One of our most anticipated shows of the summer is AMC’s Kevin Can F**K Himself, a whip-smart black comedy which upends the “sitcom wife” trope we all know and hate. You know her when you see her—the easygoing, patient, incongruously gorgeous housewife whose sole personality trait is absolute devotion to the sitcom’s schlubby male hero.
Kevin Can F**K Himself blends a multi-cam sitcom—in which Annie Murphy’s Allison is a textbook sitcom wife—with a gritty drama in which she’s on the brink of a mental breakdown after years of emotional neglect from her clueless husband. You can watch a brand new promo exclusively here on ELLE.com, which neatly sums up the two sides of the show.
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Despite appearances, this is not the actual title sequence for Kevin Can F**K Himself. For one thing, Murphy gets an “and…” credit at the very end while Eric Petersen’s Kevin gets first billing. That’s appropriate for the multi-cam sitcom that the show initially appears to be, but not the subversive, meta dramedy it actually is. In the sitcom, Allison is an afterthought who exists solely to laugh indulgently at Kevin’s boorish antics. In Kevin Can F**K Himself, she’s the long-suffering protagonist who’s about to lose her shit.
“I thought it was a brilliant idea from our marketing team,” showrunner Valerie Armstrong says of the faux title sequence. “We considered having something like that in the show, and we saw a lot of pitches for a main title that more resembled the promo that we’re putting out. But at the end of the day, this isn’t a show about Kevin. That promo is exactly right in that he is listed first—he is the star of that show, but not of our show. In our show, Kevin can fuck himself!”
Although the sitcom-within-a-show is in some ways a parody, Armstrong and her writers knew that it also had to be genuinely funny. It couldn’t just be an afterthought or a wink—the multi-cam sitcom in which Kevin stars had to work as a show in its own right. “We made sure that in every episode, you could pull out all of those multi-cam scenes and have this weird little sitcom that could plausibly air on CBS,” Armstrong explains. “That show revolves around Kevin. Every shot that we use, we don’t just cut to Allison and Patty (Mary Hollis Inboden) to see their reactions to anything, because that’s not what that show would do. We fully made that sitcom.”
This part of the process, in which Armstrong and her creative team made a CBS-worthy sitcom in which Murphy’s character is always downtrodden, required some discomfort. “On those multi-cam days, it felt like we were just making another sometimes-misogynistic sitcom, where the women would get two lines a day,” Armstrong admits. “We threw ourselves into it, and it was very fun—everybody around us knew what we were doing, the actors were completely in on it—but when you keep having someone spit things at Annie all day long, you’re like… Okay, but we’re making another show too! We’re seeing the consequences of this, and we’re commenting on it. But in order to do that, you really have to commit to it. And we did.”
Kevin Can F**k Himself will make its streaming debut on AMC+ on June 13, followed by its basic cable premiere on AMC one week later, June 20.
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