It's a comedy, it's a drama
Allison McRoberts is a woman seemingly living two lives – but that’s only because she’s a character living in two different genres in the same show.
As played by Annie Murphy (“Schitt’s Creek”) in “Kevin Can F… Himself,” an inventive comedy/drama that begins streaming Sunday, June 13, on AMC+ (and premieres a week later on AMC), she’s a Boston-area wife and comedic foil to the titular Kevin (Eric Petersen, “Kirstie”), a blue collar guy who cracks all the punchlines and gets all the canned laughs when the show is a formulaic set-up/joke-set-up/joke multicamera comedy. All the characters – which include neighbors Neil and Patty O’Connor (Alex Bonifer, “Superstore,” and Mary Hollis Inboden, “The Real O’Neals”) and Kevin’s dad Pete (Brian Howe, “Westworld”) – join in on the levity.
But when the show switches to single-camera drama mode, a darker world emerges. We see the story through Allison’s eyes and we learn her marriage is less than ideal and she’s grappling with real-world problems and unrealized dreams. The disillusionment even envelops Patty next door, who waxes cynical about her own underwhelming life to Allison as she puffs away on menthols on her front porch.
Created by Valerie Armstrong and executive produced by Will McCormack and Craig DiGregorio, the series takes aim at the trope of the passive, agreeable sitcom wife and the result is an interesting, almost jarring juxtaposition of sitcom buffoonery and dramatic angst. Even the show’s 45-minute run time represents a halfway mark between the two genres’ standard episode durations of 30 and 60 minutes.
The high concept was certainly enticing for Murphy, who was looking to do anything but a standard comedy after six seasons playing spoiled socialite Alexis Rose in “Schitt’s.”
“I get to do things like kick over a garbage can angrily and fry an egg angrily,” she explains. “And, you know, do cocaine in an alleyway angrily. And these are all just such opposite things from what I was doing in ‘Schitt’s Creek.’ So, it felt like exactly the right thing to do. Plus, the show itself, the script right away I was like this is something that is so, so incredibly special and so exciting. And there’s so much to explore in this show. Plus, the fact that it was created by a woman and it’s so female-heavy, cast and crew. And so, I was begging to be signed up for it.”
And Murphy was also drawn to the character of Allison, whose qualities she has seen “in so many women in my life.”
“I think that Allison is a character that people are going to be able to really, really identify with,” she says, “because 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. And has put up with so much of the world around her and just kind of smiled through it. And I really truly do think that so many women are going to be able to identify and see themselves in this character.”