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Kath and Kim: US Edition: Hitler Edition Review
Why is there an American version of Kath and Kim? It's not a difficult question to answer. It's very simple: American audiences cannot handle something foreign, even if the language is English, because they cannot relate to different cultures, cultures not as decadent and stupid and wrong and cultureless as theirs. Oh, yes, some of you will no doubt think "that's being a bit unfair to Americans". Well, you're wrong. It's completely fair. Foreign movies never come out here for mass consumption because reading is too hard. Christ, it involves, like, looking at symbols, interpreting them and then understanding all the many symbols in conjunction. Sure, reading "Just a little torture" on a big theatre screen might be easy to some elitists, but shit, they ain't real Americans. You can easily figure out what Americans can handle and what they can't by asking yourself "could a retarded child handle it?", replacing the 'it' with whatever you're wondering about. Australian accents and Australian cultural references? Retarded children would be fucking confused and therefore scared (with frightened defecation likely following). American accents and American cultural references? Well, retards do indeed love themselves some Applebee's. GREENLIGHT THAT SHIT NOW! Now you understand Kath and Kim US's existence.
For those of you who haven't seen the original television show, Kath and Kim is about a woman whose 20 something daughter moves back in with her after years of empty nest bliss. The Australian program is much funnier than that premise sounds and the American program is much unfunnier than that premise sounds. In this version, the mother is played by Molly Shannon while Selma Blair plays the daughter. When I think comedic lead, I don't think of Molly Shannon. When I think 'worst last images to see before you die', I think of Molly Shannon. The plot for this first episode of wonder and a desire to smash my wine glasses and pick up all the pieces with my mouth is thus: Kim leaves her husband (who is a mediocre redneck that the writers didn't even bother giving personality to) and moves back in with Kath, who, to her surprise, is dating someone. That someone is sandwich shop entrepreneur John Michael Higgins, aka Mentok. This results in some hijinks which aren't funny and meander for the 20 unfortunate minutes which will remain forever etched in my memory. One of these hijinks involves Mentok finding Kath to be betraying him by eating something at a different mall shop. CHEATING LOL!!!! Eventually he proposes and she accepts, no doubt fueling more wacky adventures. Marriage! People have marriages!
You know how you could make The Shining scarier? Add this image into it, or make Molly Shannon the rotting corpse Jack Nicholson tries to fuck. Either would work.
The concept that will of course fuel the rest of the series before cancelled in a couple of seasons or ended prematurely through a Muslim jihad is Kath will be trying to live her life but Kim will fuck it up with her drama and her stupidity, probably resulting in some hilarious circumstances regarding her impending wedding to Mentok the Mindtaker. They'll engage in redneck-lite comedy of errors. A classic setup, right? Yes. It's so classic they'll use it in every fucking episode, I guarantee you. There's not much room for innovation in the premise, since the writing team obviously does not have the skill that the Australian original did by virtue of them being worthless American scum. There's nothing worth seeing from this premise. Without good writing, it's a common, vanilla concept that will only lead to uninspired sitcom bullshit. I'm surprised there's not a laughter track, because I really need to be told when it's time to laugh when it comes to Kath and Kim US.
What if the ring EXPLODED?!
There are no jokes as such. I'm sure if you analyzed it like the Zapruder film you could identify instances of set ups and punchlines/pay offs, but I don't intend to refer to there being jokes that requires a viewer to comb through the 22 minutes of pain. It's not motherfucking worth it. The comedy consists of the audience laughing bitterly at the stupid characters, knowing/hoping they're not as pathetic and stupid as the people on Kath and Kim. I can imagine the sneers on every petty bourgeoisie watching this trash because it's not a fantasy to suggest the public likes to see fictional depictions of people worse off than them to make themselves feel better about their decadent, go nowhere life situations of compulsory consumption and diminishing returns. Isn't that the whole point of such programs which constitute 'reality TV'? And it's not like the pathetic people on Kath and Kim US are funny in their idiocy, like several British comedies (I'm Alan Partridge, Red Dwarf, The Office, Da Ali G Show) or Trailer Park Boys or, fuck, even the fuckers on Maury are. Trailer Park Boys had "From Russia With The Love Bone" and Mr. Lahey saying "Randy...I am the Liquor"; what the fuck does Kath and Kim have? That's right - goddamn nothing. And with those, Maury possibly excepted, you care about the characters despite their massive character flaws. In this situation I hated all of them, though Mentok less so but only because he's Mentok the Mindtaker. I doubt sympathy for the other characters will develop in subsequent episodes, but I don't really give a shit because I ain't tuning in for episode 2.
