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Call me ... unimpressed

Call Me Kat is a new sitcom produced by The Big Bang Theory’s Mayim Bialik and Jim Parsons.  It’s a take-off on a British sitcom and centres around a woman who chucked it all to open a cat café.  But it’s no Big Bang Theory.

Sitcoms are more often than not, a hotbed of extreme characters you’d never meet in the real world.  Sure, we like to say our friend is just like Seinfeld’s Kramer or our co-worker is a Phoebe Buffay clone.  But really, these people rarely exist.

That’s why we like to watch them on the occasional sitcom.  Unfortunately, Call Me Kat has but one somewhat outlandish character:  Kat, who regularly breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the audience.  It’s a little odd, but so did House of Cards’ Frank Underwood and even Saved By the Bell’s Zack Morris.  So what exactly has Kat done that is so “out there”?

She quit her successful career teaching math to start her own business.  (Big deal.)  At 39, she’s single and quite alright with it.  (Say it isn’t so!)  And in the first episode, she kicked her ex-crush in the face and brought her gay, 65-year-old, 4’11” employee as her “boyfriend” to a wedding.  (Haven’t we all?)

So if Kat is our wild child for the show, audiences will be disappointed.  She’s definitely no Amy Farrah Fowler but she is relaxed and totally relatable.

I was more shocked by Swoosie Kurtz as her mother.  The scene-stealing icon has always had impeccable comedic timing.  She’s just fun to watch.  Usually.  At 75, her surgically-lifted face isn’t fooling anyone despite her forehead being stretched so tight and wide she looks like a hydrocephalic puppy with an expanding head and shrinking body.

Plus her character is written like a stereotypical society ol’ bitty.  That’s not the Swoosie audiences know and love.

Meanwhile, Cheyenne Jackson is pretty to look at as Kat’s former high school crush.  And we’ve got two black characters hovering in the background waiting for something to do.  But thus far, it’s all about Kat.

In the pilot, she discusses how difficult it is to be single at a wedding where you’ve got no one to share private chats, dirty jokes, or the occasional chicken dance.  So why should Kat only be allowed to bring a “plus one” if it’s a serious boyfriend?  (Yes, that was the bride’s rule.)

Watching, I had to wonder:  Are these the little nuggets of life lessons we’ll get each week amid the various felines and song-and-dance routines?  And yes, according to previews, there will be regular song-and-dance.  So expect more people getting accidentally kicked in the face.  (As a former dancer with a chipped tooth, I can tell you that it happens.)

I’m going to give Call Me Kat another chance.  It had its moments.  And I honestly like Kat for her complete lack of lunacy.  But the show needs more from its supporting cast.  After all, even The Big Bang Theory would have sputtered out without its ensemble.