Saturday, December 2, 2017

American Housewife : "Krampus Katie"

Premiered December 13, 2016

Anna-Kat: Viv is just like Santa. She gives gifts, she volunteers, she even wears the hat.
Katie: No, I'm like Santa. We both have the same body-type, and we make lists of people who've pissed us off.
Anna Kat: You're more like Krampus.
Katie: Who's Krampus?

Christmas is coming, but Katie Otto (Katy Mixon) is fed up with the materialism displayed by residents of Westport, Connecticut.  She doesn't want her kids to get caught up in the "shallowness" of the rich.

Katie's spirits are further dampened when her annoying neighbor Viv (Leslie Bibb) arrives unannounced and gifts Katie with a new Fit Bit.  After critiquing the Ottos' Christmas decorations, Viv tells them she's chairing the school holiday concert.  She needs help setting up and assumes Katie will volunteer to help.

Santa Viv brings Katie "the gift of potential" -- a Fitbit.  Katie does not appreciate the implications of this gift.
Anna-Kat (Julia Butters) says Viv is just like Santa, since she brings gifts, volunteers and wears the Santa hat.  She compares her mother to Krampus, the "half-goat, half-demon who punishes children during the holidays."

Anna-Kat worries their Elf on the Mantle (it's half the price of the one you're thinking of) is watching and will tell Santa that Katie is acting like Krampus. 

Of course, this would also mean no gifts for the entire family.    To make matters worse,  Katie accidentally sets the elf on fire and Anna-Kat witnesses it.

 Not wanting to be seen as a Krampus, Katie agrees to help Viv decorate for the concert, hoping it will make things right with the elf and Anna-Kat.

The older kids Taylor (Meg Donnelly) and Oliver (David DiMaggio)  find unwrapped gifts and tell their parents they're not satisfied with their presents.

Their father Greg (Diedrich Bader) decides to teach them a lesson by taking them to visit lonely senior citizens at a nursing home.  Unfortunately, the kids learn the wrong lesson when a woman mistakes them for her grand kids and gives them $100 cash.

Katie goes to the school to help Viv decorate for the concert.  Viv is even more obnoxious than usual and is driving Katie crazy.

Viv deems Katie's present wrapping skills to be sub-par
She wonders if Viv and the other housewives are as happy as they appear.  Her friends Doris (Ali Wong) and Angela (Carly Hughes) think the other housewives are creepy and tell Katie acting happy is against her nature.

Will Katie survive the festive season or will Krampus get the better of her?

J.A. Morris says:
This is a solid episode of American Housewife.  We see the Otto family grappling with difficulties many of us face during the holiday season.  Most of us would like to think of ourselves as being more like Santa than Krampus.  And I would like to think few of are like Krampus.  However, as Katie says, sometimes you have to be Krampus to get through the holiday season. 

Leslie Bibb gives a good performance here as "Santa Viv."  She makes Viv's over-the-top manic happiness believable.

Some notes about the actors:

This is the second time this blog has featured a Christmas episode that includes Deidrich Bader.  We reviewed the fantastic holiday episode of Batman:The Brave and The Bold a few Christmases ago.  Bader provided the voice of Batman in that episode.

Also, during the nursing home scenes, Greg meets a resident named Mr. Montez.  He's played by Hal Linden, who many will remember from his years playing the title role on Barney Miller.

This episode is available to watch on Amazon streaming and on iTunes.

"Krampus Katie" is very funny and also manages to make some points about consumerism and how we often feel the need to fake a cheerful attitude during the holiday season.  I won't call it a classic, but it's recommended.

J.A. Morris' rating:

3 and a half candy canes

RigbyMel says: 

I enjoy the American Housewife series quite a bit and "Krampus Katie" is a fun holiday themed episode.   I find it interesting that the long standing European tradition surrounding Krampus -- who accompanies St. Nick and traditionally punishes bad children, seems to be gaining traction in the U.S.  of late to the point that a mainstream ABC sitcom references it.

Santa Viv is excited to "get her hands on" Katie.  Katie is ... less enthused.
As J.A. Morris points out, the difficulties faced by Katie and her family are recognizable ones that many of us face during the Christmas season.  The fact that the Ottos live in a wealthy suburb of Connecticut, but are not wealthy themselves is a regular feature of the show, and the holidays have a way of bringing these sorts of disparities to a head, and the show does a good job of highlighting the humor inherent in some of the more materialistic aspects of the season. 

There's also some nice interplay between Greg's generally more positive outlook on the season and his well meaning attempts to teach his entitled older kids a Christmas lesson -- which of course backfires spectacularly and keeps backfiring. 

The Krampus connection here makes a good counterpoint to the competitive materialism on show around Westport.   When Viv designates Katie to take some presents to "less fortunate" neighbors,  Katie agrees in hopes of getting on Anna-Kat's (and the Elf on the Mantle's) good side and the whole family goes to discover that the "less fortunate" family is only unfortunate in that they've had their overseas assets frozen and can only afford to go on vacation in ... Hawaii.   That might bring out the Krampus in anyone.

The older Otto kids' takeaway from the "less fortunate family" experience is that "No matter how rich you are, expensive gifts still make a difference."   Yikes! 
We also get a great climactic scene involving Anna-Kat's school concert  -- with over the top Santa's Workshop decorations by Viv,  who is using the volunteer task as a way to gain points with the  Westport elite.

The humor of the series lies somewhat in its snark.  Fun comedy relies on exaggeration and the unexpected and "Krampus Katie" serves up some good stuff in this regard -- I particularly appreciate the trampling of the Elf on the Mantle  (I am not a fan of the surveillance elf, sorry, it is creepy) and that Katie's ultimate Christmas lesson of the episode is summed up as "Identify morons and yell at them."  The holidays are rife with potential for frustration and disappointment and being able to laugh about our foibles as exaggerated in a sitcom provides a nice bit of Yuletide catharsis  -   which is probably part of why holiday episodes are such a popular TV trope.

Anna-Kat checks in with the (scorched) elf
"Krampus Katie" is a fun episode of an enjoyable series.  Although maybe not quite a classic, it's well worth seeking out if you need a laugh or two this holiday season.

RigbyMel's rating: 

3 candy canes

a half-goat, half-demon who punishes children during the holidays, and sometimes eats their hands and butts.

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