How 'Kevin Can F**k Himself' Is Fueled By Glorious, Glorious Spite
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Ahhh, spite, the beautiful thing that fuels the construction of teeny tiny houses, the existence of Lamborghinis, and a group of nuns apparently cutting their noses off circa 870 AD. However it seems sitcoms too, are not immune from this beautiful, petty force, namely AMC's Kevin Can F**k Himself.
Centered around stereotypical comedy wife Allison Devine-McRoberts, played by Schitt's Creek star Annie Murphy, as she both exists as a character in a sitcom starring her husband and then as the protagonist of her own personal, single-cam drama when she's alone, Kevin Can F**K Himself wasn't merely a vessel for Annie Murphy to return to TV after dropping the absolute banger that is “A Little Bit Alexis." Rather, the show is a thumbing of the nose at one-dimensional sitcom spouses, according to creator Valerie Armstrong.
“I was listening to this podcast where these two women comedians, and I reference this a lot, they were talking about pilot season,” Armstrong recently told SlashFilm of how she conjured up the concept for the series roughly four-ish years ago. “Every year they're told, 'this one's different, they want a really funny woman to play the wife this time. She gets jokes.' They get to the audition, and they get nothing! All of their lines are bad, like 'what do you mean?' and the guys get all the jokes,” she continued.
However, it seems that this tale of Hollywood woe served as more than mere background noise for running errands, commuting, or taking a dump, as podcasts generally tend to do, instead, getting her creative juices flowing (no relation to that latter item, we think). “I thought 'Jesus! That sucks!'” Armstrong said. “These are women that I'm dying to write for, and they had to audition for these things, and then they didn't get them. That's so stupid!”
In that moment, she says, a lightbulb went off – why not show what happens when that lovable sitcom wife walks off-screen? “The format switch just kind of popped into my head there, wife left her somewhat funny, less attractive husband in this brightly lit living room and this audience laughter, then she runs into the kitchen and it's dark and quiet we're like ... this woman is miserable!” she said. “It's not that we're in a different world, it's not that we're in her head, she's the same person we're just looking at her more closely, focusing on her for once.”
And it's not just the plot that came from a place of (reasonably) frustrated snark – the show's probably Grandma-peeving title, too, stems from annoyance with sitcoms. “I was in that phase of my career where I wanted to title things in a way that made me laugh,” Armstrong recalled. “I just wanted to look at the document and not cringe with imposter syndrome, so all of my working documents I'd find a way to make me laugh," she continued, adding that she had an old working script entitled "'Imposter Syndrome'" that could she could ‘always’ count on for a chuckle amid the hell that is working as a creative.
And as for Kevin Can F**k himself, specifically? "I mean it was written around the time that Donna was killed off on "Kevin Can Wait," I was like ‘ugh, Kevin can f*** himself,'" Armstrong explained, referencing Kevin James's 2016 sitcom. “As time went on I certainly kept that title around because of that, because that was still in my mind. That show's been off the air in so long, but what stuck with me about it is that it does encapsulate the show very well.”
So, folks, I guess we'll just have to add “inspired one of TV's greatest titles” to James's long list of accomplishments – next to bringing to life the masterpiece that is Paul Blart Mall Cop, and making everyone in the state of Tennessee really horny, apparently.
Top Image: AMC