Culture

‘Get Krack!n’ Is A Gloriously Bonkers Evolution For The Women Of ‘The Katering Show’

Enter The Kates' brand-new technicolour nightmare.

Kates McCartney and McLennan, hosts of the insanely popular webseries The Katering Show and brand-new TV comedy Get Krack!n, have done something the Australian cultural landscape makes near impossible: they’ve succeeded as female comedians on Aussie TV.

Beginning on YouTube, where the first series of the duo’s parody cooking show aired, The Kates have graduated rapidly from a cult internet secret to local legends. The widely enjoyed The Katering Show caught the eye of programmers at ABC’s iView, who commissioned a second series of the show to premiere on Aunty’s streaming platform.

Now The Katering Show is Australian TV’s all-time most viewed digital series, and so the comedic duo have been given a full half-hour to fill. And here we are, with Get Krack!n, their delightfully deranged “sassy swipe” at the soulless, absurd, overly commercialised world of breakfast TV.

The Kates have marched into the public consciousness on sheer talent alone, with the success of their first series largely down to their intense onscreen chemistry and the show’s faultless joke-delivery format.

Get Krack!n continues their evolution, pressing harder on themes first established in The Katering Show: the vapid, bizarre condition of commercial television (a world from which they are still blissfully divorced), as well as the difficulty and discomfort of being a woman on the Australian screen.

The Kates’ Technicolour Nightmare

Recently I rewatched both seasons of The Katering Show, introducing them to a friend who (incredibly) had never seen the series before. As we snorted and chuckled our way through the series, I suddenly wondered what world The Kates existed in. It seemed to me that the universe in which The Katering Show took place was like some robust, high-octane version of our world: bolder, badder, brighter and more brazen.

If anything, Get Krack!n confirms that theory, and adds a disturbing new element: here are women forced to conduct themselves in a truly absurd fashion in order to fit on the technicolour nightmare that is Australian commercial television. Or, at least, it feels like that’s the joke: our heroes stuck inside the box, performing the degrading act of being what Aussie culture considers a “palatable” female presenter.

It’s the social commentary underpinning both Katering and Get Krack!n that gives these comedies, which could be misread as frivolous, an extra bit of heft. Sure, if the shows were just brilliant comedic works with nothing to tell but jokes, they would still be solid laugh factories churning out jollies. But beneath the bright, gut-busting absurdity is a deeper and more radical commentary on the role women occupy in Australian media.

So, in Katering and Krack’n, McCartney and McLennan get to do both. They provide levity in the form of, say, single-shot gags about resting an electric kettle on its base, or trying to tear toilet paper off an unevenly ripped roll; and they also get us thinking about the media we consume, who creates it and what it’s there for.

Women On The Box

I suppose the madness of Get Krack!n is directly correlated to the madcap spelling of the show’s title; the series is just as bonkers as that errant exclamation point. The Kates know this, as McCartney proclaims during the premiere, “We don’t just not know about food, we not know about everything”.

Set in the oppressively vivid studio set of their 3am breakfast show, McLennan and McCartney scamper around, clad each episode in outrageous cocktail dresses modelled after Marchesa red carpet knock offs. One of my favourite jokes is still the absurd arm flaps/sleeves on McLennan’s green dress, which she is constantly adjusting during the first episode. In the second episode, she and McCartney are wearing identical skin-tight turquoise dresses with napkin-fold hems. As I exclaimed to my friend, on seeing the green dress, “What is she wearing!” I sheepishly remembered all the times I’d asked that of a real-life television presenter on a commercial network — the women who wear outfits of unparalleled bizarreness/impracticality on a virtually exclusive basis.

The calculated, clever way in which the Kates take aim at women’s representation on commercial television (and, tbh, just in the world) is amplified ten-fold in this new series. The duo invite myriad sheister guests on the show to peddle ridiculous products to their presumed (fake) female audience for Get Krack!n. Radical theatre artist Candy Bowers appears as Dr Mariam Margoylesles, a wellness “doctor” on-set to spruik the benefits of turmeric, which Bowers explains “smashes the cancer” and “vaporises the depression” if ingested in a “smoothie, or a this thing [a latte]”. Emily Taheny appears as a Marie Kondo expert, poking incisive holes in Kondo’s “does it spark joy?” method of de-cluttering your life.

And Charlotte Nicdao (Please Like Me) joins the Kates in the second episode as “Scarlett the intern”, who delivers a stunning news announement: “In the news, a woman was shot in the face by a man. Another woman was killed by a man. In other news, a woman has been murdered. A woman has been stabbed. A woman has been thrown off a bridge while being stabbed. Another person was killed; it was a woman.”

The show knows just how to punch up to make a point about women’s place in the world, as when Michelle Lim Davidson joins the Kates for a boldly funny segment spruiking an “East Asian Blepharoplasty” as she explains, “some eyelids are wrong”. Lim Davidson, who coos “My eyes aren’t naturally this large… because I’m Asian,” calls the grizzly surgery a “long lasting solution to the permanent problem of being ethnic.” McCartney and McLennan, who are so acutely aware of their privilege as white women on TV that in one episode they self-describe as “whitemares”, have made strong moves to keep their feminist series intersectional with a cohort of diverse female talent.

And, though men are not frequently included on the show, when they are, the jokes about them are sharp and efficient, as when plastic surgeon Dr Keith is introduced as: “must be supervised by nurse when he sees female patients”. Or, when Briggs makes a brief cameo as the “incredibly beautiful… sweet, sweet” weather girl Bek Jut. Or when McLennan mutters, during a characteristic stuff-up, “I knew we shouldn’t have taken a punt on a male director”.

In among the incisive social commentary, “where everyone keeps an open mind as two women talk to each other for half an hour,” are simply good gags. The main part of their stage set, “couch island”, is impossible for them to ascend in high heels, their infomercials spruik useless “single-use appliances” that can cook just one egg “very hard” in seven and a half minutes, and the Get Krack!n mugs don’t even have proper handles. The jokes are razor-sharp, delivered flawlessly by the Kates and their supporting ensemble — even the surreal and popular interstitial gags, imported from The Katering Show, feel more robust here.

When the Kates first appeared on the digital comedy scene, they felt like game changers simply because they spent eight minutes of high-value production time delivering solid jokes you just had to share online with your friends. Now, in a new space — on traditional television, in a broader half-hour format — they still feel game-changing, but for more exciting reasons. They’re still ace comedians, the jokes are still flawless and the format is still solid, but there’s an increased depth to The Kates that I greatly admire.

Get Krack!n is a far cry from the joke (made by McCartney) that “sometimes it feels like we’re creating content with no real thought towards an end game”. On the contrary, every shot, every facial expression, every line of the show is meticulously crafted to deliver undeniable jokes with a strong social conscience. This is TV comedy at its very best.

You can watch Get Krack!n on Wednesdays at 9.30pm on The ABC, or you can stream recent episodes of the series on ABC iView.

Matilda Dixon-Smith is Junkee’s Staff Writer. She tweets at @mdixonsmith.