The Yanks are ruining yet another overseas comedy series


Kath and Kim are the clueless, flamboyant, and extremely tacky Australian mother and daughter on the show of the same name. The Aussie series—whose cocreators, Jane Turner and Gina Riley, are also its stars—is a hysterical parody of suburban life in Australia. EVERYthing is over the top—the accents, the clothes, the props, the plotlines. And from the first time I saw the show, the thing I loved about it was the fact that the two female leads were willing to wear silly prosthetics and unflattering clothes for the sake of good comedy.

Voluntarily making oneself unappealing is business as usual for American male comedians—think Jack Black, Eddie Murphy, and Will Ferrell, for just a few examples. American female comic actors, however, almost always have to stay pretty: Friends, 30 Rock, and Will and Grace all testify to that. The general rule seems to be that if you’re a funny woman, it’s best to also be sexually desirable, and though a few women (like Amy Sedaris) seem to delight in perverting that directive, way more embrace it. (Take a look at this photo from a recent Vogue article for a nice example.) The same rule simply doesn’t apply in British and Australian shows like Absolutely Fabulous, The Royle Family, I’m Alan Partridge, and Nighty Night, and ultimately, I think that’s why American comedy will never stack up to what’s being done in those countries by female comedians.

(above from left to right: Strangers With Candy, Absolutely Fabulous, The Royle Family, I’m Alan Partridge and Nighty Night)

So what bums me out about the Yankified Kath and Kim is that not only has the outrageousness of the original been watered down, but it stars Selma Blair as Kim, the clueless twentysomething who fancies herself a living Barbie doll but who in fact is a lazy, selfish, and frumpy brat—you know, someone you might have sat next to in high-school Algebra. In the clips and photos I’ve seen, no real effort has been made to conceal Blair’s beauty and movie-star figure. I’m worried the ridiculousness of this character is going to be lost in translation. To make things worse, all the clips on the show’s official website focus on Kim, despite the fact that we all know her costar Molly Shannon is the real comedian—and, in my humble opinion, it’s Kath who always steals the show in the Aussie version.

Admittedly, I haven’t seen an actual episode yet (the show premieres on October 9), so I’ll have to eat my words if it does in fact turn out to be a decent remake. For now, however, I’m biting my fingernails in nervous anticipation.

by Briar Levit
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10 Comments Have Been Posted

Look at moiye!

Glad to see Aussie comedy included in the Bitch repertoire. As an Aussie myself, it makes me squirm to see these American remakes completely missing the point of the originals.

Interesting insight about intentional unattractiveness in comedy. It seems this often comes through in American comedy when men parody femininity - e.g. <i>Big Momma's House</i>.

Keep up the great blogging.

Any other good Aussie comedies to recommend?

<p>Thanks Cam! </p><p>I'm wondering if you can point me (us) in the direction of some other good Aussie comedies? Sometimes it's hard to get them over here, let alone even know that they exist—but it's worth the trouble, in my opinion.</p>

A little late, but...

TV Series: Frontline, The Games, anything by The Chaser (fairly Australia-centric humour) and the more recent Summer Heights High (again, may be Australia-centric).

Movies: The Castle, The Dish (very gentle comedy), Kenny. Muriel's Wedding is slightly comic, though more tragic - but it's an iconic Australian film.

It's worth checking out other work by Magda Szubanski, Gina Riley and Jane Turner, the women behind Kath and Kim. They've done a few TV series together and separately. Judith Lucy is another comedian of note.

The series SeaChange, while not strictly a comedy, centres on a strong, resourceful heroine.

If I think of any more, I'll be sure to add them.

I bet you eat arugula and other foreign lettuces

Oh, oh, Aussies and Kiwis oh aren't we grand! There you go, being an American anglophiliac twit, fussing and swooning and going all wet over those zany Brits, oh, aren't we funny, clever and sophisticated! Aren't we superior to those vulgar Americans, always loudest when they're saying the most ignorant things, always clinging to their guns and their religion and off looking for non-Christian brown people to oppress or kill or coopt the culture of!

