“Plus One” proves most of Call Me Kat‘s jokes and devices rather grating, and largely just proves that the show should be about Leslie Jordan’s character instead.
This recap of Call Me Kat season 1, episode 1, “Plus One”, contains spoilers. You can check out our spoiler-free season review by clicking these words.
Call Me Kat episode 1, aptly-titled “Plus One”, lays all its cats out in their baskets. It’s a clumsy introduction to the titular Kat, a 39-year-old single woman who, in the wake of her father’s death, ditches her career as a math professor to splurge all her savings on a cat café in Louisville, Kentucky, for reasons that are mysterious to everyone, least of all her worried mother, Sheila, who rightly thinks her daughter is losing it. But it’s also a primer for the show’s throwback ‘80s style, with relentless fourth-wall-breaking narration that is jarring the first time and only gets weirder from there.
The bright spots of Kat’s life and indeed her show are her colleagues, Phil and Randi. The former gets plenty to do when Kat invites him to the vow renewal of her best friend Tara (Vanessa Lachey), which is awkward considering the invite is only really for couples and Phil is a) much older than Kat and b) openly gay. Line dancing ensues. But it’s really intended to make a point about how Kat is treated differently for being lonely and single, which of course she shouldn’t be – until, that is, she’s reunited with her old college crush Max, who has just returned to Louisville after a decade in Europe following a rather convenient break-up.
Naturally, this kind of undermines what I believe to be the show’s essential point, which is that it’s fine for your life to take an unusual path, and you don’t need to be beholden to trite expectations like finding a partner, marrying, and having children. Kat is insistent that she’s more than happy to be a “rad cat lady” until the first whiff of Max sends her near-delirious and kicks all her happily single plans to the curb. He’s such obvious catnip for Kat that I thought the joke might be that she’s a literal cat lady, but I’m sure if that were the case Kat would have turned to camera and told the audience outright.
“Plus One” isn’t funny. As a matter of fact, I laughed just once, right at the end, when Kat accidentally kicked Max in the face, but even that was undermined by how they both promptly broke character and started bowing to the audience in that old-fashioned live-sitcom way. Bizarre. Hopefully, subsequent episodes can do more with the premise and Bialik’s inherent appeal. And seriously, where are all the cats?
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