Kevin Can F**k Himself
“Fixed” is currently available to stream on AMC+; its broadcast premiere on AMC is August 1, 2021.
“The world is broken,” Kevin McRoberts tells a growing crowd of adoring sycophants drawn to a man who has barely any sense of reality, who has cocooned himself with an array of yes-men his entire adult life, who does whatever he can to get out of work and responsibility, who either ignores or abuses his wife, and who shoots a man and gets away with a self-defense excuse. Kevin Can F**k Himself has spent an entire season building up the mythological awfulness of Kevin by making the argument that the masculine qualities imbued in sitcom characters aren’t to be laughed at or celebrated but reassessed and reconfigured. And it doesn’t get more fourth-wall-breaking than positioning this thoroughly below-average guy as failing so far upward that he might actually have a shot at making it into elected office. We just lived through that reality as a nation, and let me tell you: It’s not great! I would not recommend!
In terms of sheer audacity, the season finale of Kevin Can F**k Himself, “Fixed,” has to be commended. All of a sudden, this dude who we’ve seen do stupid thing after stupid thing is seen as some kind of people’s champion, and as much as preceding episode “Broken” telegraphed that it probably wasn’t Kevin who actually got shot by Nick, but Nick who got shot by Kevin, I had no sense that this was going to be the narrative pivot. And, frankly, I’m not sure it entirely works. There is a boldness to this storytelling choice that seems to overshadow everything else in this episode, primarily Allison’s characterization. She wanted to kill her husband as a means of escaping her marriage. But now Allison has the chance to leave her marriage behind without any blood on her hands, and she doesn’t take it — and she attacks Sam for even suggesting it.
Was Sam actually insulting Allison? I don’t think so. Does Sam genuinely have feelings for her? I do think so. Sure, men stay trash a lot of the time, so I do not begrudge Allison her journey down Misandry Lane. Yet I think Kevin Can F**k Himself has rushed Allison’s anger toward all men, and although Annie Murphy’s sense of injustice in that scene was believably bitter, it also felt slightly misplaced. It makes sense to scale up Allison’s motivations if this show is going to continue past this season (no renewal has been announced yet, but just hypothetically), and to make her frustrations more focused on our patriarchal society at large. But I think “Fixed” could have handled that transition a little more gracefully, and I think certain twists feel like the series writing itself into a corner.
If the show progresses past this episode, are we really to believe that Neil would keep his mouth shut about what he overheard Patty and Allison discussing? Is Nick still being alive going to turn into an overly drawn-out subplot? Wouldn’t Terrance the pharmacist eventually give up his lower-level dealers — like Patty — to save himself? Allison and Patty’s clasped hands could not be more evocative of Thelma & Louise, a cultural touchstone Kevin Can F**k Himself has been nodding toward for a while, and I will never complain about women doing it for themselves and all that. Looking back on this first season of Kevin Can F**k Himself as a whole, though, I wonder if the emphasis on sitcom versus drama framing and production design undercut some of Allison’s character development or overhyped the boundary-crossing between those narrative formats.
Take Allison finally working up the nerve to call Kevin a “dick” during the sitcom portion of “Fixed.” The scene is presented as a huge moment: Kevin and Pete are both stunned into silence; the jazzy music and the laugh track both briefly fall away. But there are edgy sitcoms all over TV, from the long-running It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia to the unfortunately canceled Good Girls, in which that scene would have been commonplace. Is this bifurcated approach even necessary anymore to emphasize the point of Kevin Can F**k Himself, which is that imbalanced cis-het relationship dynamics, almost all of which disfavor women, plague American TV? Creator Valerie Armstrong and showrunner Craig DiGregorio have provided their establishing evidence and made their argument, and I’m not sure installments of Kevin Can F**k Himself need that duality.
Before we consider what happens after “Fixed,” though, let’s talk about the episode itself. “Fixed” picks up after “Broken,” which ended with Kevin creeping downstairs, with the gun that Patty and Allison had buried in the backyard, to address the intruder who had just broken in. We learn within the first few sitcom-styled minutes of “Fixed” that it was Nick breaking in to kill Kevin, per Allison and Patty’s plan, and that Kevin shot him and landed him on life support. “We know you did what you did to protect your family,” detectives Tammy and Bram tell Kevin, and they think that Nick’s motives were drug-related—although they haven’t yet searched his place. “Drugs really are the scourge of our time,” Kevin says like a man with a word-a-day calendar, and before they leave the police station, Tammy has an instruction for Allison: Don’t leave town.
