Published: Tuesday, 15 June 2021 17:36 | Written by SciFi Vision
The new series, Kevin Can F**k Himself, which premieres its first two episodes Sunday, June 20th on AMC, was released a week early on its streaming network, AMC+. The series follows Allison (Annie Murphy), who at first appears to be the typical sitcom wife, married to Kevin, played by Eric Petersen. We soon discover, however, that her life is anything but the happy sitcom that it first appears, when the show moves from the bright multi-camera comedy to her more realistic single-camera existence where Allison realizes how destructive her husband is. The series also stars Mary Hollis Inboden as Patty, Allison’s neighbor, and Alex Bonifer as Neil, Patty’s brother and Kevin’s best friend.
Petersen and Inboden recently took part in a press junket to promote the series. The two talked to Jamie Ruby of SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview about working on the series and what fans can expect.
Be sure to also check out the Kevin Can F**k Himself panel at the ATX Television Festival on June 20th and stay tuned for our exclusive with creator and executive producer, Valerie Armstrong, and showrunner and executive producer, Craig DiGregorio.
SCIFI VISION:How did you both start working on the series?
MARY HOLLIS INBODEN:Well, I almost didn't, because I'm from the south, and the accent terrified me. They also sent me the script, and it took me about four reads to sort of get it. I've never seen anything like that - a multi-cam smooshed into a single-cam and back again. Nothing magical happens in Kevin Can Fuck Himself; we just follow the story of a woman, so that is maybe the most magical thing of them all. But I almost didn't come to it and then decided to. Actually, Jamie Denbo, who plays Aunt Diane, is a friend of mine, and she is from Boston and helped me with that accent and then booked Aunt Diane.
ERIC PETERSEN:I didn't know that.
MARY HOLLIS INBODEN:Yeah.
ERIC PETERSEN:That's great.
SCIFI VISION:I wouldn't know it wasn't your accent.
ERIC PETERSEN:Listen to that, Mary Hollis. That's some high praise.
MARY HOLLIS INBODEN:Thank you, Jamie. I'll stay.
ERIC PETERSEN:You get auditions from your agents, managers, and I was like, “Oh, that sounds cool.” The title obviously was gripping right off the bat. I was like, “Okay, let's see what this is.” Once I saw that it was this idea of a multi-cam and a single-cam, I was so excited, because I have a fair amount of experience in multi-cam. I love multi-cam. I love doing multi-cam.
MARY HOLLIS INBODEN:He taught us all multi-cam.
ERIC PETERSEN:Yes, a little bit. I was excited that this was going to be a show that was going to kind of take that, honor it, and then break it apart. One of the first conversations I had with Valerie and Craig when I first came in, I was like, “Are we poking fun at it and trying to deflate it?” And Valerie was like “No, I love multi-cam, too. We want to make a really strong multi-cam that kind of would stand on its own but then show the truth and the reality of the consequences of those jokes, of these actions, of the relationships.” And I was like, “Well, that sounds spectacular, to be able to do a multi-cam but also have a show's that saying something.” Because some multi-cams, a lot of multi-cams, don't say that much. It's more about a feeling that you're eliciting into the audience. So, this was going to be able to sort of do two things at once, which was very exciting to me.
SCIFI VISION:Yeah, it's definitely to two different shows wrapped in one. My question to you, Eric, then, is do you have any scenes in the single-cam part as well? I've only seen the first four episodes, so I haven't seen that far yet.
ERIC PETERSEN:In the first season, I only exist in the multi-cam, which I think is an important storytelling feature. There are a few scenes that I shot in single-cam that are like fantasies that Allison is having of like, “Oh, maybe my husband could be [like this?]” So, I have a few of those little moments, but, essentially, Kevin exists in this multi-cam world, and then, as soon as he is removed from the formula, then we see the reality of what's happening.
SCIFI VISION:Right. And Mary, is it difficult going back and forth that often? I mean, maybe you film them in blocks together, so I don't know, but is it kind of hard to swap?
