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The Katering Show: sharper than ever

Television

YouTube hit “The Katering Show” is back with a new online series, taking aim at everything from raw food to on-screen diversity. There’s even a “loving” send-up of Barossa foodie Maggie Beer.

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Writers and performers Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan have plenty of experience in the world of comedy, having appeared on and written for a wide range of TV projects, many on the ABC.

But it wasn’t until their 2015 web series The Katering Show that the duo had the chance to create something entirely in their own comedic voices for a broad audience.

In The Katering Show, subtitled “the journey of an intolerable foodie and a food intolerant”, they lampoon the latest food, kitchen and diet trends.

The series is a parody of cooking shows, with the pair playing fictionalised (one hopes) versions of themselves. Kate McCartney has all kinds of food intolerances while the always-perky, energetic but long-suffering Kate McLennan does her best to find ways that her friend can get in on the thrills of foodie culture, intolerances and all.

The first series, released last year, clearly struck a nerve with audiences. While it didn’t become the world’s biggest viral hit, it performed very strongly (the Thermomix episode now has almost 2 million views), made headlines, and found a devoted audience.

For the second season, released last week, ABC has come on as a producer and is distributing the episodes via their free streaming service iview.

And things have only become more sharp in the second series: in one episode they try out the paleo, raw food and 5:2 death cults (diets). There’s even a “body issue”, a pointed barb at Annabel Crabb’s Kitchen Cabinet with Scott Morrison, and an episode in which they try to make things more diverse, because “along with porn, cooking shows are a pillar of onscreen diversity”.

Nothing is sacred: not even the foodie Barossa queen Maggie Beer, who is sent up in a loving but tough parody.

While their subjects are very familiar, middle-of-the-road, white Australia, their approach and sensibility is unique – they’re harshly cynical about the industry they’re tackling and constantly self-deprecating.

Major networks and TV production companies around the world have always struggled somewhat in finding a place for and taking a risk on untested and unorthodox comedic voices. But in recent years, web series have proven strong fodder for ideas for the big players in the TV world. Producers and executives are able to see what’s connecting with audiences – and what isn’t – without taking any of the initial risk.

What’s particularly notable is how traditionally male-dominated networks are recognising just how lucrative brave female-led comedy can be.

One of TV’s most critically acclaimed comedies of the last decade, Broad City, started its life as a web series before executive producer Amy Poehler and network Comedy Central came on board to develop the show into a full series.

And Netflix recently commissioned a series about Colleen Ballinger’s YouTube celebrity alter-ego Miranda Sings. The character was developed by Ballinger in 2008 through some very low-fi YouTube videos filmed on a webcam, poking fun at all the amateur singers posting dreadful videos of themselves online. Miranda has developed substantially and become much quirkier since then and her videos have now been viewed almost 1 billion times.

Whether the Netflix series, titled Haters Back Off, is a stretch too far for this quirky character is still to be seen. But Miranda’s following is massive, so it’s unsurprising that Netflix wants to bring her across to its service.

Thankfully, ABC is keeping The Katering Show in the format that it truly belongs – a web series. The episodes are just 10 minutes each and, while that’s the perfect length for this set-up, it remains pretty addictive viewing in this new season.

Foodie culture keeps expanding, so it doesn’t feel like The Katering Show will run out of targets anytime soon. Here’s hoping the ABC doesn’t just invest in a third season but is open to whatever other ideas McCartney and McLennan might come forward with.

This article was first published on The Daily Review.

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