What? Good old white bread American sitcoms guaranteed not to offend (or amuse) not good enough for us eh? We've got to go halfway 'round the world to the (dare I speak the sacred word aloud?) BBC to find anything worthy of OUR precious elitist better-than-regular-people taste!

You probably thought that Edina Monsoon with her fat suit and her rambling ab-hominum slurs against nice people and Patsy Stone's too-good imitation of a dried out crack whore were in some way amusing. Mostly all they ever did was talk wrong and way way too much. What's so funny about not talking so regular people can understand you or know what you're talking about? What's funny about being rude and abusing substances in front of the constipated and peevish daughter you named after a very elite powdered spice associated with wierd yellow food found only at trendy posh rip-off places that regular people avoid?

Right, so the Brits were giving us over boiled uptight pap like AbFab, while we were producing the likes of Dharma and Greg, Laverne and Shirley, Bewitched, I Love Lucy and Joanie Loves Chachi! Suck on that!

You probably pretend you liked the dumb English Office better than the Steve Carrell one which was actually funny and you probably go across town to Whole Foods to pick up Venezuelan Beaver Cheese by the wheel when you could get Kraft Cheese that would actually melt properly on macaroni and not stink right down the street.

You can't deny it: It was that nuanced American sensibility that produced the greats in women television performers: Carol Burnett, Phyllis Diller, Granny Clampett, Agent 99, Ginger and Maryanne, Peg Bundy, Kelly Bundy, Lamont's Aunt Esther, Patty and Selma Bouvier, Alice Cramden, Trixie Norton, Pebbles Flintstone, Maude Flanders, Hannah Montana, Punky Brewster, Blossom and Six!

And what's so terrible about an amusing fart or an excruciating pratfall? Better than a dumb joke about something that happened on the news so I never knew about it! And what's wrong with a swift, hilarious (and ubiquitous) kick to the nut sack of an endearing (annoying) male character who has no reason to be allowed to live? Admit it: No one does testicular assault and battery humor like we do. The Europeans know pinky fingers but they aren't even close in the crushed gonad department. Word!

But we both know it all comes down to the way you feel about The Homeland. How did you acquire your self-hatred and your shame of your own people, your own roots? Why do you hate America so? Why do you want us to lose and the terrorists, English and (urgh) Frensh to win?


Arugala is the American name for what the Brits call <i>rocket</i>. But that's beside the point. Steven Colbert—is that you?!

hehe, what?

hehe, what?

This isn't serious is it?

This isn't serious is it? Surely no one's stupid enough to think like this. No one hates America, we just happen to like comedy. Americans ruined the office by removing all of the subtlelty from the humour (effectively what you've done to it was parodied ahead of time in Extras, just so you know). They trashed Red Dwarf and Coupling. Then have definitely wrecked Kath and Kim, completely missing the point of who there people are supposed to be. I'm not saying Americans can't do comedy, but they have proven themselves unable to capture the things that the rest of us appreciate in comedy, things like cultural satire.

Also, the British are experts of the low brow. Who could forget the classic Lister shrinking under pants scene from Red Dwarf? Or Mannie's accidentally sitting on his self from Black Books? I'm aware if you're not serious then I'll look like an idiot but I'm afraid I'll have to risk it.

By the way, Newstopia is great comedy, The daily show is not.

I'm pretty sure the above

I'm pretty sure the above comment wasn't serious...however I have to say it's bang out of order to say that <i>The Daily Show</i> is not great comedy! That show cracks me up on a regular basis, though I'll admit that Colbert Report is even funnier and more innovative in my opinion. I haven't seen <i>Newstopia</i>, but I don't think the shows have to be mutually exclusive. If it's an issue of wanting news from a non-American perspective, check out the podcast, <a href=" title=" Bugle</a>, which features two Brits dissecting the week's news with hilarity and wit.

Arugula Breath: Thanks

Arugula Breath:

Thanks for
a) making my point (re your affinity to arugula and your status as a virtual plastercaster of Anglo Saxons)
b) validating my truthiness as a shrewd observer of cultural phenomena
c) associating me with one man on TV with the huevos to keep it real
d) being a dame wid a brain, a mouth, a pretty good eye, and an opinion or two for color

Arugula. It's a veja da

Arugula. It's a veja da bull.

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