We spoke with Valerie Armstrong, creator of new AMC series Kevin Can F**k Himself, for our new podcast “Series Business.” The show stars Annie Murphy, fresh off Schitt’s Creek, as a wife named Allison who grows tired of cooking and cleaning and setting her husband up for jokes, and busts out of her sitcom life.
“I grew up watching these sitcoms and they all felt the same, all the family sitcoms,” said Armstrong. The husband is “funny and lovable and tubby and has this super-hot wife.
She laughs at his jokes and makes his meals and is one of the gang.”
Armstrong started to think, maybe the wife is miserable. Maybe she wants more out of life. “This idea flew into my head--what if she doesn’t want to be there at all?”
Armstrong had this vision of the wife ultimately shouting, “I fucking hate my husband!”
And Kevin Can F**k Himself was born.
As a sidebar to a story about Kevin Can F** Himself, The New York Times had a funny round-up of sitcoms featuring the funny, tubby husband and the beautiful wife lugging the laundry basket around, including one with a title that brings to mind the new AMC show: Kevin Can Wait, starring Kevin James. James’ Kevin character is married to a woman played by Erinn Hayes. She gets killed off, and Leah Remini, who starred as the wife on Kevin James comedy The King of Queens for nine seasons, joined the cast.
The show lasted two seasons.
Also on the Times’ list, Still Standing and According to Jim.
Eric Petersen plays Kevin on Kevin Can F**k Himself. Mary Hollis Inboden portrays Allison’s friend Patty.
I asked Armstrong if Murphy only does shows with a curse in the title. Armstrong said Murphy told her mother the name of her new show, and her mother reacted, “Annie!!!”
Armstrong said they were “so lucky” to land Murphy. The actor had to pull off a multicam comedy, a single cam comedy and a drama, all in one show. Not many can do that.
“We read a ton of people for it,” said Armstrong. “A ton of people. We saw a bunch of really great Allisons but none of them felt exactly right.”
Murphy was on the dream list, but was not available. Then Schitt’s Creek, where she played Alexis, ended, and she was a free agent. “She fell in love with it the same way we all did--she understood it on a cellular level,” said Armstrong, who described Murphy as “exactly our kind of people--kind and hard working and caring.”
One downside to Murphy’s performance--Armstrong said it was so spot-on that the creator never gave her notes, and at times felt remiss about it.
About the funky title, Armstrong said she started the project years ago, when she needed everything she was working on to have a title that made her laugh. “Otherwise I would get annoyed with myself, seeing it on my desktop,” she said. “Kevin Can F**k Himself always made me laugh.”
Kevin Can F** Himself episodes stream on AMC+ a week ahead of their linear premieres, Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.
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