Kevin Can F*** Himself

Annie Murphy appears to be a sitcom punchline wife -but wait there's more.

I hadn’t read much in advance before viewing Kevin Can F*** Himself (which is admittedly a rarity for me) so I was aghast at the opening scenes of Annie Murphy’s new comedy.

Had I stumbled into Two & A Half MenKevin Can Wait?

But that’s the point.

Allison McRoberts (Murphy) is married to obnoxious, ageing couch potato Kevin (Eric Petersen). An overweight sports fan, he’s regularly joined by pal Neil (Alex Bonifer) and layabout father Peter Neil (Brian Howe). Collectively the three men spend an inordinate amount of time doing nothing much in between baseball and beer-pong.

Even next door neighbour Patty (Mary Hollis Inboden) is largely one of the boys, compliant in working-class humour and a pessimism that pervades the small Massachusetts town of Worcester.

In her sitcom living room Allison gives as good as she gets, with Chuck Lorre-like punchlines, leering faces and a crackling laugh track. Amid such comedy schtick, she yearns for a new house and a new American dream. All Kevin wants is to buy sports memorabilia and organise his 10th Anniversa-rage.

But once Allison steps out of the room she’s in another world. The colour is drained, the laughs are no more and reality hits home: she is suffocating in a loveless, despairing marriage of 10 years with no way out.

This device by creator Valerie Armstrong changes everything (and at this point I was hugely relieved). Allison’s alone-ness is unmistakeable. But as the episode unfolds we learn more about her torture… she works in a liquor store and Worcester is as glum as they come.

But she will also encounter Sam (Raymond Lee), a former flame who has returned home to open a local diner. It’s an awkward reunion but one that will challenge what Allison has achieved and what else is possible.

Whenever Allison steps back into her home, the characters turn on the sitcom style which is deliberately jarring and I sort of wish these scenes were shorter in length… maybe that will come.

But it is an effective conceit because you get a real sense of what Allison must be living through, and you’ll grow to admire the inner strength she has to affect change.

Annie Murphy, who so impressed as Alexis in Schitt’s Creek, is pitch perfect as the harangued, drowning wife. She flips instantly from grimacing sitcom wife to a hollow woman desperate to rise above her circumstance.

Eric Petersen has a thankless role as the loud, buffoon husband who would be right at home in The King of Queens or Married with Children (even the set is reminiscent of All in the Family). Raymond Lee represents optimism and the assurance that not all men are obsessed by TV sports and horseplay.

There are few laughs to be found here, but this doesn’t diminish from the very satisfying drama. Just be glad this isn’t you.

Kevin Can F*** Himself is now screening on Amazon Prime Video.

8 Responses

  1. Just now watching this after reading this review. Only up to ep 2 but I’m hooked. I was a bit unsure about the title too. But yeah it’s quite appropriate. Kevin seems to represent the fake idyllic worlds we fill our minds with when watching these sitcoms. Far removed from real life. But his behaviour and treatment of her is too much like reality for too many women. This show calls it out rather than making a joke of it or minimising it. That’s my early perception of this show at least.

  2. The title is meant to be a spoof / reference to Kevin Can Wait. That show generated a fair bit of controversy over the way it savagely wrote-off the wife character by killing her off in its second season. Given the way Annie Murphy’s character is treated by her husband, I think you’ll find it’s a pretty appropriate title.

  3. But if you actually watch it, you will find it to be a very apt title. It develops from a shallow laugh-fest into something much deeper, & makes you appreciate your own life. Worth watching.

    1. I guess that’s what the channel change button is for BellJay. If you watch the show, you will find that it is very apt given how Kevin treats her. Anyway, you and I probably like different types of TV shows 🙂

      I agree with Brett S about the show

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