Culture

We Need To Talk About The Extremely Cursed American Version Of ‘Kath & Kim’

When people think of Australian culture, they think of Kath & Kim. The show is peak Aussie culture, and a national institution. Unfortunately, in 2008 America made its own version and the thing is entirely cursed.

In it, our foxy lady Kath Day-Knight was played by Molly Shannon, and Selma Blair played Kimberly Craig née Day. Sharon isn’t even in it, which should be all the evidence you need, really.

While it’s not a surprise an adaptation of the quintessential Aussie show failed, it is surprising to see just how awful it is. Just count how many times you cringe in this 32-second promo and then we’ll regroup:

See? Cursed. Unfortunately, it’s time we dived into this hot mess together.

What went wrong with the American Kath & Kim?

Perhaps the worst thing about the remake is that the American Kath & Kim had all the makings of a good show.

Molly Shannon and Selma Blair are treasures. It was produced by the same studio that adapted the US version of The Office. Jane Turner and Gina Riley were brought on as executive producers and consultants.

But none of that could make up for the fact that the show was just… not good.

It’s like the original was broken down into its parts: a self-absorbed mum from the ‘burbs, her idiotic daughter and her sweet but embarrassing husband. And then those parts were shoved into American culture like Kim shoving herself into a g-string.

The Selma Blair of it all.

Spare a thought for Shannon and Blair, who lost the war as soon as they signed on to play the foxy ladies of Fountain Lake. It’s not at all that they’re bad. There’s just no way these characters can exist without being tragically Aussie.

Our Kim proudly declares “I”m not a housewife, I’m a hornbag!” as she admires herself in the mirror before letting her gut out and pulling out a wedgie.

The American Kim proudly says her job is being a “trophy wife” and is played by Selma Blair who is, famously, a hornbag.

Our Kim is funny because she’s a Country Road size 10 with a fondness for Tiny Teddies and no idea how the real world works.

The American Kim is a Valley Girl who — actually, that’s about it. The writers absolutely scored Selma Blair and immediately gave up on giving her an actual character because she could just be dumb and hot.

“Mind the shoulder pads.”

Fashion played such a big part in our Kath & Kim. Awful, awful fashion made the show so good.

Unfortunately, the American version was afraid to make fun of itself like ours did. So the American Kath doesn’t have a perm and she doesn’t wear anything with a knitted wattle stuck to it.

The Americans even ruined Kath and Kel’s power walking outfits, putting them in clothes that are offensively “fine”.

Kath & Kim Australian and American side-by-side comparison

But here’s what we already know and Americans clearly don’t: that’s funny. Gumnut baby earrings are funny, and hideous earrings in the shape of something like, say, Britney Spears, or a dance movie would be funny.

That’s also why the American version didn’t have malapropisms, which might be the biggest crime of the entire affair. It tried, having Kim say things like “We’re enstranged” instead of “estranged”. But the joke begins and ends with the fact that Kim is dumb.

Who among us hasn’t said they want to be effluent, or said “look at moy”? Kath & Kim quotes have become a normal part of everyday life in Australia.

“You pack of chunts!”

What’s awful about the American Kath & Kim is that sometimes it’s genuinely funny. But the genuinely funny moments are just that — moments.

Mostly they’re throw-away lines from Shannon or Blaire, like when Kim says she thinks Craig (excuse me, sweetie, his name is Brett Craig) is cheating on her and her friend offers to stalk him.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Kath cautions.

“It’s what she does,” Kim replies, deadpan.

Or when that same friend meets a cute guy on her stakeout and starts stalking him as well. “Todd just left, I’ve gotta go through his garbage,” she says as she literally jumps out of the car.

In brief moments, maybe four or five every episode, it has the confident but casual hilarity of a New Girl or Happy Endings. Honestly, the show might have been a success if it was an original sitcom about the misadventures of a mum and her daughter.

But as Kath & Kim it’s just painful and a little offensive. Not because the American version made fun of us, but because it took one of our greatest national treasures and beat it to smithereens.

It is not noice, different or unusual.

(Lead image: Kath & Kim / ABC & NBC)