A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Call Me Kat is a sitcom starring Mayim Bialik as the show's title character, a 39-year-old woman who's happily single and just opened a cat cafe. The show is a remake of the English series Miranda, and one of the executive producers is Jim Parsons, who starred with Bialik on The Big Bang Theory. The show is light on mature content; cursing is infrequent ("ass," "hell," "damn"), sexuality is mostly confined to talk of dating, flirting, and kissing; there are scenes of characters drinking in bars and at parties, but no one acts drunk. Positive messages include friendly and supportive relationships and a main character who enjoys her life and herself despite being a bit unconventional. There's also a positive and unusual representation of a gay man, Leslie Jordan's Phil, a sixtysomething with a Southern accent, sweet nature, and silly sense of humor. It's hard to escape, though, the staleness of Kat's singledom being used as a primary source of humor.
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What's the story?
CALL ME KAT's Kat (Mayim Bialik) is leaning into her status as a single woman in her late 30s, so much so that she opens a cat cafe. Is she afraid people are going to see her as a sad cat lady? No, she tells her concerned mom Sheila (Swoosie Kurtz): she's going to be a rad cat lady instead. Adapted from the British series Miranda by executive producer and Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons and starring his former television wife, CALL ME KAT also stars Leslie Jordan as Kat's cafe employer Phil and Cheyenne Jackson as Max, Kat's former college crush who's just arrived back in town -- oh, and he's single, too.
Is it any good?
It's difficult to watch this series without the overwhelming feeling that you just want to save Mayim Bialik from this fate. The star is charm personified, knows how to land a joke, and, as many people found out when she did a star-making turn as a young Bette Midler in 1988's Beaches, she sure can sing (and in Call Me Kat, she does). But mired here as she is in the land of hacky sitcom jokes (and inexplicably amused laugh-trackers), her prodigious talent seems like a waste instead of a gift. First and worst: Kat talks to the audience, which we learn in the first moments of the first episode, when Kat does a spit take before welcoming us to the show (the first of two spit takes in 30 seconds, might we add), and then continues to break the fourth wall in asides when she's addressing other characters, to the extent that it's hard to tell at times exactly who she's talking to.
Second, though the show is absolutely stuffed to the gills with talent (TV stalwarts Leslie Jordan, Swoosie Kurtz, and Cheyenne Jackson as Kat's love interest), the characters are unrealistic: Kurtz's mom is overwhelmingly concerned with her daughter's single status; Jordan is Kat's adorably ironic employee; Jackson is a hunk to swoon over. Finally, the sitcom's premises are so stale as to be practically historic: Kat has two dates in one night; Kat has to pretend Jordan's Phil is her boyfriend to get a plus-one at a fancy occasion. As much talent as there is here both behind and in front of the camera, it's a shame to see it go to waste on a sitcom that might have been fun in the 1990s, but just reads as gimmicky now.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the premise for Call Me Kat. Why is it funny that a woman is unmarried and in her late '30s? Why is it additionally funny that she has an affinity for cats? What do you think about these kinds of jokes?
Are stereotypes ever appropriate? Although sitcom writers often use stereotypes to create humor (and sometimes call attention to intolerance), do they ever go too far?
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