Kevin Can F**k Himself was born out of creator Valerie Armstrong wanting to shine a light on problematic male sitcom protagonists and the put-upon female characters that support them, and therefore, in many ways the first season was heavily about its eponymous character. But the second and final season lets Allison finally focus on herself.
Fed up with the way her husband Kevin's (Eric Petersen) bad behavior would just be laughed off by those around him, multi-camera sitcom style, Allison (Annie Murphy) spent the first season of the AMC dramedy plotting to kill him. She got her neighbor-turned friend Patty (Mary Hollis Inboden) involved, even going so far as to assault Patty's brother Neil (Alex Bonifer) in the Season 1 finale when he discovered the plan for Kevin.
"I knew that I never wanted to spend the second season also trying to kill Kevin. Patty says it at one point: 'What's next, you're going to fill a jar with honey and trap him and a box?' To me, it would have just felt like that again. We needed to tell a new story," Armstrong tells Metacritic.
While Kevin is still very much a problem, the more immediate concern in the second and final season is what to do about Neil. The consequences Allison knows she will face from her plan to kill her husband, and her actions against Neil, lead her to decide to fake her death, which becomes a season-long arc, much the way getting ready to kill Kevin was for Allison in Season 1.
Faking her death, Armstrong says, "is still about getting away from her life and her husband, but it's more about her."
"I also loved this idea of exploring what it means to destroy yourself and to be so self-loathing, which is absolutely what Allison is from the beginning of the show. So, what happens when you have so much self-loathing you want to destroy the woman that you've been forever and be someone brand new? And to learn eventually that maybe there are parts of yourself that are worth saving? That, to me, felt like a story that was so much more about Allison than Kevin that it was really worth telling," she explains.
But that doesn't mean Kevin doesn't factor into the season at all. Allison just learns to deal with him differently, in part because of what she learns from dealing with Neil.
"Originally I ended the first season by having Neil dead on the floor: Patty saves Allison and in so doing, kills her brother and his blood is seeping towards her feet. And then once we realized that we had a real show and cast Alex, I thought, 'I can't kill him. He's too good.' And not to mention, none of us wanted to write a dead body show. It really bums me out as a viewer, and I always come at things from, 'What do I care to watch; what do I like?'" Armstrong says.
With her original Season 1 ending (excuse the word choice) dead, Armstrong decided to lean into the format-switching her show is known for: Scenes in Kevin's point of view are shot multi-cam style, blown out visually and including a laugh track, while scenes from Allison's point of view are single camera and therefore much more real. Neil was aligned with Kevin in Season 1 and therefore was shown in the multi-cam way — until the final moments of the first season finale.
"What if he loses that benefit of the doubt that guys like he and Kevin get forever? What if we all expected so little from him, and he defied our expectations but in the wrong way, and now he has to deal with some consequences?" Armstrong recalls thinking. "That opens up story. And once we had that, we knew that we had to pick up right where we left off."
The second and final season premiere, she reveals, deals directly with the fallout of Allison and Patty's actions, including trying to reason with Neil and blackmail Neil to get keep him from turning them in. But, Armstrong warns, no matter what they come up with, "It's never going to be a perfect solve. As long as Neil's around and walking, he's a liability, and what a fun liability to have for a full season!"
And just because Neil is now having his own single-camera moments does not mean the season will expand to the point where everyone is and the multi-camera scenes go away.
"It's in the very DNA of the show. Iwasn't blind to reviews that said, 'I was bummed that the multi-cam still existed in Episode 3,' but this was the premise that I sold it on, and I believe in it. I like the multi-cam. I like writing it. I think it's fun and goofy and really dark, if you think about it," Armstrong says. "And we decided early on that we wanted to expand Kevin's sphere of influence so we didn't get get to the end of the season saying he's just a dick to Allison, because that's never been true. And so, in this season, we wanted to make sure that we saw his marks. In every episode, someone gets screwed by Kevin. In one episode, a whole lot of people get screwed by Kevin; it's what every act is about. Allison comes in and out of it and has a different relationship to it this season because she's learning how the machine of his world actually works."
The final season of Kevin Can F**k Himself airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on AMC beginning Aug. 22 and also