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Kenan and Kel: More than Just a TV Show?

September 30, 2011

One of the reasons that I chose Kenan and Kel as my TV Show is because I think that it is so wonderfully simple.  Each episode starts with Kenan and Kel greeting the audience  and setting up the episode.  It is sort of Brectian in the way that they stand before the audience as the characters themselves and talk about the show with full knowledge that it is a show but it is also meant to be real to them.  For example, in one episode, Kenan is reading the script to the show that is about to take place and Kel is begging to know what happens in the show, not because he wants the know about the show but because he’s concerned about what is about to happen in his life.  Really though, it’s not because the aesthetic distance is not meant to make people see social commentary because in Kenan and Kel, social commentary is rare if not nonexistent.

After the introduction, the show starts out with some sort of scenario being introduced that Kenan believes that he can capitalize on with some dishonest scheme which Kel reluctantly helps him with.  The two then try to enact the scheme in a fumbling and hilarious way and by the end, something goes wrong, usually attributable to Kel, the plan backfires, and the two are in a worst situation than before.  The audience never sees the aftermath; the curtain just closes.

Each episode ends with Kenan and Kel addressing the audience, once again aware that they are characters in a show, asking the audience if they enjoyed the show, but still involved in their lives as the characters.  Every episode ends with the two reflecting on the show for a moment and then Kenan developing another idea which he will not reveal.  Kel is always dismayed by the idea and begs several questions about it, Kenan tells Kel to get various items and meet him somewhere strange and then leaves, Kel begs a few more questions until he gives up, swings his arms across his chest and says his catchphrase “Awe, here it goes!”




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  1. I think the way that Kenan and Kel introduce and close the show helps the audience feel more connected with the characters. Bertolt Brect would be proud.

  2. It is neat that Kenan and Kel seeks to break the fourth wall, and then re-build it. It almost reminds me of a twist of DaDa art. Creating a forced interaction with the audience, and then taking it back again.

  3. Ben Hilderbrand permalink

    I like the use of the cinema history teachings. Keenan and Kel was always original in its ability to draw audiences into the action. I know when I used to watch the show I couldn’t wait for Kel’s catch phrase because at that moment I knew I wouldn’t be able to change the channel.

  4. Thinking back to when I watched Kenan & Kel as a kid, I remember the format being different than hardly anything else that was on television. They didn’t stay in character at the end of the episode, yet in a way they WERE their character. Somehow, the audience found it easy to believe these boys could be growing up in Anytown, America and also be stars. It was an interesting dichotomy.

  5. andrew permalink

    “Aw, here it goes!” was a key phrase of my childhood. The scheme of Kenan and Kel was so simple, yet so entertaining. It seems like audiences today crave complexity and emotion. Who knew that the perfect formula for a show would exist in Kenan and Kel?

  6. I really like the way you describe the set up of the show. I believe that bringing realism to TV is very interesting and gives you something more tangible when connecting to the characters. Their dynamic on the show seems really funny and I am sad that I missed out on this one when I was younger.

  7. The simplicity of this show definitely had a lot to do with its success. People knew what to expect out of each episode, but were always waiting excitedly to see what crazy situation would arise and how Kenan and Kel would be able to handle it. I guess you could say that because the show catered to a younger demographic, the simplicity of it all was almost necessary, but people our age can still find the humor in it too so it definitely wasn’t just geared toward the younger demo.

  8. austinb13 permalink

    This is a great concept for a show, I like the direct address to the audience at the end. I will have to check it out and watch some full episodes. I’m sure the duo is very funny. Smart writing too, having a similar ending to each episode keeps the audience involved because they feel like they know what is coming next and they know things will get resolved.

  9. That was such a great line to start a show with. It was classy and continues on through life in the minds of the watchers. Also, its kind of a way for them to break the barrier between the audience and the actors. When comics or movies/tv shows can do this successfully it makes for a even better show.

  10. I have always enjoyed Kenan and Kel. I used to watch All That and continued watching their show Kenan and Kel when it aired. The thing I remember most besides all of the orange soda is the opening and closing of the show. I can still hear the “awe here it goes” now.

  11. How did I watch this show haha? I just watched a clip on youtube. So ridiculous. As everyone else already said, that line in the beginning that kel says is a classic. I can’t think of any other shows that have a line like that.

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