TUBE TALK With John T. Forde: White Trash Paradise
White Trash Paradise
Like most Wellingtonian emigrés, I’m only one or two steps up the evolutionary ladder from small town white trash. Despite my snazzily-cut trousers from Mandatory and a daily trim soy latte, I, too, once drank Ribena out of plastic mugs, danced to Kylie at school discos and endured 80s polyester-cotton leisurewear.
Which is why TV1’s new Australian comedy, Kath & Kim, (Mondays, 8pm) isn’t just a welcome comic relief to a humour-free spring TV schedule – it’s also a timely reminder that, try as we may, there’s no getting away from our roots. Especially not with your roots are burrowed at the bottom of a spectacularly bad frizzy poodle perm, like Kath’s.
Kath (Jane Turner) is a perky 40something “empty nester” who’s enjoying a new, frighteningly physical relationship with Kel, a “purveyor of fine meats” (and, in Kath’s words, “a big hunka spunk”). Her wicker furniture-filled home is a temple to her daily home exercise regime of Pump and Pilates – the Glade Air Spray serenity broken only by Kel knocking over the salt and pepper shakers in his attempts to “take her to Paradise” on the dining room table.
Trampling unexpectedly through Kath’s “me time” is Kim (Gina Riley), her spoilt bug-eyed daughter who’s left her husband of three months. “It’s not enough! I wanna be effluent, Mum - EFFLUENT!” “Kim, you ARE effluent!” Kath remonstrates, before hopping into the shower with Kel for a post-breakfast quickie.
Later, Kim, who thinks she’s a size 10 (“Huh! Country Road size 10!” Kath sniffs), gets her second-best friend Sharon, a sports-mad heifer with an eyepatch (the brilliant Magda Szubanski), to stalk her husband Brett. Kim’s convinced her marriage is over, but equally convinced she’s a “hornbag” who deserves better.
Meanwhile, Kath dons her favourite parrot earrings and stretch denim jeans for a romantic dinner with Kel, which turns out to be – onya! - a fabulously tacky marriage proposal in an electronics store. “Kel and I have decided to make our beautiful, sensual relationship a mere formality!” Kath announces proudly. Then she tells Kim to drop a dress size before she can become a bridesmaid.
Australian trash TV is nothing new – after all, we’ve endured Big Brother, Sylvania Waters, The Crocodile Hunter AND Pauline Hanson. But Kath & Kim leaves ‘em all for dead.
Like their best work on The Comedy Company and Fast Forward, Turner and Riley’s writing is hysterically funny and almost cringeingly accurate about Antipodean trash-to-middle-class aspirations. Yet somehow, the satire never seems cruel or malicious.
For all Kath’s scary hot pink leotards, bizarre expressions (“I can feel it in my waters”, she says of her impending wedding) and unholy vowel sounds, she remains delightfully, unstoppably herself. “Yes, I am high maintenance – but I think you gotta be”, she says, trowelling on the rouge, wart remover and breath spray. Kim’s routine seems to consist largely of binge-eating junk food, but she shows promise too.
Good on ya, Kath and Kim. You’re both little Aussie battlers, and you deserve all the hornbags you can get your hands on.