Kath & Kim
September 25, 2004 6:56 PM   Subscribe

For the Australians: What's the deal with Kath & Kim? Are they supposed to be stereotypes or parodies of typical Australians? from a certain place? of a certain class? (they're showing it on Trio--a cable network here) And--what's a hornbag?
posted by amberglow to Media & Arts (34 answers total)
They're a parody of your typical Australian lower-class suburban bogan. It's set in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria, an area that isn't universally known for it's scholars, or it's wealth.

A lot of the humour is uniquely Australian, and highly localised, as you may have already picked up... it's odd that it's getting screened overseas, really.

It's a reasonably popular show over here, as it gives most of the middle-class an excuse to laugh at those below them. And the reason it's so popular is because it's so hideously ACCURATE. There really are people like that in Australia -- there are MANY people like that, come to think of it.

Also, a hornbag is a self-perceived epitome of sexuality.
posted by cheaily at 7:41 PM on September 25, 2004

ahhhh! thanks cheaily. They seem more like parodies than accurate portrayals tho. (but then i guess Rosanne seemed different to you guys than to us, if you got that show)
posted by amberglow at 7:44 PM on September 25, 2004

I'm an American expat but as near as I can tell from three years living in Oz, they're definitely a parody of a specific stereotype. Namely, middle-class Melbourne suburban-types. When it premiered here a couple years ago there were some complaints that the actresses - who are actually educated, urban types - were being mean-spirited and mocking in their portrayal. Most folks seem to feel it's pretty accurate, though.

As for hornbag, it doesn't seem to have worked its way into the Macquarie Dictionary of Slang yet, but from context, Kim is saying that she's a horny, slutty, desirable, up-for-it kinda girl. It's not something that a person would normally call themselves, which is why it's funny...

(I can't wait til the Americans get to the netball episodes and get all confused. I should start researching the sport so I can answer the inevitable questions.)
posted by web-goddess at 7:46 PM on September 25, 2004

Do Melbourne (or Melbourne suburban) people get mocked more than others? Are they very different from other Australians? (i'm very clueless on the differences and stereotypes there.) And--is there a reason for the obvious wigs? (they don't look real at all)
posted by amberglow at 7:48 PM on September 25, 2004

web-goddess: I can handle the netball questions if you want. From having a sister that's played for 10 years, and a mother who's coached almost as long.... eeegh. I know more about netball than any man should.

amberglow: there is no one definition of someone from Melbourne. I know that Australia's got a tiny population, but that doesn't preclude it from some level of diversity! ;)

The group being parodied are from the outer south-eastern suburbs. Generally, they tend to be "tradies" (builders, etc) truck drivers, hairdressers, check-out chicks, or (for the ladies) housewives. Their cultural roots are firmly embedded in popular TV and Radio, and are more likely to name their offspring "Tayeiasha" or "Bryttney".

Their dialect is also slightly unique, as the show demonstrates... "Look at moi", etc. They seem to 'go up' at the end of every statement (I'm not a linguist, so excuse the laymans terms).

They're the modern commoners. Everyone knows someone like that, and more people are similar to them than dissimilar (even though some would shy away from admitting that).

The wigs... I have no idea. I guess it's a slight exaggeration of the stereotype.

And, yeah... I don't think many of us down here got why Rosanne was supposed to be funny. ;)
posted by cheaily at 8:02 PM on September 25, 2004

I was wondering if it was like our southern stereotypes, or trailer trash, or rednecks, etc...
(and they're planning the mother's wedding as i type this)

I'm loving the short fat friend--she just said they're putting her on full-spectrum placebos for her hypochondria. : >

One more question: do people there really say "RE:" in conversation?
posted by amberglow at 8:12 PM on September 25, 2004

It is and it isn't... bogans share some common traits with rednecks and trailer trash, but they've got enough differences to distinguish. There's scales.

The idea of 'trailer trash' isn't really one that would fit within the Australian psyche, as the concept of someone living out of a caravan when they're NOT on holidays is a bit foreign. People usually manage to find a cheap place to rent, or live in housing commission flats. Or, hit the streets.

