Kath and Kim around the world

The globalisation of TV programs and their consequent success or failure is a result of how they’ve been culturally translated for different global markets. TV as we know it today has relied on the export and import of program formats and it’s no secret that Hollywood has had immense success with this. A lot of TV programs shown on Australian TV have been imported from America, but little did I know that many of these programs originated in other countries. Even Australian reality TV shows such as ‘Deal or No Deal’, ‘Funniest Home Videos’ ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and ‘Big Brother’ didn’t originate in our lovely country – they are simply adaptations of the original program.

Although these programs were granted success, it is due to successful adaptation and translation of the program to be applicable to a new cultured audience; this is often more difficult when it comes to translating drama or comedy programs. For example, ‘Desperate Housewives’ originated in Hollywood and has been widely successful and sustained popularity in over 200 countries, with adaptations in several countries reflecting cultural traditions and values. Whereas Australia’s comedy ‘Kath and Kim’ was hugely successful in its homeland, so much so that the lovely ladies released a film, but when licensed to be adapted in America, the audience just didn’t catch on. The cultural translation of television shows is notably seen through the American remake as it is seen as being ironised out for American audiences because they are used to the perfect television stars but in this, lose the irony that the originals boast.

In examining Kath and Kim, it fair to say that it’s difficult for Australian TV programs and ideas to compete with other industries such as Hollywood which evidently holds a position as a dominant flow in the global television market. It is through the inclusion of local acts and personalities of each country’s version of a program that it becomes localised and the content is more likely to be well received, attracting an international audience. So, it can be said that importing international television programs may be attributed with success when common cultural meaning and identity is established, or the TV format is licensed and therefore may be appropriately adapted to translate to the culture of the audience.


Turnbull, S (2008) ‘It’s Like They Threw a Panther in the Air and Caught It in Embroidery’: Television Comedy in
Translation’ Metro Magazine Issue 159

Turnbull, S. 2010, “The long tail of mother and son: the transnational career of an Australian situation comedy”, Media International Australia incorporating Culture and Policy, no. 134, pp. 96.

Turnbull, S (2004) ‘Look at Moiye, Kimmie, look at moiye’: Kath and Kim an dthe Australian comedy of taste’ Media International Australia incorporating Culture and Policy No 113, November pp 98 – 109


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