sharon, the sports-obsessed neighbor who wonders why she can’t get a date… with a guy 😉 ) that may have been restructured for future episodes. Wondering what the US equivalent would be for Sharon? I guess I’ll just have to tune in and find out…

P.S. Really enjoying the use of the Scissor Sisters‘ Filthy/Gorgeous for not only the title sequence, but as score throughout the show! Sweet.

RATING: ****/5 (Worth seeing, but granted an extra star for the excellent performances by Molly Shannon and Selma Blair)
Recommendation: Keep your tube tuned to NBC between Earl and the Office. You may not regret it!


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