Kath & Kim: articles

Kim and Kath

Kath & Kim

Icon or con?


There is an uncomfortable, necessary truth to be found in Fountain Lakes. It speaks from the Australian soul, fenced by white pickets and buried in the heartland of our sunburnt, suburban country. Kath and Kim, cartoonishly drawn but performed with breathtaking brilliance, aren’t a criticism of Australia, or Australians, they are a celebration of it and us.

Not the polished, play-acted Australia pushed by the “cardonnay”-drinking, eastern suburbs bourgeoisie who, between air-freighted issues of Vanity Fair, sermonise about the cruelty of the characterisations.

Kath and Kim are real Australians, like the rest of us who regard world affairs and our waistlines with an equally cautious eye and aren’t afraid to own up to our suburban roots—a world of over-the-back-fence conversations populated by permed, polyester mums and aunties who cast a loving, but disapproving, eye over everything, and G-strung cousins and sisters who truly understand the slimming power of the cigarette.

The few television characters that achieve immortality speak the truth. For that reason, Kath and Kim will surely stand tall beside Ted Bulpitt, Maggie Beare and Sir Les Patterson.

Michael Idato


Don’t argue that because it attracts an audience of more than 2 million Kath & Kim must be good. By the measure of popular success the best meal on the planet is a Big Mac and the best drink is a plastic bottle of Coke. The same applies to Kath & Kim.

Anyone with a modicum of taste should know that when it comes to satire of Australian suburban life, Barry Humphries’s early work—Sandy Stone, early Edna Everage—is still a benchmark. As Clive James observed: “The force of intellect Humphries brings to the seemingly worthless minutiae of everyday Australian life depends absolutely on his studious immersion in European culture and his readiness to measure his work by its standards.” That, in terms of the sadly mediocre and parochial standards offered by Gina Riley and Jane Turner, is something Kath & Kim doesn’t have.

Further, a comedy that relies so heavily on malapropisms (such as “effluent” for “affluent”) is relying on a one-dimensional joke and the assumption that suburban women of small pretensions would use (and confuse) such terms.

The result is a program so unfunny that it makes an ageing stand-up comedian at the local RSL seem like Oscar Wilde.

Bruce Elder

By Michael Idato & Bruce Elder
December 30, 2004
Sydney Morning Herald