A boorish man uses his home as his own personal playground while his out-of-his-league wife walks into the room to encourage him to be more careful not to cause any damage. She is the “nagging” wife who kills the fun, and he is the everyman who cracks a perfectly timed joke at her expense. This is the type of garishly lit network sitcom dynamic we have seen a million times before because this is what made America laugh. But what happens when said wife is not living this heightened reality in the easy-going manner in which it is intended? This is the basic design of the new AMC satirical dark comedy Kevin Can F**k Himself. Annie Murphy leaves behind her Emmy-winning role on Schitt’s Creek to star as Allison, the put-upon wife of the titular man-child (Eric Petersen). Kevin has to be the center of attention and his antics are reinforced by the familiar sitcom laughter set against a stagey living room set that only exists on television. Yet, when Allison leaves the heightened life with Kevin, she is plunged into her dark “reality” where she realizes she is trapped in a loveless marriage and living an unfulfilling life.
It is difficult to say whether or not the non-sitcom life that Allison leads is reality as it actually exists or if it is just playing within the dark crime dramas that AMC has popularized such as Breaking Bad and Killing Eve. There is no more laugh track, and she definitely does not have the phony smile plastered on her face anymore. She is simply a liquor store clerk trying to make it through each day with her sanity intact. Murphy plays each version of Allison to perfection, fully believing she could have been an underdeveloped sitcom wife if her career had gone down a less rewarding path. The quiet desperation she exudes in her real life is palpable, even finding gentle moments of escape like tearing up a box of Dunkin Donuts laced with sadness and humiliation. Yet, you have to question whether or not this is reality when Allison decides there is no other way to get out of her situation besides killing her husband. There are brief mentions about how just leaving is not an option, but such an extreme reaction makes you suspicious of what is truly happening.
The show does a flawless job of recreating the sitcom tropes that we know so well. Petersen plays being an oaf so well that you do not blame Allison for wanting to kill him. Of course, you have the idiot best friend and next door neighbor, Neil (Alex Bonifer), Kevin’s father, Pete (Brian Howe), and Neil’s roommate and snarky sister, Patty (Mary Hollis Inboden). To know these shows is to appreciate what a great job it is doing at eviscerating the tropes. This is not always executed effectively, though. For as strong as the satire is, the hour-long running time tends to be a bit much for the material this series is biting off. What at first serves as a clever recreation soon loses its potency as you have to endure nearly a full “bad” sitcom episode within a proper episode of this show. Allison is trapped in this reality, but as viewers we do not need to be repeatedly exposed to it to get the point across. The gritty reality in which Allison is blazing a new trail is the most entertaining aspect of the series.
The show works as an effective condemnation of the accepted misogyny that has been perpetrated in these types of shows for all of these years. It does not go far beyond setting up the general conceit and attempting to coast for the remainder of the time without much depth to add. It is to be expected that a typical sitcom wife would be underdeveloped, but to not have more sense of how Allison got to this place in her life with Kevin seems like a misstep. The best moments are when the show leaves behind the idea of Kevin completely and Allison begins to form a strange bond with Patty. The women of the show are the strongest aspects, and we champion more of that. The hook of the show comes with major opportunities for innovation, but this series is inconsistent in capitalizing on such themes. The performances are enough to make this show worth a watch, but when the show comes back for a second season the hope is that the show digs deeper with its execution.
The first season of Kevin Can F**k Himself comes to Blu-Ray with an eye-popping 1080p presentation that pushes the format to its limit. The series is filled with intricately curated sets and distinct cinematography choices that convey the two realities which are presented with perfect clarity on this disc. From the many brightly lit sitcom scenes to the darker, shadowy sequences in the real world, the skin tones and facial details are incredibly rendered in a way you could almost mistake this for a 4K disc. Subtle facial features are readily visible, such as when Allison gets caught walking around with remnants from a powdered donut on her face. Colors from the blood and costumes pop off the screen alongside the varied bleak landscapes. Black levels are very deep and never betray the objects on screen. No instances of compression artifacts crept up during the viewing. This is an immaculate presentation that perfectly showcases a dynamically shot series that deserves such treatment.
The Blu-Ray disc comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that is not particularly lively due to the material but gets the job done. The series is primarily dialogue driven with very little in the way of action. There is some nice ambient activity in the rear channels, especially during crowded sequences portraying a party at the house. The dialogue primarily stays in front center channels and is reproduced clearly. The track does a good job of making sure neither sound effects nor the music ever overpowers dialogue. The needle-drops bring a richness to the series that fills up the room on this track. When the kinetic moments kick in, there is the slightest amount of activity in the low end. This track has a suitable dynamic range that should please fans of the series.
- A Look At The Series: A nearly six-minute featurette in which the cast and creative team discuss the broad themes of the series and how it aims to tear down the tropes of a sitcom wife.
- Meet The Characters: A seven-minute featurette which gives a brief overview of the key characters within this series.
- Making The Show: A six-minute featurette which goes into some of the production details of the show including the shooting in both single and multi-cam style.
Kevin Can F**k Himself is thus far a show where the promise of the premise outweighs the execution in some respects. The care put into crafting these episodes is beyond reproach, and each and every performer is bringing something special to their role. On a narrative level, there just does not seem to be much to explore beyond what is on the surface. RLJE Films has released a Blu-Ray for the first season featuring a stellar A/V presentation and a couple of brief featurettes. While not one of the absolute best shows of the year, there is still enough here to warrant a viewing.
Kevin Can F**k Himself: The Complete First Season is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray and DVD.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: RLJE Films has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.