We all know this TV formula, an average looking man (I’m being generous here) is married to a slim, beautiful woman who runs herself ragged between cleaning up the mess his antics create and eking teachable moments out for the manchild she inexplicably married. It’s comedy gold, right?
Rashida Jones doesn’t think so. The actor and producer has joined forces with Valerie Armstrong, Will McCormack to make a show with the working title Kevin Can Go F**k Himself – a reference to the show Kevin Can Wait, starring Kevin James in which his wife was killed off in the first series – which was cancelled after series two.
The team describe the Kevin Can Go F**k Himself as an exploration of: “…the secret life of a woman we all grew up watching: the sitcom wife. A beauty paired with a less attractive, dismissive, caveman-like husband who gets to be a jerk because she’s a nag and he’s ‘funny.’ Our series looks to break television convention and ask what does the world look like through her eyes? Alternating between single-camera realism and multi-camera zaniness, the formats will be constantly informing one another as we ask what happens when this supporting character is presented as a real person? And what if that person is pissed?”
Why does this matter? We all know it’s not real blablabla. It matters because one of the biggest comedy devices used in sitcom is the old it’s funny ‘cos it’s true. It might be exaggerated yes, but it all stands firm on familiar ground. In turn, we reflect this reality back – be it through style (see The Rachel), catchphrases or behaviour. If an entire cast, writing team and studio et al find bad behaviour in men adorable, amusing and permissible it galvanises the idea that the women in these men’s lives – and they are in the man’s life, not the other way round – should be tolerant, tireless and dismissed as nags when they don’t comply.
Kevin Can Go F**k Himself has the potential to not simply turn an old narrative on its head but help contribute to a new sitcom culture in which being funny doesn’t excuse poor behaviour towards women. Even the idea of the show throws light on how old-fashioned many current sitcoms are (reminder, The Big Bang Theory, whilst limping towards a finale, is still going), when even the club circuit is moving on from the old ‘my wife’ jokes.
And before the inevitable ‘it’s PC gone mad’ response, let’s all remember this is simply adding more funny characters to the roster, what comedy fan doesn’t want that?