Kath & Kim: articles

Putting the ass in middle class

Suburban nightmares Kath and Kim (TV One, 8.10pm) returned last week and for a moment it looked like the eye-watering outfits were about the only jokes left in a comedy which devotes itself to taking the mickey out of middle Australian consumerist culture.

But this is not yet a show to be taken for granted: just as you thought it couldn't get any worse than Kath's over-accessorised outfit in shiny red vinyl, patriotic jumpers with life-sized bits of Australian bush and wildlife appliqued on to the shoulders or Kel's addiction to grey shoes and manbags, suddenly—oh no—the middleaged lovebirds were shedding their clothes.

"Bring back the lurex threads, the pastels, the paisley waistcoats, the jumpsuits," you cried, as middleaged newlyweds Kath and Kel frolicked around the garden au naturel. The shock of the lovebirds' conversion to nudism proved the show still has much to expound upon. The dangers of nude exercycling, for instance, are not to be underestimated.

There seems to be plenty of comedically fertile ground left in the subdivision where life is an endless round of taking the Daewoo down to the local shopping mall and nights out at the local all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant.

The second season opened with Kath and Kel, daughter Kim and secondbest friend Sharon celebrating New Year at—where else—an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant. The "new Australian" waiter provoking a wonderfully cringeworthy bit of patronising, reverse-racism from Kath.

There were the show's trademark mispronunciations and malapropisms as Sharon called for a bottle of the restaurant's finest "Dom Paris-non". But there were also fresh laughs, as Kel toasted his bride of one month, still rehabilitating from the accident with the pumpkin coach at the wedding, with the cheering line: "Despite your Osteitis Pubis and temporarily foreshortened leg, you have made me a very happy man."

The show seems committed this season, too, to its leitmotifs: "look at moi, look at moi, look at moi" and "it's different, it's unusual". The interest lies in how creatively they can be used: Kim's innovative use of chutney in her baby-making strategy being a fine example.

This season it looks like the tables are turned, with Kim back in the "connubial" nest, pregnant and full of plans, and Kath, now that she's safely married to her "hunk of spunk" whose idea of foreplay is loading the dishwasher, is at a bit of a loose end.

Kim's no-nonsense and self-obsessed run-up to motherhood is already a promising antidote to the saccharine sit-com pregnancy. And Kath and Kel look set to take their commitment to the aspirational lifestyle to new heights.

In tonight's episode, expect a pleasing swipe at the telly home decoration and make-over show with Kim's attempts at renovation. Meanwhile, Kath and Kel, thankfully fully clothed, get stuck into the middle class's current obsession with fine cuisine.

By Frances Grant
October 27, 2003
The New Zealand Herald