His facial expression makes me think his mind was taken.
So yes, this show is bereft of comedy. The only way to laugh at Kath and Kim if you're a decent person with taste is if it's the kind of laughter that presages murderous anger that this shit is on the air while [insert favorite cancelled show] got axed or an actually unique idea wouldn't survive NBC's rigorous watering down for deadender consumption process. I suppose having Mentok play the mom's boyfriend also amuses for a nanosecond until you realize he won't use his Mentok voice or take anyone's minds. I kept expecting him to do either of those things and I wound up sorely disappointed when the show ended without any "boo-wee-ooh". There's nothing funny about the show. No jokes, no comedy, and the performances are uniformly bad. Molly Shannon annoys just as much as she does anywhere else. Although the show is incredibly awful, I'm somewhat at a loss when trying to spit venom. Sure, it's terrible, but what the fuck can you really say about it? It exists and will last a season or two since America is fucking stupid and backwards, an industrial country with the intellect to match fucking rotting corpse Eastern bloc countries like Poland or the Ukraine. Of course Americans are going to respond positively to Kath and Kim; they'd titter in wonder if someone came to them and waved around a blue shirt in their line of sight. "Blue? Blue! I love you, blue!"
The way it's shot is interesting because the show has the structure of a multicamera sitcom yet still follows the trend of making sitcoms less sitcom-y. Although I hate canned laughter, I do realize how live studio audiences can help a show's comedy, such as on Seinfeld or on Red Dwarf. The cognitive dissonance of what is so obviously a standard sitcom having the cinematography of the single camera style confused me for more than a while. I mean, Kath and Kim liberally uses overacting to supposed comedic effect as an engine for its supposed comedy. In single camera shit the desire is to make it more realistic and less of hodgepodge of caricatures all bumping into each other. Ugh. Kath and Kim is exactly what we need to be expunging from the American comedy landscape. Although I don't advocate just dry, The Office ripoffs that invariably confuse quirk and comedy, but broad, cartoony bullshit with no depth harkens back to those bad old days of 90s sitcoms in which people actually thought Sinbad was a viable leading man. Ugh. I shudder at the thought.
I bet something hilarious will unfold!
Selma Blair is the only reason to watch Kath and Kim, excluding live action Mentok. She wears a top which leaves her midriff exposed and she acts like a vapid teenager (something I find oddly erotic from Selma Blair). Nice to ogle even if her character's retarded. Everything else about this abortion fucking sucks. It's hard to even call it an abortion because a comparison insults abortions which, for the most part, are much better done these days, especially with the advent of Planned Parenthood. I mean, I could understand if the sample size of abortion was, you know, the backalley ones in Romania in the 1980s, but abortions are so professional now it seems a disservice to the brave men and women who turn the vacuum cleaner on and off to conflate their work with a crappy, soulless sitcom. But Kath and Kim does share some aspects with abortion in that a lot of sucking is involved in both. And Kath and Kim needs to end up in the dumpster. Molly Shannon dissipates all the sexual arousal one receives from staring at Selma Blair because not only does Shannon look ugly, the show makes her look even uglier in an effort to display a noticeable age difference between the two actresses that doesn't exist in real life (although to be fair, the Australian version lacked a realistic age difference between the two actresses too).
I would've much preferred to see the Germans remake Kath and Kim, circa Hitler's rise to power of course. In it, the American characters would be caught by the SS and sent off to concentration camps. Every episode would have them thinner and more degraded until the final episode in which they're sent off to the showers and they never return. There is no downside in that adaptation: you get to see Selma Blair naked and you get to see the characters murdered. Who doesn't want to see the agonizing end of Molly Shannon, considering she's agonized the American public for so long already? I'm ambivalent as to whether this show will catch on; I don't want to make a prediction, especially as NBC's financial and creative throes requires one to throw out all conventional wisdom when analyzing. For all I know, NBC could decide to expand the show to an hour and commission three spinoffs. Or it'll die out like a Rudy Giuliani presidential campaign. Too soon to tell.