“Kevin Can F *** Himself,” which premieres on AMC + and AMC on June 13 and 20, respectively, stirs the tension at the heart of the sitcom between how men are allowed to behave and how men are allowed to behave. women are supposed to behave. Creator Valerie Armstrong divides each hour-long episode between the multi-camera format traditionally used in TV sitcoms and the more common single-camera style for dramas, and in the middle is Allison McRoberts (Annie Murphy). Allison, 35, lives in a slowly collapsing house in Worcester, Massachusetts, with her mostly useless husband Kevin (Eric Petersen). She serves him every meal, cleans up after him, entertains her forgiving father and silly friends, and never has a moment to herself – and the trail of laughter that accompanies every scene in which Kevin ignores her or her. sycophantic gang mocking her adds insult to injury.
When “Kevin Can F *** Himself” is in sitcom mode, the lighting is garish, the house in which most of the episodic action takes place is clearly a built ensemble, the laugh trail is everywhere, and the hijinks and jokes. on the characters ‘Massachusetts-ness evokes this “Saturday Night Live” Dunkin’ Donuts skit. (Adoration of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, lots of “Good Will Hunting” jokes, complaints about Deflategate and football, etc.) But when the focus is only on Allison, everything has to do with the false joy of presenting the sitcom changes. The lighting dims. The misery of the house is obvious. The laugh track is replaced by absolute silence or a lingering, low level feedback moan. Allison’s hair is long and her outfits old-fashioned, and every once in a while she sees a cockroach scurrying across the floor of her house. Nothing is good here, and Allison sees no way out.
Criticizing the American sitcom isn’t exactly a new idea. “WandaVision” did it just earlier this year, nodding at “I Love Lucy,” “The Brady Bunch,” “Bewitched” and “Full House” as Elizabeth Olsen incumbent Wanda got over her trauma on returning to TV shows that she grew up on. looking like a child. Animated series like “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” also started out as somewhat format-conscious spins, injecting bursts of violence and meta-winks to shake things up. But what “Kevin Can F *** Himself” does is use the sitcom’s inherent conservatism as a contrast to its own black tone, letting Allison’s loneliness and resentment bleed into the sitcom portion of each. episode, then shape Allison’s choices in the drama part in response to her dawning awareness. Allison breaks a mug of beer in anger as she listens to Kevin’s endless whining, and we see this scene from both angles. Through the lens of the sitcom, his bloodstained palm is the inspiration for Kevin’s period joke; through the dramatic lens we see how unaffected Allison is by the injury. Allison’s neighbor Patty (Mary Hollis Inboden) informs her of Kevin’s betrayal, and the news is devastating in the dramatic space; in the sitcom, Kevin blows his indiscretion by telling Allison to cook him dinner.