The Wife:

It’s taken me three episodes of Kath & Kim to truly form an opinion of the show and that is this: I like about 50% of it and I’m really put off by the other 50%.

Here are the things I like:

1. Selma Blair, Selma Blair, Selma Blair. Blair is a gifted actress who is completely willing to play characters who are ridiculous (see Ursula Udders in John Waters’ A Dirty Shame) and downright unlikable (Viviane in Legally Blonde and, to an extent, Kim on this show). Yet her performances are fully-inhabited and no matter how irritating I may find her character (and I indeed do not like Kim very much), I find her a complete joy to watch. This chick gives it her all, and I think that willingness to take chances makes her a truly gifted comedian. She also gets the majority of the funny lines, so that helps, too. I’m watching this show almost entirely for her, as she makes up 30% of the 50% of this show that I like.

2. The theme song is a remix of my favorite Scissor Sisters song ever, “Filthy/Gorgeous,” and I love that their fabulousness is all over NBC every Thursday for 30 seconds. I’d say that makes up about 5% of the things I like about this show.

3. The men of Kath & Kim. I really enjoy Kath’s sandwich-hocking fiancé, a man who in any other universe would likely be a serial killer, but in this universe is just a good-natured guy who likes sandwiches, exercise, Kath Day and very short silk robes. I’m equally fond of Kim’s “instranged” husband, Craig, who really likes working in an electronics store and for some reason tolerates the horrible girl-child he married. I don’t really understand why these two got married in the first place, but they don’t really seem to know either, so I guess that’s okay. I’d say that they two of them are about 10% of why I like the show.

4. The remaining 5% of things I like about Kath & Kim is probably the ridiculous lengths the costumers had to go to in order to create such a strange amalgamation of tack in which to clothe its stars. It’s all quite horrible, but I’m really impressed by its intentional awfulness. I mean, wow, just look at Kath’s exercise wear. Just look at it. But not for too long, or it will start to burn your eyes.

You told him about that time I had big giant boobies? How dare you!

You told him about that time I had big giant boobies? How dare you!

Here are the things I dislike about the show:

1. The voiceover! This show could be a lot funnier if it relied solely on the interactions among its strange, strange cast. The voiceover is not funny, nor does it make sense in an absurdist sitcom such as this. It also comes across as a lot of “telling,” rather than trusting Molly Shannon and Selma Blair to “show” us whatever Kath and Kim are thinking/feeling in the voiceovers. This is 20% of what I dislike about the show.

2. The “Kath & Kim Sun Themselves” segments at the end. There are a number of reasons why these don’t make sense to me. First of all, mother and daughter read gossip magazines in these segments, which bothers me a.) because it seems like a really forced way to keep a show that seems to make a point about how outdated the characters are (they work in a mall, for chrissakes!) in some sort of stride with popular culture and b.) it doesn’t make sense for Kath to read these magazines. Kath doesn’t have any established interested in celebrity culture, but her daughter sure does. I get why Kim reads them, because, in her own mind, she thinks she is like the celebutards she reads about. Kath? There’s no reason for her to be doing this activity in the end scenes, unless she’s marking pages for haute haircuts. Secondly, while I appreciate the Ford Warriors in Pink campaign and their charitable contributions to breast cancer research, it was really lame for the end segment of “Respect” to basically be a pitch for the decidedly cute Warriors in Pink scarf. Every celebrity should have a cause, indeed, Kath Day, but you aren’t one and until that moment you hadn’t even expressed a desire to be like one, so this strikes me as a lame ploy, even if it’s for a good cause. Finally, nothing in these end segments is funny. I’d almost rather NBC add in 2.5 more minutes of commercials for me to TiVo through rather than have to watch another one of these. That’s definitely 10% of dislike, right there.

3. The pacing. The pacing on this show is really awkward and it feels like a lot of the jokes are currently falling flat, part of which may be because Molly Shannon seems to have decided to root her Kath Day firmly in reality, portraying her as an idealistic dreamer, which is not entirely what I would have expected. Those things are true of Kath, but there has to be a way to make her seem more ridiculous like the other people in her universe and a little less sad. I don’t want to fault Shannon for her portrayal of the character, but really it’s her Kath that ruins the pacing in many of her scenes. Maybe it’s simply the material she’s given. I don’t know. With only three episodes under her belt, I can’t quite tell if it’s the writing or if it’s her, but one or both of them is ruining the pacing of this show. I’m willing to believe in these ridiculous people and their anachronistic obsession with the mall and mall culture (although it makes me question if a show based on that conceit can even survive in a post-mall 2008), but they need to be 100% committed to that vision, and there’s something about Kath that’s dragging that down a lot. There’s my other 20% of dislike.

That said, I’m willing to ride out Kath & Kim a little longer because the good things about it are very good. I wasn’t fond of the first episode, but it established the relationship between our two stars well enough. Here are some good quotes from that episode:

  • “I didn’t sign up to cook dinner or be interested in how anyone’s day was!” – Kim, on why she left her husband to move back in with her mom
  • “It’s like I threw a panther in the air and caught it in embroidery.” – Kath, on her fetching panther sweater.
  • “You’re my universal remote.” – Craig, on how he loves Kim more than the electronics she breaks, a quote I love so dearly that I think I might engrave it on a universal remote and give it to my husband for his birthday.
Deleted scene from that Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Robin Sparkles crossover video.

