Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Kath & Kim: "Pilot"

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

On paper, Kath & Kim sounds like a good idea, or at least one that has the potential to be funny: It stars two capable comic actresses, Molly Shannon and Selma Blair, as a hopelessly tacky, thoroughly empty-headed mother and daughter pair. Frequent Christopher Guest player, John Michael Higgins, is Shannon's fiancé, and he's always funny. And the show is based on a highly successful (read: funny) Australian sitcom. What could go wrong?

As it turns out, a lot. Kath & Kim has nearly all the elements for a good sitcom—funny cast, a funny model to work from, and judging by the attention to detail in the costume and set design, a more than adequate budget (Never has cheapness looked so expensive). What it doesn't have, however, is a decent script and, surprise surprise, that's a key element in a funny sitcom. When one of the best lines in the pilot is, "No! The pecan Sandies are for company!" something has gone very wrong somewhere.

Not that Kath & Kim really relies on lines for its humor. The first episode centers on what happens when 27-year-old Kim leaves her husband and moves back in with her happily empty-nested mom Kath. But most of the jokes seem to be visual: Molly Shannon running around in a loud, 80s aerobics get-up, complete with thong leotard; Selma Blair's muffin-top-baring top; the thoroughly un-ironic Glamour Shot of mom & daughter over the mantle in Kath's pastel atrocity of a living room. The message not so subtly telegraphed is: "They're so tacky! And they don't even know it! Isn't it funny?" In a word, no. Especially since the show's writers aren't content to just show us how tacky Kath and Kim are with tacky set design and tacky costumes, they have to constantly let the characters tell us as well. Within the first 5 minutes of the pilot, Kim is envious of her mom's hideous rug, "Oh that zebra rug is soo nice." They're so clueless! They have no taste! Isn't it funny?

But Kath & Kim aren't just tacky, they're also dumb, a fact that the writers also constantly hit us over the head with. "He's not the brightest bulb in the salon," Kath tells Kim about Kim's estranged husband. "Oh yeah, well what about Phil?" Kim responds, "He's no rocket surgeon." Gosh, they're so dumb they don't even know they're dumb! Isn't it funny? No? Well, here are 50 other jokes to make that exact same point!

In truth, the whole pilot episode suffers from a tendency to both repeat and over-explain. In places, there's even a voice-over so Kath and Kim can tell us exactly how dumb and clueless they are. The use of voice-over is highly unnecessary, since it seems to serve only as a highlighter for things that have already been highlighted. Never has the adage of "Show don't tell," seemed both more correct and ignored.

Still, even in the midst of all the tackiness and repetitive unfunny jokes, there are a few bright spots. Shannon's interactions with Higgins are funny, and the moment when they spot each other across the mall is wisely played for maximum awkwardness. Mikey Day, who plays Blair's estranged husband Craig, is also pretty funny. Like Kath & Kim, Craig is also an idiot, but his dopeyness isn't as loud or forced as theirs. When he's trying to win back Kim, he earnestly says, "I love you, dude." He's so dumb! But it actually is kinda funny. Unfortunately, a few scattered kinda funny parts don't make up for the obnoxiously unfunny whole.

Grade: D

Stray Observations:

—I'm unfamiliar with the Australian version, but hopefully it didn't include Kath & Kim toasting the virtues of global warming because, "getting a savage tan in 5 minutes is pretty convenient." They're so dumb! Har-Har