And... yes. Sadly, some do say "RE:" in conversation. Everything you see in Kath and Kim is true, or grounded in truth. Some of it may be an exaggeration, but like all stereotypes, there's always some truth behind it.
posted by cheaily at 8:31 PM on September 25, 2004

It's interesting to watch, but not really that funny (i guess i'm learning bad things about Australians, so that's kinda fun). ; >

It's so rare to even see an Australian sitcom at all. Thanks all! Oh, what are those things they're always eating? hotdogs? sausages? They're red, and finger-sized.
posted by amberglow at 8:47 PM on September 25, 2004

"Little boys", aka Cocktail Frankfurters. Miniature hot-dogs.
posted by cheaily at 8:51 PM on September 25, 2004

thanks again.

(you guys are just freaks down there--like us, but in different ways)
posted by amberglow at 9:00 PM on September 25, 2004

Oh, any other good shows to watch out for?
posted by amberglow at 9:06 PM on September 25, 2004

Not really. Most Australian TV sucks.
posted by cheaily at 9:21 PM on September 25, 2004

aw. How come?
posted by amberglow at 9:29 PM on September 25, 2004

Because most of the populace is quite content to watch Friends and Sex and the City and CSI all the time, so the Australian industry lacks the support to develop new shows. It was a complete shock that Kath & Kim turned out to be such a success. Most of the local shows are soap operas, melodramas, or cop dramas. This is a huge reason that a lot of prominent Australian entertainers are against the free trade agreement with the US, because it doesn't make any provisions to protect what little local industry is left.
posted by web-goddess at 9:46 PM on September 25, 2004

Can't you guys do what Canada did, and mandate that a certain percentage has to be domestic content? I think that worked for them.

Sorry we're good at tv tho--if you guys didn't watch all the shit we send out, they'd stop airing it there, no?

I've seen Neighbors in London, but we don't get it here. It did give the world Kylie Minogue and Natalie Imbruglia, right?
posted by amberglow at 9:55 PM on September 25, 2004

amberglow: a certain percentage of what is broadcast IS australian content. we have the same sort of regulation as canada does.

that doesn't always mean that it's any good, or that people watch it. it's the same with broadcasting local content on radio. most of the popular stations have their late-night 'local music' shows which is there to simply make the quota.

it's a sorry state of affairs, because there are talented writers, producers and actors in this country... i've seen them. but most of the television-watching populace are po-faced intellectual retards who don't WANT to see something clever or new. they'd rather just sit down to the latest 'reality' tv, or watch re-runs of Friends.

*end rant*
posted by cheaily at 1:29 AM on September 26, 2004

Hey cheaily -- have you ever heard of "stoppers"? As in, "My father works as a stopper."

I once fell for this and, frankly, would like to know how perverse the Australian sense of humor is.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:04 AM on September 26, 2004

C_D: Can't say I have, sorry.
posted by cheaily at 8:15 AM on September 26, 2004

Well, our good sitcoms are all gone or will be soon--the form is going thru another slump (like it did pre-Cosby in the early 80s). Maybe that'll make more room for Australian stuff?
posted by amberglow at 8:29 AM on September 26, 2004

I highly recommend checking out Frontline ...a classic Australian comedy series about current affairs TV... in a deadpan mockumentary style well before The Office.
posted by arha at 8:53 AM on September 26, 2004

An Australian backpacker I met in England told me once that his father worked as a stopper. "What's a stopper?" I asked innocently. "Well, Sydney has a big problem with kangaroos, you see? They cross traffic all the time and cause big accidents. So the government hires 'stoppers' to control traffic and let or prevent the 'roos from crossing."

"Really!? That's amazing!"

"No, not really, you idiot."

posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:29 AM on September 26, 2004

If you can get The Games, you'll piss yourself laughing. It was a fantastic send-up of the Aussie's preparation for the Olympics. The greatest laugh of all is that much of the bumbling in the comedy ended up also happening in real life! 99-yard dash tracks, stuff like that.

