No matter which country I visited when I was backpacking Europe this spring, I always found myself surrounded by Australians. It was awesome, of course, because almost all of the Aussies I’ve met are kind and clever, and they make better use of slang and swear words than any other people on earth. They helped me put together an Aussie dictionary, and for every word I learned — narky (annoyed), daggy (uncool), bogan (unkempt) — they told me that if I was truly going to pass as Australian, I would have to learn to love Kath & Kim.
When NBC announced they were going to remake the popular Australian sitcom, and that Molly Shannon and Selma Blair would star as the dysfunctional mother-daughter team, my first reaction was outrage on behalf of my Australian friends. But then I thought about how much I love Molly Shannon, and I couldn’t help but get a little bit excited.
The show premiered last night in the coveted 8:30 Thursday night time slot. The reviews have not been kind. USA Today called it “dumb and dull.” Barry Garron from Reuters said the whole thing felt like “a long, long skit.”
I watched Kath & Kim last night in lieu of the Colombian-pilfered Ugly Betty (which I still TiVo’d), and right before the Britain-snatched The Office. (America sure steals a lot of TV.)
Shannon and Blair have easy chemistry as mother and daughter, even though there is a mere eight-year age difference between them in real life. Their banter was quick and believable, especially the way they changed thread mid-sentence from griping at each other to admiring the other’s shirt or purse. Shannon was even able to use her body in that physically comedic way that made Mary Katherine Gallagher so famous.
My favorite scene of last night’s episode only lasted about six seconds. When Kath’s boyfriend, a mall sandwich shop owner, spots her eating a tuna wrap from another man’s sandwich stand two mall levels above him, the camera zooms in on his betrayed face, and Kath catapults the tuna wrap out of her hand and takes off running down the mall, calling his name.
The difficulty for Kath & Kim is going to be finding the balance between the shtick that made ’90s sitcoms like Friends and Seinfeld so popular, and the subtle zings and awkward pauses that make shows like 30 Rock and The Office such favorites today.
At the very least, Kath & Kim should get an entire season to find their footing. NBC has invested more in advertising for the sitcom than any other show this year.
The show is not perfect, but I’m willing to give it time to make its case. Molly Shannon deserves at least 10 episodes of loyalty from me.
Did anyone besides me watch the show? Thoughts? Opinions? Additions to my Aussie slang dictionary?