Earlier this year, Marvel’s WandaVision set the stage for a new type of show, which combined the makings of a stereotypical sitcom with hard-hitting drama featuring tragic characters who feel the need to escape, only to be hindered by circumstances beyond their control. It was a real game-changer, not just for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but for sitcoms in general, as solidified by AMC’s new series, Kevin Can F**K Himself, which has the same blend of sitcom shenanigans and TV drama, enough to make it somewhat of a copycat. Yet, while WandaVision was more of an evolution of sitcom styles from the 50s to now, Kevin Can F**K Himself is a straight parody of the typical family-sitcoms you saw in the 90s through now. A lot of them seem to have the same formula; you have the extremely self-centered, slobbish, dim-witted husband who everybody loves, yet somehow gets into a situation which makes things worse, as well-intentioned as he tries to make it, while his hotter-than-average wife shrugs at his ideas, only to help clean up the mess. Kevin Can F**k Himself helps us to see it from the wife’s point-of-view, opening our eyes to what is beyond the bright lights and canned laughter of a sitcom. It is really one huge “f**k you” to sitcoms of this nature.
Series creator and executive producer, Valerie Armstrong mostly felt inspired to make the show after the way sitcom Kevin Can Wait handled the departure of Kevin James’ costar Errin Hayes, whose wife character was killed off in its second season. Though the title of Kevin Can F**k Himself may be taken from that incident, the show is not really based off of Kevin James’ series, mostly taking inspiration from The King of Queens, The Honeymooners, and Everybody Loves Raymond where the husband, despite meaning well, manages to constantly make his wife the butt of his jokes and shenanigans. Kevin Can F**k Himself deconstructs the formula to a level of darkness more akin to Breaking Bad while also keeping the goofiness of the sitcoms it shamelessly exposes, which may or may not mesh well for some people.
One half of Kevin Can F**k Himself is told in a multi-camera sitcom style when focusing on Eric Peterson’s Kevin McRoberts and his shenanigans, whether it be challenging his dim-witted best friend/neighbor, Neil (Alex Bonifer) to a cook-off, setting up a complicated escape room with his father, Pete (Brian Howe) and Neil, or more hilariously, going back-and-forth between a dinner date with his wife, Allison (Annie Murphy) for their anniversary, and a bros night with Neil in two different food joints (which may be my favorite episode of the season), while the other half is filmed in the style of a single-camera TV drama when Kevin leaves the picture, focusing on Allison’s point-of-view as she is seen as a woman tired of being in an unhappy marriage as the influence of Kevin’s behavior has taken a toll on her life, as she does everything to try to escape the confines of her sitcom world, eventually leading to a life of crime, drugs, and revenge.
This constant shifting of tones could not have worked, especially when we find ourselves stuck in Allison’s dramatic POV for what may be the majority of the show, yet it does so in a nearly clever way (The season finale has a moment that is left ingrained in my memory while I try to seek answers for what it could mean). What surprisingly worked for me were the sitcom elements. As a parody, it was meant to be written as cliched and horrible with as much canned laughter as possible, but I found myself laughing at the ridiculous situations on display, especially with its self-aware mean-spirit.
It took me a while to immerse myself into its two worlds, but once its main plot started kicking in, I found myself enjoying Kevin Can F**k Himself, and I cannot wait to see what happens with its second and final season!