“Kath & Kim”
Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.
2.5 out of 5 Stars
In the ’80s, women couldn’t get enough of spandex workout clothes, leopard prints and midriff t-shirts. But if a girl today wore any of that, she’d most likely receive bewildered looks and end up on TLC’s “What Not to Wear.” The female characters of NBC’s “Kath & Kim” aren’t just clueless when it comes to current fashion trends — they’re generally clueless in life, too.
“Kath & Kim” — based on an Australian comedy of the same name — follows the lives of a self-absorbed divorcee and her equally narcissistic, newly married daughter. The pair isn’t your typical mother and daughter duo who like to shop and have lunch together. Kath (Molly Shannon, “Saturday Night Live”) and Kim (Selma Blair, “Hellboy II”) live to shop at the mall, but are a little out of touch with what’s actually considered “in” these days. Despite their fashion faux pas, they wear their tacky outfits proudly.
Some women may call their mom or daughter their best friend, but Kath and Kim take that idea a step further. Kim depends on her mom so much that she leaves her husband because she “has to do stuff,” like microwave dinner while Kath breaks up with her boyfriend because Kim supposedly needs her. The dysfunctional dependence creates uncomfortable yet funny situations, setting the show apart from TV’s other mother-daughter duos. Think “Gilmore Girls” meets Dolly Parton’s closet.
Despite its offbeat premise, the show disappoints in some parts. The chemistry between Shannon and Blair feels overly contrived. Blair tries to act like a spoiled and immature 20-something, but instead, her whiny voice just sounds like nails on a chalkboard. The only thing gratifying about Blair’s performance is her recent weight gain for the role. In addition to Blair’s weak performance, many of the jokes aren’t even funny, except when Shannon occasionally succeeds. (Her meltdown in a suburban mall after her sandwich-maker boyfriend finds out she ate “another man’s sandwich” is just plain hilarious.)
Shannon’s performance is similar to her previous quirky roles in movies like “Superstar” and “Talladega Nights.” She’s become an expert in convincingly portraying an overbearing mother with bad taste in men. However, even with Shannon’s veteran status, the show doesn’t muster up the laughs to hold its own while being sandwiched between “My Name is Earl” and “The Office.” “Kath & Kim” has to quickly redeem itself before it’s dropped from NBC’s lineup. Its peculiar female characters deserve praise when many female characters on TV are generic and stereotypical. Unfortunately, Blair’s lackluster performance, along with mediocre writing, stops the show from receiving the success it deserves.
If nothing else, the show is worth watching to see Selma Blair show off her new muffin top while stuffing herself with a corn dog.