On AMC’s new dramedy Kevin Can F***K Himself, Allison McRoberts (Annie Murphy) doesn’t just want her man-child, misogynistic husband Kevin (Eric Petersen) to go fuck himself. No, she wants him dead, and she wants to be the one to do it. The first episode of the two-part premiere, “Living The Dream,” establishes that Allison has given up the last decade of her life for a partner who hardly sees her as a fully-formed person with goals and wants of her own. In the scenes set within the multi-cam sitcom style, she’s usually the butt of the joke. But as Kevin Can F***K Himself zooms out of Kevin’s story and into Allison’s, the tone shifts to a grittier single-cam style. She is fed up of putting her life on hold; after having a vision of jamming broken glass into Kevin’s neck, she makes the decision to kill him.
Murphy tells the A.V. Club that in Allison’s moment of anger and chaos, the thought of murder stems from her desire to escape him permanently. But is straight-up murder the only way to go? “The decision is symbolic of how his death is the only way out, it’s how she gets her freedom and the ability to keep on living,” she says. “She articulates it by saying ‘I’m going to kill him,’ but there’s so much more to it than that.” Her co-star Mary Hollis Inboden adds that it’s all about her female rage, which has been building up for years now because of Kevin’s treatment. In the second episode of the two-parter premiere, “New Tricks,” Allison is determined to follow through on this
fantasy decision, so after some research, she seeks out pills to make Kevin overdose. “She could just get a gun and shoot him but she wants to do it correctly and to not be discovered,” Inboden says. “ This is an A student who needs to follow the rules even in this case.”
Inboden plays Allison’s neighbor Patty; the two have a fraught bond because of their noticeably different personalities. Patty is blunt and aloof while Allison tries to remain hopeful about escaping her smothering life. “Living The Dream” makes it clear Allison has nobody to rely on aside from Kevin (and that’s dubious), but she does share a meaningful dialogue with Patty on the porch, one that will transform their journey as individuals and as a duo over the next several episodes. Patty reveals to Allison, who dreams of buying a nicer house, that Kevin lost all of their savings years ago but hasn’t told her yet. It’s the first time the two women have had an honest encounter. Inboden says it’s the scene she auditioned with all the way back in a pre-pandemic February 2020. “I love it. It’s the propeller for the rest of this relationship,” Inboden says. “Patty is icy and seemingly judgmental of Allison and cannot watch her be this pitiful, so they start this conversation and a bond forms.”
“New Tricks” unexpectedly furthers this bond. Allison and Patty are thrust into each other’s worlds; the former’s looking for pills while the latter is secretly selling them at her salon. “The subsequent scenes are a weird cat-and-mouse between them driven by Allison, who wants to hang out again,” Inboden says. “Patty has a lot going on but with Allison, she finally lets some of the ice chill.” Murphy adds that this focus on a female friendship—which isn’t seen often in the sitcom genre—anchors the heightened escapism of the show: “That porch scene is wonderful. It’s deeply indicative of each of their distinctive personalities that will now come together in order to save the other one.
Kevin Can F***K Himself sets out to deconstruct these sitcom tropes through visually striking moods—brighter colors and an annoying laugh track for when Allison’s story wades into Kevin’s, and a dark, bleaker vibe when entering her anxious reality. The multi-cam comedy is new for both actors, but Inboden says she doesn’t think Patty changes much between the shift to single cam. “Annie and I agree that our roles in the multi-cam style are not to participate. Our characters’ don’t get much space to talk, but in the single-cam we do, so the energy is very different.” Murphy adds: “If we knew it’d be a multi-cam day next, we’d kick back and have a glass of wine because we knew we wouldn’t have too many lines, so we were exceptionally grateful to have the single-cam to say ‘Look over here now, we can do it too.’ So many sitcom actresses did not have the same luxury and had to be the set up for the joke again and again.”