I must say the preview of Kevin Can F*** Himself intrigued me. A twist of the classic type of sitcom with the buffoonish husband as protagonist with demure wife as foil (think All in the Family, The Honeymooners).
Annie Murphy, who, up until this point, I knew as the ditzy Alexis Rose on Schitt’s Creek, plays Alison McRoberts the long-suffering housewife of Kevin, who personifies the archetype of the dumb husband. Whenever he’s on screen, usually accompanied by his father, Pete, and less intelligent neighbor Neil (which isn’t really saying much), the show is brightly lit in the multi-camera 90s-sitcom style, and includes that classic “laugh track” feature.
However, when these stereotypical males disappear, we transgress to a single-camera style, and the screen turns dark, as does the story. Without giving too many spoilers, Alison dreams of a better life, a life where she’s more than just “Kevin’s husband,” and it turns out that some of Kevin’s antics that make for a good sitcom storyline have a much darker impact on Annie’s life (like putting sugar in the gas tank of Alison’s boss, and subsequently getting Alison fired from a job that seemed to give her a send of purpose). Accompanied by her jaded, taciturn neighbor Patty (Neil’s sister), she decides she can only do one thing: kill her husband and enjoy the freedom to sit in a café with a book, a scone, and some peace. How many trapped wives have enjoyed that fantasy (and even some husbands for that matter)?
The show does a pretty neat thing with that classic “family sitcom” structure by twisting it on his head, but it also provides some commentary on marriage. I don’t know how many actual marriages resemble the sitcom union (I suspect many, given how many women I hear about on CoSP talk about being “mother” to an ex-husband), but the show does take a few pokes at the institution. In one scene, Alison complains to her aunt/boss at the liquor store where she works about her marriage, and her aunt responds with an anecdote about how she hid a foot injury so she could wear heels to titillate her husband. She concludes with, “That’s marriage.” Even though it’s television, I was sad to hear that statement.
(SPOILER ALERT) At one point later in the season, Alison begins an affair with her former high school flame, Sam, and she ponders running away with him, but he points out, “You’ve never stood on your own.” It’s a true statement. She stopped going to school because Kevin told her it was a waste of time; she also rarely drives because Kevin tells her she’s a bad driver. Part of the show is a female empowerment tale in which she comes to realize she can be a whole person.
There’s a parallel story as well: Patty, the neighbor, has been “one of the guys” as part of Kevin’s crew, but she feels dissatisfaction at her role of having to put up with her brother Neil’s antics (usually influenced by Kevin). Initially, she regards Alison as a “Barbie” but over time, she gradually develops a respect and affinity for her and her situation.
The movie’s last scene, which I won’t spoil here, is a masterpiece, in which the single-camera setup and multi-camera setups merge. I’ll only be curious as to how they can maintain the storyline in Season Two.
Kevin can F*** Himself is essentially telling sitcom views of marriage to go f*** itself. Perhaps it could continue societal trends in telling marriage itself to go f*** itself? Only time will tell.
My name is Craig. I'm an educator, writer, and unapologetic singleton. When not reading, writing, or teaching, I enjoy hiking, running, watching movies, going to concerts, spending time with friends, and playing with my cat/son, Chester.