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  • Writer's pictureHannah Pearson

Call Me When it Gets Funny

Call it whatever you want, Fox's new show Call Me Kat, fails to deliver the laughs.


Spoilers For: Expectations that the show would be good

Well, shit y’all, it’s 2021 and I’m still stuck inside, watching too much TV. But at least I still have the gem that is Leslie Jordan’s Instagram to put a smile on my face when I need it most. Who doesn’t love LJ? The man has been a character actor in the business for almost four decades and he has added his salty flair to many great shows like Will & Grace, Boston Legal, American Horror Story, and much more. Seriously to the much more, you can’t swing a dead cat on Netflix/Hulu without hitting a show that has been made better by Mr. Jordan.

So I needed a new show and Leslie had been plugging his latest sitcom, Call Me Kat, like a good cast member, so I thought, alright lets check this out. Traditional sitcoms aren’t my jam, at least anything made after 2001, but they still get made so somebody likes them. Call Me Kat (streaming on Hulu) is the kind of show that has any red-blooded small screen aficionado screaming at their TV “WHY DID THIS GET MADE?!?!?”

Alright, the premise: Kat, played by Miyam Bialik, is an almost 40-year old single gal living above a cat cafe, that she owns. She has a pushy mother, played by Swoosie Kurtz, who has made it her life’s mission to get her daughter married. She has two besties, one played by Jordan and the other by Kyla Pratt, who work at her cafe. Oh and there is a hot guy, Cheyenne Jackson, who seems to have nothing going on but he is hot.

The show is a standard product of the Fox sitcom machine, get a couple fading stars that have been collecting dust since their last hit, dust them off and give them lead roles, write a bunch of low-hanging fruit jokes that even your most Christian mother might laugh at, make them trip a few times, on a set that looks faker than a Trump kid’s nose job, and have a live studio audience there to laugh, to let everyone know what they are watching is in fact, suppose to be funny.

Okay, but lots of shows are like this but still seem to do well. Big Bang Theory went on for twelve seasons and Two and a Half Men did well enough to pay Jon Cryer to put up with Charlie Sheen for years. Sitcoms like this have to get made or else Mee-Maw will never take a break from Fox News.

But Call Me Kat isn’t just bad because it’s generic, oh no, it has its own unique pillars, made of piling garbage, to build it’s Castle of Suck.

For starters, Kat breaks the 4th wall constantly and this is a risky move. Why? Because if not done well, or with tact, it comes off cheap and demeaning to the audience, because it is. Writers need to dump a lot of information on people and it’s hard to weave it in an interesting tapestry as the story goes but if you can’t do it, don’t be a writer. And if you do want to break the 4th wall, then make sure your storyteller is charismatic AF and has something interesting to say. Fleabag nailed it, and Malcolm and the Middle, and even Saved By the Bell, but Miyam Bialik just brings the cringe when she looks over at the camera.

While we’re talking about Miyam B, let’s dive further into why she is the other column, building up this trash heap. Her acting in this show is beyond corny, it is a farm at Halloween maze of corniness. Bialik is a graduate of Hokey Sitcom University, where she earned a Ph.D. She plays Kat like a theater kid who won’t stop singing Hamilton show tunes on the bus. The volume of your voice does not make you more interesting!

I watched the entire pilot and didn’t laugh once. Jordan is charming and that brought me relief, but it wasn’t enough. So again, I asked myself why did this get made? A quick google search told me the answer. It’s based on a popular show, Miranda, in the UK. No shock, Hollywood these days isn’t known for being that original. But okay the show is popular there? I know British humor is weird but come on, are lobotomies part of the healthcare package there?

So I watched the pilot of Miranda, which CMK is based on, and I laughed… a lot.

What gives? USA is number one! How could those limeys keep this train wreck on the tracks? Well for starters the Miranda is written by Miranda Hart, who is also the star (hence the name) and she is a writer and comedian. She knows how to make people laugh. Bialik knows how to label my brain but missed the part that detects what’s funny. Hart is also authentically awkward, which is central to the humor of the show and character. Bialik is awkward, trying to be cool, trying to be awkward. It’s super annoying, not endearing.

Another thing that works for the UK version is the camera style and art direction. CMK has that flooded with white light look that feels so unnatural. Miranda feels more real life, and therefore the slapstick bits come off organic and not clunky blocking like in Call Me Kat.

The storyline in Miranda was just better. It didn’t end on a saccharine after-school special lesson like Call Me Kat, seriously someone call Michelle Tanner to tell them to Cut it Out. Miranda had no bow at the end, just one last awkward and hilarious bit to squeeze in before credits.

I could go on and into more detail, but I think I’ve made my point. It doesn’t really matter, neither show is going to stay on my regular rotation. I stepped out of my comfort zone but I need a show about a sadistic serial killer and dead bodies to wash out the taste of schmaltzy and hackney in my mouth. Sorry, Mr. Jordan, I’ll keep watching your IG.

Would you Call it Funny? or Call it a Fail?

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