The television grave yard is full of failed remakes of foreign shows: Prime Suspect, Coupling, Cold Feet and the U.S version of the Aussie cult classic Kath & Kim. Starring SNL vet Molly Shannon and movie star Selma Blair, Kath & Kim premiered to a hostile reception and indifferent ratings and tanked – the show barely lasted a season. One critic summed it as one of the worst remakes ever. While no where near the strange brilliance of the Australian classic, it’s not a disaster.
Kath Day (Shannon) is mother to sullen and spoiled Kim (Blair). In the pilot, Kath found true love with mall sandwich shop proprietor, Phil Knight (John Michael Higgins). Kim meanwhile is dealing with a separation from her dimwitted husband, Craig (Mikey Day). Kath and Kim are codependent best friends as well as mom and daughter – they share a love of celeb gossip, tabloids, shopping, discount and mall shopping, and garish clothes. Their relationship is pretty dysfunctional, though there is a genuine love.
Shannon is a wonderfully talented comedienne, but she seems a bit subdued on the program. Unlike the orignal Kath, the American version is pretty level-headed. She’s also appealing and surprisingly intelligent and reasonable (despite her ridiculous clothing). Blair has never been terribly compelling on film, but here she is a revelation. She’s perfectly sullen with a wonderful pouty delivery. Kim is horribly unlikable and appallingly indulged, and Blair throws herself fully into the performance. She and Shannon have a great chemistry. Each episode ends with the two reclining on lawn chairs, flipping through glossy tabs, making catty comments on celebrities. Higgins and Day also add some incredible support – both are seasoned comic performers, and while it’s Shannon’s and Blair’s show, they hold their own.
Part of the charm of the Australian version was the malaprops – they’re not as prominent on this show. Also, the tone has been sweetened for American TV. Still, the show doesn’t deserve the poor reception and legacy.