'Kath & Kim': Lost in translation
Come on. I know you’re out there. Kath & Kim fans? No, I’m not talking about the American version, which debuted last night on NBC, but fans of the Aussie original, which has become a pop culture sensation since its debut Down Under in 2002.
Like me, you probably tuned in out of morbid curiosity, to see how Hollywood would make over the Aussie institution. The verdict: It’s not very noyce.
In translating the cult hit for a stateside audience, the creators of Kath & Kim have stripped the show of its essence and edge. Overly slick, it lacks the grit and wit of the original. The primary appeal of the Australian Kath & Kim, an Aussie friend once explained to me, is how “daggy” it all is. But where the Aussie version delights in skewering the smug suburban sensibilities of its characters, this version is oddly squeamish, shying away from deadpan deconstruction of the middle class, and opting instead for low-hanging sitcom-style laughs (Kim’s husband calls her “Dude”! Ha!)
And don’t even get me started on the casting. Molly Shannon makes a respectable showing as menopausal mom-on-the-make Kath (a role originated by actress-comedian Jane Turner), but Selma Blair can’t hold a candle to series co-creator Gina Riley’s muffin-topped fashion victim Kim.
All of which begs the question: Why can’t networks leave well enough alone, and let American audiences experience imports like Kath & Kim (and Ab Fab, for that matter) in their original form?
How do you feel about the new Kath & Kim, PopWatchers? And did you ever watch the Aussie series?