Back at home, Kevin’s shocked reaction to shooting Nick plays out like a very special sitcom episode. He’s inconsolable, he refuses to laugh at Pete and Neil’s attempts to cheer him up (“My laugh button’s on the fritz”), and his normally poufy hair is depressingly deflated. Meanwhile, Allison and Patty have to act fast to again cover up their tracks, this time by breaking into Nick’s basement apartment and framing him as the town drug dealer to take the heat off Patty. That scene was tenser than I anticipated (that dropped bottle!) and drove home the rift between Allison and Patty that I think will linger between them for a while: Why isn’t Allison reacting more to the fact that her actions essentially led to Nick’s death? Allison has no real answer for Patty’s concern and then they learn from Nick’s aunt that he actually isn’t dead. He improbably is holding on, and that stress pushes Allison further over the edge.
Nick is still alive and could point the finger at Allison and Patty. Kevin is becoming Worcester’s Donald Trump and demands that Allison stand by his side. And Sam just wants to … be with Allison, and that’s bad somehow? I can understand Allison’s rejection of the idea that a man could save her. But: She stole Sam’s rock-bottom story to explain why she needed Oxy! She turned to Nick to kill Kevin for her! She jumped headfirst into that affair with Sam! None of this means that Allison should be pitied or patronized. The writing of that fight outside Bev’s Diner felt off, though, as if Allison has convinced herself of a certain narrative of her life that the show can’t decide whether we should believe, too. (Sam’s “He’s not exactly a puppet master” assessment of Kevin is correct.) Kevin is a selfish, childish asshole, absolutely. But isn’t Allison diminishing her own agency here by standing by him for … no reason whatsoever, rather than just leaving town and starting fresh on her own?
Instead, what Allison is actively doing is hurting Patty, not just by manipulating the Nick-framing situation so that Patty would feel in her debt but also by pretending that she didn’t understand what the relationship between Patty and Tammy was. After Patty and Tammy’s date at the Grand Vic, didn’t Patty tell Allison that she thought Tammy liked her? What did Allison need, “like like” to be blinking in neon letters above Tammy and Patty’s heads? Yes, I think she was purposefully misunderstanding the relationship. Yes, I think she manipulated Patty into helping her. (Are we to think that Patty has feelings for Allison? What was up with that plaintive “You’re …” from Allison, and Patty’s vulnerable “… What?”) And yes, now that it’s Patty and Allison versus Neil, it’s Patty turning against her brother — a moron, to be sure, but family.
“We’ve both done terrible things, but we’ve done them for each other,” Allison says to Patty, the same night that Kevin pledges to provide to Worcester “the good kind of change, the kind that gets things back to the way they used to be.” But the chances of any kind of return to normalcy — with Neil bleeding on the floor of the McRoberts’s kitchen, with Patty and Allison united above him, with Tammy sniffing around, with Sam wondering what went wrong with his big speech, with Curt stewing in rejection, with Nick hovering on the edge of consciousness, and with Kevin’s blissful idiocy rising in prominence — is slim indeed.
What Else We Could Be
• “Good, salt-of-the-earth guys, having their 10 a.m. drink.” Who does Kevin McRoberts think he is, Frank Sobotka?
• Realizing that I’ve been using “a cookie pocket” for years … maybe I should feel shame about this, but I refuse!
• “Kevin McRoberts, because the world is going to Hell,” is actually a pretty apt slogan because anyone choosing to vote for Kevin really does prove that we are living in the worst timeline.
• No answer yet to my question from last week: Who was Nick calling before the plan to kill Kevin and leave town? I guess we leave that query for a potential second season.
• Is Kevin’s draining of the McRoberts’s bank account ever going to come up again?
• Nobody snarks like Mary Hollis Inboden, and her quippy, angry line delivery of “Good Catholic repression takes time” was probably my favorite of this finale, followed by her pitying, “Oh, honey. You are not a broad.”
• Meanwhile, this episode’s most cutting line was this apt description of a certain kind of American exceptionalism: “I know how to handle a little adversity. I just need to sit around, do nothing at all, and wait for God to provide a solution. And He always does!”
• Thank you for reading along this season!