LOS ANGELES, June 13 (UPI) — Annie Murphy said her sitcom wife character, Allison, in Kevin Can F**k Himself, speaks to society’s unfair expectations of women.
“[Allison] has put up with so much of the world around her and just kind of smiled through it,” Murphy said in a recent Television Critics Association Zoom panel.
The new AMC series, which premieres Sunday, follows a sitcom couple and shows the audience what happens when they are off-camera. Whenever Allison’s husband, Kevin (Eric Petersen), is on screen, the show appears to be a sitcom filmed in front of a studio audience, with bright lights and a laugh track. When Allison is away from Kevin, the audience disappears, and the lighting grows darker like a drama.
In the sitcom scenes, Allison nags Kevin to use a coaster. In the drama scenes, Allison learns that Kevin spent their savings, which she’d hoped to use as a down payment for a new house.
“I have seen Allison in so many women in my life, to varying degrees, obviously,” Murphy said. “She has just absorbed so much frustration and so much anger and pushed it down and pushed it down, because that’s what you’re supposed to do as a woman.”
Created by Valerie Armstrong, Kevin Can F**k Himself is part satire of male-dominated sitcoms, such as Kevin Can Wait starring Kevin James. Armstrong said the show also speaks to women in real life.
“Unfortunately, it’s only gotten more relevant since I’ve written it,” Armstrong said. “I think stories about women being overlooked are sadly going to be relevant for a while.”
As the title character, Petersen said he enjoyed playing the typical sitcom lout. However, Petersen said it enriched his performance to know he was serving the other half of the show.
“I love being a part of something that is disrupting a norm,” Petersen said.
Petersen said that sometimes Kevin goes too far. In those cases, Peterson said the writers soften Kevin a tad with rewrites.
“There are some lines that Kevin says that are on that edge of is this funny or not funny?” Petersen said.
While the sitcom scenes show Kevin creating fires for Allison to put out, filming those scenes is easier for Murphy. Because Allison is secondary to Kevin on the show within the show, Murphy has a lighter load acting in those scenes.
“I don’t really have to prepare because I only have three lines,” Murphy said. “It’s so focused on the dudes.”
Allison has support in her friend Patty, played by Mary Hollis Inboden. Patty is the sister of Kevin’s neighbor Neil (Alex Bonifer), and she begins to realize she’s been enabling the boys’ antics, too.
“What I’ve learned, I guess, in playing Patty is to not become a dismissive voice of women,” Inboden said. “I am a woman, but to not also just fall into the trap of dismissing female friends.”
Kevin is Murphy’s first role after Schitt’s Creek. On the Pop! TV comedy, Murphy played socialite Alexis Rose, who adjusted to small-town life when her family lost their fortune.
Murphy said she wanted to be sure her follow-up role was different from Alexis.
“I was so worried that I was going to kind of get stuck in this like blond loopy land,” Murphy said. “Kevin Can F**k Himself comes along, which is like an absolute 180.”
In Kevin‘s dramatic scenes, Murphy gets to portray Allison’s extreme reactions to her husband’s behavior.
“I get to do things like kick over a garbage can angrily, fry an egg angrily and do cocaine in an alleyway angrily,” Murphy said. “These are all just such opposite things from what I was doing in Schitt’s Creek.”
In Kevin Can F**k Himself, Armstrong asks how a real-life woman would respond to the situations TV wives are asked to tolerate. She hopes viewers identify with Allison’s struggles.
“All I want from this show is like one woman to watch it and be like, ‘Oh, my God, it’s not just me,'” Armstrong said. “I hope that this eventually becomes a thing of the past.”
Kevin Can F**k Himself premieres Sunday on AMC+ and June 20 at 9 p.m. EDT on AMC.