Sitcoms, since the beginning, fall into formulaic expectations when it comes to heterosexual marriages. The husband plays the head of the household regardless of if he presents as a responsible suit-wearing office worker or as a sport jersey-touting man-child. Either way, the wife willingly stands by her man and keeps house while the men (or children) do as they please. The tv-women of the 50s and 60s resembled Stepford Wives, while more recent incarnations depict the female leads playing more motherly figures as the husbands’ maturity levels seem to have dropped over the last few decades. Nonetheless, the expectations of women in sitcoms remain unfair, and AMC’s new series KEVIN CAN F*** HIMSELF is letting sitcom wives get their revenge. Staring Annie Murphy (Schitt’s Creek) as Allison, this sitcom/drama mashup shows the secret life (and thoughts) of a typical sitcom wife, and her plot to get her much deserved revenge against her husband.
Despite the show boasting the name of her husband, the new series actually revolves around the quiet and doting wife. Allison doesn’t swear, doesn’t like inconveniencing others, and always “hopes” something will happen instead of actually stating she wants something. So how can Miss Manners expect to take the ultimate step to freedom? Leaving Kevin would be rude, so Allison will just have to find a way to kill him. And along the way, the murder-scheming wife pairs up with her new best friend Patty (Mary Hollis Inboden) and old love interest Sam (Raymond Lee) who both simultaneously help her and further complicate her life.
Horror fans coming to the show might find themselves repelled by the predictable sitcom appearance of it. The first episode opens like so many situational comedies with a short musical intro and the outside shot of an unassuming suburban house in a nondescript neighborhood. A single-camera production with ugly wallpaper, a staircase in the background, supposedly leading to the bedrooms rarely seen, and a laugh track to let us know what to find humorous. Within the world of almost all sitcoms, we see a man’s inability to deal with emotions, basic tasks, or even the ability to function as an average adult. Ridiculous situations occur one right after the other as the title character poorly attempts to juggle adult life and his childish ways.
Kevin (Eric Petersen) concocts a scheme in every episode with the help of his oblivious dad (Brian Howe) and best friend (Alex Bonifer) who could be described as every Will Ferrell character. So, while unintentional, the men set out to ruin Allison’s life on a daily basis. And despite his inability to stay out of trouble and make any kind of positive change in his life, Kevin continues to fail upwards. Much to the displeasure of his wife. Similar to countless other sitcoms, the storylines to KEVIN focus on the buffoonery of an incredibly immature husband and how the curiously devoted wife puts up with the never-ending selfishness of her spouse. The show definitely calls back to King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond, and even The Honeymooners, in which Kevin’s life plays out in an episodic fashion. Each new story holds a whole new world for Kevin and any consequences from the previous episode, never appear in the next one.
However, only half the show follows the sitcom premise, while the other half of KEVIN CAN F*** HIMSELF shows what happens in the life of the forgotten and underappreciated wife. The writers create strong compassion for Allison by shedding light on the sympathy tv audiences should have had for sitcom wives all these years. When the husband leaves the frame to tend to his antics, we see how the wife functions as a character independent of her spouse. Away from the bright studio lights, Allison’s world takes a more muted tone. Her hair loses its shine, and the canned laughter goes silent. When away from her husband, the pleasant and ever-patient partner becomes exasperated with Kevin’s bumbling hobbies, and unlike the endless one-off storylines that make up Kevin’s existence, Allison’s life follows a continuous plot. So, instead of her problems ending at the end of every episode, issues only intensify as the series progresses.
The sitcom-tinted backgrounds perpetuate the picture-perfect world the husband prefers, while the drama-toned scenes show the realistic lens women endure. As the show flips back and forth between serious issues found in typical AMC dramas and silly sitcom tropes, the tone switches suddenly as if jumping from one channel to the next. The blend of serious with farcical sitcom situations will remind a lot of people of Wandavision, but KEVIN is in no way derivative of the Disney+ powerhouse and brings plenty of originality to the small screen. In fact, KEVIN CAN F*** HIMSELF will change the way you watch sitcoms because you will always wonder what the wives are getting up to behind the scenes. And I’m not talking about some charming I Love Lucy kind of antics. I’m talking drug deals, murder plots, and other seriously illegal moves with each action taking Allison further away from her happy housewife existence.
KEVIN CAN F*** HIMSELF premiered on June 13th on AMC+ and will be available June 20th on AMC.