Deleted scene from that Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Robin Sparkles crossover video.

The second episode fared better for me as Kath desperately wanted to show off her hairstyling skills in a prom fashion spectacular at the mall. She did this in part to piss of her arch hairstyling rival, Tina (Melissa Rauch from Best Week Ever), who has the most coveted hair salon in the mall and hair so big you can stuff it full of secrets. This plot line culminated in Kim wearing her mother’s signature 80s prom hairdo and riding with her mother on a kiosk right into the atrium of the mall (and center of the Promenade Fashion Show), much to Tina’s chagrin. True ridiculousness, and truly Kath & Kim‘s best moment so far.

In “Old,” Kath and Kim go to a bridal expo where Kath becomes very insecure about marrying Phil the Sandwich Guy because her daughter, fiancé and bridal sales associates have all pointed out that she’s 40, which is totally old. She really wants to dance to something cool at her wedding, but Phil is a little hesitant. Kath thinks this is because he’s getting cold feet about marrying an old lady and immediately assumes he’s cheating when she sees him with a woman in the sandwich shop. Of course, as is obvious to me and hopefully every other viewer in America, this woman is a dance instructor, who has been teaching Phil how to be funky, fresh and young on the dance floor to impress Kath at their wedding. Kath break up with Phil and they reunite on the dance floor of a gay club, shaking their respective groove things in a choreographed dance that was funny for its lameness.

“I’m tired. I’ve had enough gay.” –Kim

Seriously, who made that denim onesie? Its so awful I have to have it.

Seriously, who made that denim onesie? It's so awful I have to have it.

Kim’s plot in this episode also involved a possible cheating husband and introduced us to Angel, Kim’s friend who is known for stalking her exes. Kim hires Angel to spy on Craig, but Angel ends up finding a new hot guy to spy on:

Kim: He’s a douche.
Angel: He’s a hot douche. He’s gonna be my douche.

Kim confonts Craig about not coming home and they almost make up, until Kim overreacts to the fact that Craig remembers his ex-girlfriend’s name and she storms out, breaking some electronics in her wake. As funny as she is, I’m afraid all of Kim’s plots will be like this one and will therefore become incredibly tiresome, no matter how funny Selma is in the role, spewing out delicious solipsisms like “Jordanian almonds” and “We’re instranged” in regards to her marriage.

The Husband:

This is one of those shows I’d recommend if you’re a little buzzed – that’s us, a family blog! – because, at least for the first two episodes, I found myself laughing a whole lot more than I anticipated, mixed in with quite a few bathroom breaks during the commercials. I am especially impressed by Selma Blair, an actress I used to like but started to love right around fall 2004.

(Here’s where I tell a story my wife has heard me tell far too many times, but it’s new to this blog, so Imagonna do it!)

From 2003-2005, I worked as the Arts & Entertainment Editor of my university’s newspaper (you’re going to have to do some detective work to figure out which university that is, suckas!), and one of the greatest benefits was that, as the school was located smack dab in Los Angeles County (a clue!), I was able to attend many press days for movies both big and small. That September, I was invited to the press day for A Dirty Shame, a hilarious and very vulgar John Waters movie, and as a Waters fan I jumped on the opportunity immediately. In summation, I got to interview Waters mainstay Mink Stole, Johnny Knoxville and Waters himself (no Tracy Ullman or Chris Isaak, unfortunately). But my favorite interview of the day was with Selma Blair.

It was the middle of the day at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons, and we the writers (I was usually trapped in a room with one other college journalist and all the unwashed online writers from such sites as JoBlo, AICN and C.H.U.D.) were enjoying our downtime after dealing with Knoxville’s very aggressive interviewing style. (Not that he was bad. Just…aggressive.) Suddenly, somebody kicks in the hotel room door so hard it smashes against the wall, and there on the other side is a tiny black-haired Hulk by the name of Selma Blair, screaming,


Srsly, WTF?

Srsly, WTF?

After five seconds of terror, her lips curled into a smile, and then she giggled and bounced into the room and into her chair.

“Questions. Let’s go. I can set you all on fire!” (Hellboy had come out just a few months earlier, btw.)

It was the best entrance I had ever seen, and to see an actress have such fun with her job and the ensuing hoopla (such as, you know, treating the press as a person and not a product) was a welcome respite that year, only a couple weeks after witnessing John C. Reilly get into a verbal sparring match with a British journalist about the controversy surrounding him storming off the set of Lars Von Trier’s Manderlay.

I think Selma’s completely fearless, and she is an absolute treat on this show.

I’m actually surprised, though, by Molly Shannon. It’s not that I think she’s great on the show by any means – she seems to lack any real personality – but considering I have been annoyed by nearly all of her antics on SNL and in movies, I like that she’s not being completely overbearing. She did something similar with the completely forgotten Mike White sitcom Cracking Up from a few years back, where she simply slept through a handful of episodes while better actors such as Jason Schartzman, Christopher McDonald and Zooey Deschanel took center stage.

I also hope for the return of Angel, as I am very fond of the actress who plays her, Justina Machado. Not only did she play Vanessa, Rico’s wife, on Six Feet Under, but I’m also amused that my wife and I just recently watched her on an episode of (coincidental name alert) Angel.

Selma’s husband (Mikey Day), though, I can take him or leave him. There’s been zero oomph coming out of this actor or his character.