MARY HOLLIS INBODEN:We would spend a day, a day and a half by the end of it, in multi-cam, and that was my first experience in multi-cam. I never shot a multi-cam before. And I'm being honest when I say Eric is such a true genius at the genre that I think we all look to him as our leader on those multi-cam days.
The challenge is sometimes just existing in Kevin's universe, in that multi-cam, when he is constantly belittling and ignoring and overlooking Allison. Once you hear that, you kind of can't stop hearing that, and as much fun as these boys are having in Kevin's universe, and I consider Patty one of the boys, it's hard to sort of take a deep breath on those days I’ve found.
But the single-cam part of it, we also get to explore, like Eric said, the consequences of the actions of everything that happens in Kevin's universe. Allison's a dreamer, so in the single-cam, we also get to explore her dreams and watch them sometimes be crushed.
So, Patty is just as judgmental, just as hypercritical, in the multi-cam of Allison as she is on the outside. Nothing changes in that way. I don't feel like there's one that's more heightened; I just feel like, honestly, you can see the cracks in the single-cam. And you can see my terrible, terrible eyeliner, which I think is really important for everyone. It's a choice; it was a hard stop and it was a choice.
SCIFI VISION:[laughs] This is kind of adding on that, Mary. You talk about her being judgmental, and obviously through the whole thing she is, but at the beginning, she's very, I guess you'd say, flippant. She just doesn't seem to get it, but I feel like as it goes on, especially kind of after the car trip she takes with Allison, she starts to get it a little bit more - maybe see more sides to Allison. Can you talk about her changes in that way? And is it going to affect her at all and ever make her dream for things? Or is she still satisfied with what she's got?
MARY HOLLIS INBODEN:Oh, gosh, I think just from the first conversation, as soon as she realizes that she can help Allison from being so pitiful in that first episode - because that's all she's trying to do is just snap her out of daydreaming and just being so pathetic. I think that from there, once she realizes that she kind of likes talking to Allison outside of Kevin's universe, then it's a whole push and pull about, “Will they be friends? Will Patty let that happen? Will the armor come down?” And I think that Patty has one of the strongest points of purpose, I guess, in the show, and that is when they're in the car, and Allison says, “He basically ruined my life, and you just sat there and laughed,” and Patty says, you know, “It seemed harmless.” I think that that's basically the point. And I feel like the girls kind of running together is also - like Patty starts as the implementer and Allison's the dreamer. They need each other to be able to make all the plans happen and their lives easier. That does a big major shift, and I think that Patty starts having fun. So, she realizes that maybe she can kind of step out there. And the four episodes you haven't seen in the latter part of the season are exploring that and like, “How far can you step outside your comfort zone?” And that's where we're headed, but it's not hard to be buds with Annie Murphy, I’ll tell you.
SCIFI VISION:All right, and Eric, she was talking about his harmlessness, and that's my question for you. I've tried to think of the right way to phrase this, but we see most of the bad things that happen through Allison's point of view. I mean, we see some of the things he did. He's very inconsiderate and childish. We do see that, but he doesn't seem always to realize what he's doing, I guess. So, my question to you is, “Is he really that oblivious?” Are we going to see a darker side of him that maybe we just haven't seen yet?
ERIC PETERSEN:I think that he is that oblivious, and I think that is, to me, what was interesting, or a good challenge, about playing Kevin. It would have been easy to play him as a real jerk who's just like, “My stupid wife, and she doesn't do anything right for me,” and just very negative all the time. But I thought what would be interesting and hopefully funny is that he is a sort of a joyous, positive person who's just completely dismissive and unaware of his wife's feelings and hopes and dreams. Then, he seems like a more complex character, and it's not quite so one note. So, I think that you will see him start to have some cracks of enlightenment over time, but I don't think that he has a dastardly [plan], thinking about like, “How can I ruin Allison's life?” I think he is just so self-centered about himself that her wants and needs are just of no consequence to him.
