blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Kevin Can F**k Himself (2021) s01e05 – New Patty

About three-quarters of the way through this episode, I realized how much I hope “Kevin Can F**k Himself” is a single season series. If they’re going to try to maintain the darkness escalation in the series through a cliffhanger… I’m not sure I can handle it.

The episode opens with a resolve to the previous one’s cliffhanger, which had Annie Murphy letting new pal Mary Hollis Inboden in on a big secret. They work through that secret—and it stays with the episode, looming out of the background—and spend the episode adjusting to being friends. There’s unexpected, sitcom-esque fallout from last episode and Eric Petersen’s jackass sitcom star casts Inboden out, forcing her into real life. Except Inboden’s been operating in both realities the whole time it’s turned out. She’s now main supporting cast member. It’s Murphy, then her. Petersen’s sitcom half of the episode (I’m getting more and more curious how episodes’d play with the drama cut out and just the sitcoms—and vice versa) isn’t a character thing. There’s no character development for the sitcom boys, with the possible except of dad Brian Howe. Howe doesn’t like Inboden’s replacement, who has the same name (Paddy though, not Patty), played by Jon Glaser.

While Murphy’s mostly got self-destructive drama with her job and then high school crush grown over Raymond Lee—both kind of results of breaking free of Petersen’s sitcom reality—Inboden’s got cops (Candice Coke), drug dealers (an excellent Robin Lord Taylor), and puppy-dog boyfriends (Sean Clements). Clements and Inboden have a couple phenomenal scenes this episode. So good.

Tom Scharpling’s got the writer credit; he gets some of the most expansive work in the show so far. Petersen, Howe, and Alex Bonifer go outside—we get to see the sitcom “Kevin” bar (where they meet Glaser). It’s initially weird since the show’s established the actual reality’s rules, so there’s another layer of discomfort. Sort of danger. All of the comforts to Petersen’s universe have an element of naïveté. There’s a threat of that naïveté collapsing and causing a lot of damage, which is one of the great things about the show. Even without the drama, there’s an anxious energy to it.

Great direction from Anne Dokoza.

Murphy and Inboden get a few scenes together—around five, I think—and have a really nice arc. If “Kevin”’s able to finish well, it’s going to be a delight to watch again for the acting. Murphy’s turning out to be a lot more risky than previously implied (which raises some questions about what should be considered daring, especially opposed to a sitcom reality… but even with that condition). But we’ll see; “Kevin” has been very nimble with its narrative distance so far.

It’s been a while I’ve been so enthusiastic about a show’s plotting but “Kevin”’s narrative feels like its in constant restraint and bucking. It’s exciting.

And I really hope they end it well because it just keeps getting better and an unqualified win would be very cool.

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