Aussies: if you can snag "Trailer Park Boys," do so. Canadian humour.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:29 AM on September 26, 2004

Frontline is fantastic! My favourite episode was the Pauline Hanson episode about stereotypes. In a planning room they listed all the current affairs shows that they'd done... "aborigine... drunks sleeping in the streets on rotting matresses", "asians... stealing our land and driving badly", "filipino... brides" (the assumption that a filipino wife was bought). Their show created these hateable stereotypes, and then had the gall to attack Pauline Hanson for repeating the same ('we created the swamp that Pauline Hanson crawled out of'). IRL Pauline Hanson had this famous interview where the interviewer called her xenophobic... "please explain?" was her response. People jumped on this to bash her, and made fun of her for working in a Fish N' Chip shop. There are better reasons to hate Pauline Hanson than that... it was a great show.

Also I can't spell it, so I can't find it, but McCarliff Tonight (or something like that) was usually quite good.

ps. dropbear.
posted by holloway at 4:30 PM on September 26, 2004

Ah, see, I had a couple people try the old "dropbear" line on me when I first moved out here, but luckily my boyfriend had prepared me for that one. :)
posted by web-goddess at 5:11 PM on September 26, 2004

spill. what's dropbear?
posted by amberglow at 6:19 PM on September 26, 2004

Oh, hey, also y'all want to seek out The Newsroom and Made in Canada. Delightful, cynical send-ups of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and government funding for Canadian programming.

Dropbears are an Aussie marsupial. Unwary hikers are subject to unexpected attacks, as these heavy-bottomed bears release from a high limb and bounce off the head of their prey. They then ravage the poor beast as it lies unconscious or stunned.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:31 PM on September 26, 2004

lol--no way. nice try tho : >
posted by amberglow at 7:26 PM on September 26, 2004

Hey, someone should email the author of the sexual chart in the Blue FPP and have them add "dropbear"!
posted by billsaysthis at 8:47 PM on September 26, 2004

Oh, any other good shows to watch out for?

John Safran vs. God is brilliant, as was his Musical Jamboree.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:25 PM on September 26, 2004

definitely the games. if it ever gets shown o/s.
posted by kv at 11:49 PM on September 26, 2004

Do Melbourne (or Melbourne suburban) people get mocked more than others?

As a Queenslander, I can tell you that Melbournians get a bit of stick on the basis that they're "uptight squares" and "they can't drive", but that's about it. With a few notable exceptions, Australians don't seem to have the same regional comedy stereotypes as other large countries. except for Tasmanians who, as we all know, are a bunch of inbred two-headed weirdos

As far as comedy television goes, you can't beat 'The Games' or 'Frontline' for po-faced satire, and if you're trying to come to grips with Australian race relations, you might want to check out 'Pizza'. Not exactly highbrow entertainment, but it's the only tv show you'll ever see with an Indian cab driver (with a broad ocker accent) telling a blue-haired old woman - "You anglo boilers have no fucking sense of humour, y'know?"
posted by backOfYourMind at 5:17 AM on September 27, 2004

I'll look out for them...maybe there are torrents?
posted by amberglow at 9:42 PM on September 27, 2004

Do Melbourne (or Melbourne suburban) people get mocked more than others?

Every city/state has it's thing, like any other country - queenslanders get mocked for being 20 years behind the times (it's so relaxed and slow up there, see?), sydneysiders get mocked for being stuckup bastards trying not to be "australian" but "international", tasmanians are miracles of incest and melbournians get stuck with the whingy "mexican" tag (as in "south of the border").

Remember the original aussie housewife, Dame Edna Everage, came from mythical suburban melbourne too!

I think that most australian comedians come from/ evolve in melbourne as it is an arts/ theatre centre for australia, which is why it is an easy target - but the stereotypes they play with are fundamentally australian.
posted by elphTeq at 12:20 AM on October 1, 2004

oops! didn't realise this post was 3 days old, sorry
posted by elphTeq at 12:21 AM on October 1, 2004

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