Watch What We Say

Kath & Kim

By Jason Lee

October 13, 2008

I hate them already.

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This fall, BOP takes a look at every new show from the five broadcast networks. Armed with some strong coffee and our beloved TiVo, we'll slough through the entire slate of freshman dramas and comedies, weeding through the trash to find the new shows that are (surprise, surprise!) actually worth your time and energy.

This week on Watch What We Say: Two brainless women named Kath & Kim.

Watching the new NBC "comedy" called Kath & Kim raises a key question with me: "Is it possible to create a well-made show about unlikable, dimwitted characters in such a way as to elicit laughter from one's audience?"

The key here lies in two words: "well-made" and "laughter" (well, maybe that's three words, but enough nitpicking). Clearly, you can have a well-made show about an unlikable character – my previous piece on CBS's dreadful new show, The Mentalist, illustrated this point. You can also have a not-well-made show about an unlikable character that's funny every now and then – see my review of "Gary Unmarried," which borrowed filmmaking techniques from the late '80s but still made me chuckle every once in a while.


The problem here is that neither of these shows were enjoyable. I suppose that the only two shows that actually fit into the somewhat narrow category of "well-made, funny comedy about bad people" would be the early '90s classic, Married With Children, and current animated hit, Family Guy. I would really not enjoy sharing a cab with characters from either of those shows, but I laugh when watching their mean antics from afar.

Which brings me back to Kath & Kim. This new offering from NBC stars Molly Shannon and Selma Blair as the titular mother / daughter couple. The two actresses don't look anything alike, but whatever. The pilot starts with daughter Kim returning home after separating from her new husband. His major infraction? He asked her to microwave dinner every couple of days or so. "I didn't sign up for marriage to cook or listen to someone else's feelings," she drones self-indulgently to her mother, "I'm a trophy wife."

Kath Day, on the other hand, has begun a budding new relationship with sandwich maker and shopping-mall-food-court-store-owner, Phil Knight (no relationship to the founder of Nike). The return of Kim complicates her relationship as Kath is sure that, any minute now, Phil is going to propose to her.

So what did I think of the show? Interestingly enough, this is more complicated than a simple "this show stank" or "this show was awesome!" On one hand, Molly Shannon is fantastic. I never thought I'd say that anything about this show was fantastic, but Shannon is. She perfectly captures the somewhat clueless, well-meaning mother who laughs a little too hard at all of her boyfriend's dumb jokes. And you know what? She actually made me believe that Kath loved Phil – it meant something when the couple broke up and then reunited at the end of the show.

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