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Pop Culture Rewind: Kath and Kim

In May of 2002, Australia was introduced to its most loved sitcom. It revolves around the mother-daughter relationship of permed empty-nester Kath Day-Knight (Jane Turner) and her lazy, self-obsessed daughter Kim (Gina Riley). I like to think of Kath and Kim as Australia’s Keeping Up with the Kardiashians, but with a more suburban-chic aesthetic and thinner lips. Since its premier, Kath and Kim have become nothing short of household Australian personalities, and their bogan-vogue phrases are parroted again and again. The supporting cast of hilariously droll characters and the string of witty, indulgent plots has, in my eyes, deemed Kath and Kim as Australia’s most iconic TV show.

“Look at moi,” is a phrase everyone and their mother has stretched their lips over at least once in their life. Kath and Kim’s dialogue revels in working-class colloquial fabulousness, Kim classily speaking of “cardonnay” and Kath adoringly referring to her husband Kel as a “great hunk of spunk.” The exaggerated Australian accent, ridiculed and mimicked by the rest of the world, is lovingly celebrated in Kath and Kim, simultaneously laughed with and at by the audience.

There are so many scenes from the show’s four seasons that still make me crack up laughing. When Kim comes home to find that her mother has turned her room into a gym, Kath defends the renovation: “I like to keep myself trim, Kim. Does it make me a 21 KATH AND KIM crim to keep myself trim?” Kath’s rhyme and wordplay never ceases to impress. When she’s in the kitchen holding a cantaloupe, she says “I can’t elope, Kim.” And every appearance of the homewares duo Prue and Trude, their grey bobs shining beneath fluorescent mall lighting, is priceless.

But we can’t forget Kel (Glenn Robbins), Sharon (Magda Szubanski) and Brett (Peter Rowsthorn), the people who keep Kath and Kim from ripping each other apart. Kel’s gelled fringe, and the gold necklace nestled in his chest hairs, certainly peg him as the show’s middle-aged heartthrob. He is – oh la la! – a purveyor of fine meats, and warmly tends to Kath’s every desire and ambition. He’s a supportive, troubleless partner who lets Kath be the best version of herself. Sharon, a sports-enthusiast with a large collection of polo shirts and an undying rash, is Kim’s “second-best friend.” Szubanski’s exceptional portrayal of Sharon always leaves me cry-laughing. Despite Kim’s harsh love towards her, Sharon is always looking out for her best friend: “You look like a fashion victim, Kim.” Compared to the rest of the family, Brett is a lot more reserved. His biggest moments of heat are when he is arguing with Kim – well, when Kim is arguing with him – which is, let’s face it, always. He has a better relationship with his mother-in-law than with his wife, but, ultimately, he never quite does enough to keep Kim happy.

The Kath and Kim universe blew up in 2012 with the release of the feature film Kath and Kimderella, which gave all of us greedy Australians a goold old movie starring our favourite suburbians to hunker down with. In July 2022, it was announced that Kath and Kim will be returning for a one-off special in celebration of their 20th anniversary. Time to pop open the cardonnay! “Alright then, Chardonnay, Chardonnay, you pack of chunts!”

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