Look at moi: Kath & Kim lost in translation

After almost a decade of filling Australian households with laughter 2008 saw Gina Riley and Jane Turner take the leap and serve as executive producers on the American version of Kath & Kim starring Selma Blair and Molly Shannon. Lets face it – it was a sad and sorry flop. The American version of Kath and Kim misses the mark so badly that it’s barely recognizable as a distant cousin to the original. A successful translation is one that adopts local culture/humour – something that the ill conceived American version did not.

The beauty of Kath and Kim is in the familiarity- it’s our national comedy, celebrating urban Australia. The storylines follow the characters’ day-to-day lives, and document their personal struggles and the banality of their achievements and aspirations. Kath and Kim satirises the mother-daughter relationship and the habits and values of modern suburban Australians, and emphasises the kitsch and superficial elements of contemporary society, particularly the traditional working class which has progressed to a level of affluence (or “effluence” as Kath would say) which previous generations had been unable to achieve.

They visit our local places Westfield Fountain Gate, IKEA, Target, and various local restaurants. The mock our favourite television shows  including Big Brother and Australian Idol. They make statements about the current state Australian politics and their gaudy, out-dated fashion sense satirizes everything that is bad in ordinary, every day Australian fashion – theres no Collette Dinnigan or Jen Hawkins costume designing/modeling, just bad fake tans, hideous perms and the occasional slip of a g-string above Kims pink velour tracksuit. They love our celebrities including Kylie Minogue and Shane Warne and grasp onto Australian traditions and events including Carols in the Domain.

The mis-pronunciations and malprosim of the regular characters have become a part of the average Australian vernacular, saying “Look at moi” or “It’s noice, its different and its unusual” will often receive a decent chuckle among any Australian. Because it’s us. It’s both embracing, and making fun of everything it is to be a regular Australian. Its not highly produced or highly dramatized – its familiar and relatable and that’s what we love about it.

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