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Kath & Kim (U.S.)
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 the main characters in this sitcom are an image-obsessed, celebrity-crazed mother/daughter duo who use shopping, junk food, and alcohol to cope with what they see as the harsh realities of their pampered lifestyle. Forty-something Kath is easily manipulated by her spoiled, lazy daughter and makes little effort to force her to face adult responsibilities, instead enabling her dependence by catering to her whiny demands. Frequent references to sexual activity and scenes of alcohol consumption probably won't be new to teens, but they add to the show's iffy messages about the realities of adulthood. If you decide to watch with your teens, be sure to plan for a few reality checks.
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What's the story?
KATH & KIM is an American version of the same-named Australian series in which a mother and her adult daughter wade through the highs and lows of dysfunctional family life. Kath Day (Molly Shannon) is a fortysomething divorcee who's enjoying some alone time now that her only daughter, Kim (Selma Blair), is newly married. In addition to turning Kim's bedroom into a home gym, Kath has a new squeeze, sandwich entrepreneur Phil Knight (John Michael Higgins). But Kath's independence is short-lived: Spoiled, unemployed Kim decides to move home after she becomes disenchanted with marriage when her husband Craig's (Mikey Day) expects her to assume some domestic responsibility. Kath and Kim's resulting tug-of-war relationship is the stuff dysfunction is made of.
Is it any good?
For a character-based comedy like Kath & Kim to succeed, the casting must be spot-on, and Shannon and Blair shine in their respective roles. Blair makes the life of an immature, unambitious high school dropout almost enviable, and viewers may be sucked in to rooting for her in her on again/off again relationship with her new hubby. But it's Shannon who ultimately steals the show, bringing her penchant for fast talk and, well, extroversion to the role of bubbly, irrepressible Kath.
The bottom line? If you enjoy Shannon's style of comedy, you'll love her prominence in this laugh-out-loud series. And while the show has plenty of references to sexual relationships and other mature behavior like drinking, chances are none of it will be too new to teens. Just make sure to do a reality check and remind them that, in the real world (and in your own home), behavior like Kim's isn't likely to be tolerated.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the show's messages. What does this series say about how adults should act? Does it have different messages for different stages of life (early adulthood vs. middle age)? Is any of the show's content relatable to you? If so, what? If a movie or TV show is clearly a comedy, does that relieve it of any responsibility for promoting good messages? Parents and teens can take this opportunity to discuss their own values and expectations of each other.