MARY HOLLIS INBODEN:I think what Kevin Can Fuck Himself hopes to explore, also, is that obliviousness can still be dangerous.
MARY HOLLIS INBODEN:We saw that.
ERIC PETERSEN:Because I think everybody knows that, obviously, abuse is terrible. Emotional abuse is terrible. Physical abuse, totally terrible. But the sort of obliviousness to your partner's feelings and existence is also terrible, and we've seen that not only in sitcoms for years and years, but in a lot of marriages. You know, you have two people that can be living kind of separate lives, and that's no way to have a relationship.
SCIFI VISION:Yeah, I just want to yell at them and tell them to sit down and talk to each other, because you feel bad for her, but I kind of just a tiny bit feel bad for him, too, because I don't think he's doing it on purpose.
All right, could you both tell me your favorite scene without revealing too much for people who haven't seen it?
ERIC PETERSEN:My favorite scene was definitely…I think it's Episode Six. I get to eat quite a bit of food. That's what I'll say.
SCIFI VISION:All right.
ERIC PETERSEN:That's all I'll say, but I got to eat a lot of food over those taping days.
MARY HOLLIS INBODEN:Is this the day that you - I'll spoil it - Is this the day that you spat on Annie Murphy over and over again?
ERIC PETERSEN:Yeah, that was part of it.
MARY HOLLIS INBODEN:And let me just say, brilliantly and well-deserved standing ovation at the end of the day for Eric Petersen, who spent the day eating steak and spitting it in Annie Murphy's face…That was a really fun day. I mean, Eric Petersen, anytime there's physical comedy. I mean, [there was] so much eating, so much eating, and you were a super trouper.
ERIC PETERSEN:Also, like it was just a pride issue, but they would bring in these spit buckets…then they would say “Cut,” and you could spit the food out, but I was like, “I've got to eat it all. Take it. I can handle it.”
MARY HOLLIS INBODEN:“I'm a machine!”
My fave scene happens, I think, in Episode Three. It's Patty and Allison, and they're in the salon with each other, and it's really a moment where you can tell Patty is kind of excited to have a girlfriend to talk to; that's not something that has existed for her before. And they just keep playing this sort of cat and mouse game for the first bit of it, where Patty will just kind of like spit something out and then look over to Allison like, “Can we continue to talk about this, or have you had enough?” [laughs] And I think it's the beginning of the enemies becoming friends and watching that wall fall away to reveal this really, really great powerful female friendship. I loved that. I love that layer.
SCIFI VISION:Is there someone, I guess you two don't get maybe many scenes together, but other than each other, is there maybe someone you would want to have more scenes with in the series you haven't really gotten to work a lot with, other than each other?
ERIC PETERSEN:They were all great. I loved working with everybody. I love the scenes with Annie. I love the scenes with with Brian [Howe] and Alex, who play my dad and my best friend. I only got to have like one scene with Ray Lee, who plays Sam, for obvious reasons, but I think that there is probably in the future more scenes for the two of them together.
MARY HOLLIS INBODEN:Really, honestly, I think our whole cast is so brilliant, in my opinion. I remember watching the first episode and kind of squinting through my parts and going like, “Oh gosh, if you can just hang in there with these geniuses, you're gonna be okay.” I would love more scenes with Brian. I didn't get to work with Ray at all. I'd love to work with him, and he's a delight. The guy who plays my brother, Alex Bonifer, is also a comedic genius, and I think the world of him and his talent…We were starting to sort of find, though it's very hard to see in that bigness of the multi-cam, but we were starting to sort of find a brother/sister [thing], like we do this sort of tit for tat, but because it's so often just Patty and Allison setting up jokes for them, there's not a lot of bonding that can happen there. And Brian Howe, who plays Pete. Any time Brian Howe dances, the world smiles. The world smiles.